Chinese Take-out.....In

One thing that I pride myself on is knowing my limitations. There are many things that I do well. There are some things that I do very well. There are even a few things that I do exceedingly well. And, of course, there are quite a few things that I totally suck at and leave to the experts, like performing brain surgery or taking apart a carburetor. One of the things that falls in that vast grey area in between is Asian cooking. This is actually ironic because Asian food is one of my favorite things to eat. I've never met a noodle bowl that I didn't love, a sushi roll that didn't sing to me or a Thai curry that didn't make me swoon! I don't think that I can't do it. I just never learned how. There are a some dishes that I've managed to master over the years, but not nearly as many as I'd like.

One of the best things about blogging is discovering other blogs written by all sorts of talented and creative cooks from all over the world. Whatever kind of cuisine you're interested in, someone is out there blogging about it. This is particularly true of Asian food. Asian food blogs abound and the seemingly endless array of gorgeous and mouthwatering dishes is truly inspiring. I drool over many of them daily, and every so often, when I can find the required ingredients, I try to recreate some of the recipes.

When the adorable Mochachocolata Rita announced that she was hosting a blog event called Chinese Take-out, I knew I wanted to participate. The only question in my mind was what would I make. I immediately thought of one of my favorite Steamy Kitchen recipes, Spam Fried Rice. This dish has become a regular fixture on our dinner table. We all love it and it is easy to make. I like to change the recipe around a little, and I thought I'd add some pineapple and carrots this time. Done!
Then, a few weeks ago, I was watching Throwdown with Bobby Flay on the Food Network, and the subject was dumplings. Not dumplings as in "chicken and", but dumplings as in "potstickers". Sohui Kim, chef and co-owner of The Good Fork in Red Hook, New York, was on the show with her legendary pork and chive dumplings. As I watched her prepare her delectable little pork-filled purses, I knew I had to attempt them as well. I scrambled to write down everything she did. With my notes and a little help from Google, I put together a version of Kim's recipe that I think is pretty close to the original.

Sohui Kim uses garlic chives in her filling for these dumplings. Garlic chives are supposed to be a little more pungent than their subtler cousin, the regular chive. Kim also uses silken tofu in her filling to give it an almost creamy texture. In addition to lots of garlic and ginger, she also seasons her filling with hoisin sauce. Luckily, I was able to find these ingredients at a local Asian market along with the recommended wrappers she suggested. I thought about making them from scratch, but you have to crawl before you can walk, you know?
The dumplings were not especially difficult to make, but assembling them was very time consuming, especially for a novice like me. Once I got to four dozen, I wrapped up the rest of the filling and quit. While they were cooking, I whipped up a kicky little dipping sauce with soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, black vinegar and chili oil.

Those dumplings were the best I've ever eaten. Honestly, they were out of this world! The filling was light and fluffy and bursting with flavor. Those delectable little pillows of greatness have spoiled me for life. I'll never be satisfied with anything less!
Pork and Chive Dumplings
Adapted from Sohui Kim
2 tbsp. canola oil, plus more for frying dumplings
1 cup diced onion
3 tbsp. minced garlic
2 tbsp. minced ginger
1 cup chopped garlic chives
1 1/2 lbs. ground pork
1 8-oz. package silken tofu
2 tbsp. hoisin sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
1 16-oz. package dumpling wrappers (look for the Twin Marquis brand, Hong Kong style)
1 egg, beaten and reserved in a small bowl
1/2 cup of water or chicken broth
In a large pan with a lid, heat the canola oil over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, ginger, and garlic chives and cook for 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and let cool. Wipe out the pan for frying the dumplings.
In a large bowl, combine pork, tofu, and hoisin sauce with the chive mixture. Test-fry a small portion of the pork mixture and adjust seasoning.
Holding dumpling wrapper flour side down, place a teaspoonful of pork mixture onto the middle of the wrapper.
Dip your index finger into the beaten egg and rub it over half of the outer edge of the dumpling. Fold dumpling in half, crimping it in the middle and sealing along the egg-moistened edge, taking care not to leave any air pockets. Repeat procedure until all dumplings are made.
Heat more canola oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Pan fry the dumplings until crisp and golden brown on both sides, about 2-3 minutes.
With the lid in hand, pour the water or broth into the pan (It will spatter like mad!), and quickly cover the pan with the lid. Continue to cook the dumplings a few minutes more and remove to a serving dish.
Serve with the dipping sauce of your choice.
Makes about four dozen dumplings
Dipping Sauce
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon black vinegar
1/4 tsp chili oil (optional)
Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Serve with dumplings.
Spam and Pineapple Fried Rice
Adapted from Steamy Kitchen
4 cups cold leftover rice, chunks broken up so grains are loose & separate
2-4 tablespoons canola oil, as needed
1 can of Spam, cut into a small dice
2 eggs, beaten
4 scallions, finely
1 cup carrots, julienned
1/2 cup fresh pineapple, cut into a small dice (You can use canned pineapple tidbits, if you prefer.)
3 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
2 teaspoons fish sauce (or soy sauce)
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Heat canola oil in wok or large, wide saute pan over medium high heat. When oil is hot, add eggs and gently stir to cook eggs. When eggs are about 80% done (still a little runny), remove from pan and set aside.
Turn heat to high. Add a little more cooking oil to pan. When hot, add diced Spam to the pan. Cook until browned. Add green onions, carrots and pineapple and fry until fragrant and tender. Add spinach and saute until wilted.
Add rice and the cooked eggs and toss to incorporate all ingredients. Let it all just sit still in the pan for a few minutes so that the grains of rice have a chance to heat up. Toss again so that the rice that is on the top now is on the bottom. Add cooking wine and fish sauce and mix well. Heat through completely.
Taste and adjust seasonings. Add a little more fish sauce if needed, and season with pepper as desired.


Manggy said…
For a while there I thought you had actual problems with wrapping dumplings but it turns out you made 48?! I would have given up at 20... (Hee, I get bored so easily..) After all, there's only so many people at home :) The recipe is very intriguing-- I've never had Hoisin in the dumpling before. You did a marvelous job at them.

I loooove SPAM (wow... Such a gourmet I am, heh heh), and it's so perfect with rice (really cuts the saltiness)!
Anonymous said…
Oh the shame of admitting that I have no idea where I would get half of those ingredients in Milan. I have to do some serious research or just make the wrappers from scratch and improvise the rest. Thanks for the inspiration!
Anonymous said…
This looks BETTER than alot of the Chinese take out I've had in my life! Pass me a potsticker!
We do a lot of Chinese at home. I adore Chinese food, but my husband not so much...unless it's what I make from scratch. So if I have a craving for it, I have to get cooking :)
Jen said…
Like you, I don't do as well with Asian cooking. These recipes look wonderful (except I might substitute chewy mushrooms for the spam). I think I'm going to try the dumplings this weekend. Thanks for the great post!
Gretchen Noelle said…
Love the dumplings! They look super tasty!
Susan @ SGCC said…
Manggy- Lol! After I made all of those dumplings, someone asked me if I used a dumpling press. Dumpling press?!?! Now, if I'd only known about that before....

I love Spam too. I know it's not the healthiest thing, but sometimes you have to live a little!

Joanne- I'll bet that there is an Asian market somewhere in Milan. None of the ingredients I used were too exotic. The wonton wrappers are not hard to make; just flour, warm water and salt. Good luck!

Culinography- Thanks! I have to say, I was pretty pleased with the way they turned out. :D

Cowgirl- It's the other way around here. Mr. SGCC loves Chinese take-out, but I am really picky about it. I think we just don't have any great places for it here.

Jen- You are very welcome! I'm glad you like the dishes. Let me know how your dumplings work out. :)

Gretchen- Thanks! I'm glad you like them!
Leah said…
Ooooh, Asian night - right up my alley! Your photos are giving me a craving right now. Really nice pictures!!
You've got me so hungry for those dumplings and fried rice. Can I have them for breakfast, please? Good job venturing into new culinary territory!
Anonymous said…
OMG they are professional looking, just perfect!
Patsyk said…
I've only recently started making dumplings at home, and we love them! I'm going to have to try your recipe with the silken tofu to try another version!

Fantastic pictures, too!
Patsyk said…
I've only recently started making dumplings at home, and we love them! I'm going to have to try your recipe with the silken tofu to try another version!

Fantastic pictures, too!
Peter M said…
Sticky, I saw your spread at Rita's roundup and you do Chinese wonderfully!

But then again, you had 48 chances to make them right! lol

Bravo...they look like the real deal.
tigerfish said…
That's all so good! The dumplings...and the fried rice.

Came from the round up. :)
Your dumplings look soooo good! Uh, Spam??? No comment heheheheh.

Guy Fieri on Foodtv did a spicy tangerine beef and pork fried rice over the weekend and I was going to try that tonight. I am a little worried as I don't do Asian often.

I suck at Potato Salad.....I can't make it. I have tried a gazillion recipes over the years......mine just never tastes right when it is done. Who can't make something as simple as potato salad......ME, that's who. Even if I follow the recipe to a T it still sucks.
I also love Asian cuisine but am afraid to try it since I know so little about it. It looks like you did a fantastic job of it though, so congrats! The dumpling photos really look fantastic
Henny A. said…
I love how colorful your fried rice turned out. Mine usually look so boring so I know I'm going to have to try this recipe! (i espec. like the use of pineapple in the recipe).
Gabi said…
Whoa- those are some beautiful dumplings!- and I love the fried rice too...mmmmm....
LOL should put a surgeon generals warning on your spam fried rice stating "0 out of 10 cardiologists approve".
grace said…
those suckers make all the take-out i've ever seen look like giraffe poo. nicely done!

meanwhile, why the heck is spam so underrated?
RecipeGirl said…
Spam, huh? I don't know if I could do it. Maybe if I was at your house for dinner, I would eat it. But buy it myself and open up the can? Nah.

But the dumplings look really great. That's one of our fave things to order up for Chinese.
Susan @ SGCC said…
Leah- Thanks! Glad you like them!

Lynn- Thank you! Dumplings for breakfast sounds great!

Noble Pig- Awww! Thanks! :)

Patsy- I really liked the tofu in these. It really lightened up the filling. Glad you like the pics!

Peter- Lol! They do say practice makes perfect. Glad you liked them!

Tigerfish- Welcome! Thanks for coming by. I'm glad you liked the spread. :)

Obsessive- I saw that epi on FN. The beef dish looked really good. Let me know how it turns out.

How can you suck at potato salad? I think you're being too hard on yourself. By the way, I've been thinking of doing a potato salad event.

Aaaaand, I used Spam Lite in that fried rice, thankyouverymuch! Also, no other fats except some canola oil. Pretty good for me, huh?

Mike- Thanks so much! I'm glad you liked it. I'm taking baby steps. ;)

Augustina- Thanks! The original recipe didn't have the carrots or the pineapple. I did add them mostly for the color. ;)

Gabi- Thank you! Glad you liked them! :)

RecipeGirl- You might be surprised, Lori. Out of the can - meh. But, the Spam is really wonderful in this dish. I'll let you know when I make it again, so you can grab your fork and come on over. ;)

Glad you liked the dumplings, though. :)
Anonymous said…
These look fabulous Susan! We teach a Dumpling 101 cooking class and your creations by far are better than anything that our students have made! You should come help us teach the class sometime if you're ever down in California!
We missed this fun event! We've been swamped at work and couldn't make anything in time. :(
taste memory said…
spam fried rice is soooooo good! thanks this brought back childhood memories.

mc rita's take-out party was great - your dumplings look crazy good too!
I love the idea of take at home. It's fun!
Christine said…
You say you are a novice? I really disagree, think you are an expert! The dumplings look delicious!
Nicole said…
Your dumplings look perfect! One of my favorite things. And I go for the chili oil in all Asian food. Love the kick it has.

Hungry now!
Anonymous said…
OMG we both made dumplings for Rita's roundup and we both posted a similar photo (the one with the in focus dumpling at the front on the rectangular plate)! How coincidental is that? Yours look yummier than mine though, and that's not coincidence, just fact. :)
Susan @ SGCC said…
WoRC- Thank you very much! Trust me, if I ever make it out to CA, you guys are the first people I plan to look up! Sorry you missed the party. I just barely made it myself!

Taste Memory- Thanks! I'm kind of addicted to that rice.

Aran- It is kind of fun, especially if you have some good helpers!

Christine- You are too sweet! Thank you!

Nicole- Thank you! One of my favorite things too. I can't wait to try it again.

CanaryGirl- Lol! Great minds thing alike. Your photo was took the prize, though. I saw it on Slashfood the other day! Woohoo!
Anonymous said…
These dumplings look really fantastic. I feel like the stars must be aligning in such a way that I am being compelled to make dumplings myself! I read this article on dumplings yesterday; it may give you some inspiration for an alternate filling: Now coupled with your fantastic-sounding dumplings, I feel that fate is hitting me over the head. Thanks for the great blog!
Leigh said…
great work on those dumplings - I can taste them right now! I love them but have not made them yet - I'm certainly gonna try after this. they just look the business.
Anonymous said…
Long time reader, first time commenter. I had a question. When I saw that episode I knew I HAD to make those too. I found the recipe online and bought silken, firm tofu. I am wondering about the tofu. The tofu is firm in a block. I wonder if I got the wrong kind. Did you just squish it in with your fingers to break it up or puree it with a food processor and mix it in? I just didn't know if the block would break up and blend or be chunky if I just mixed it. I was wondering what you did.
Any thoughts you have would be greatly appreciated!!
Susan @ SGCC said…
haleysuzanne- Thank you! I'm glad you liked them. Thanks for the tip about the article. I checked it out and it looks great. I'm going to try it next time. :)

Leigh- Thanks! Give them a try. They are not hard to make at all. Just a little time consuming.

AimD- Welcome! As I understand it, there are several different kinds of tofu, including silken and firm. They both come in a packed in a block in water. The silken tofu is very soft, like a thick yogurt consistency. The firm one is harder and can be sliced. I used the silken tofu, which is what Kim used on the show. It worked great. I just stirred it into the meat mixture and it blended right in. Hope that helps. :)
Anonymous said…
I DID IT! We just finished our dumplings and you were right they were the best! I just ended up sending my hubby out for the silken tofu. I ran the firm through the food processor and it just wasn't 'silky' enough and I didn't want to mess with the texture, since it is one of the things that this recipe has that makes it so great! I did find chinese chives and 'pungent' really is the right word. They really stunk up my fridge in the small time they were in there but cooked they were great.
I wouldn't have had such success without your blog and your response to my comment so THANK YOU SO MUCH..

p.s. I ended using 2 packages of wrappers and now have about 8 dozen (minus the 20 or so we wolfed down) ready to freeze.

Thanks again!

Susan @ SGCC said…
WooHoo! Congratulations! I'm so glad that they worked out for you. Glad I could help.

Eight dozen! Whoa! When should I come over for dinner? ;)
Anonymous said…
i was wondering if the dumplings can be steamed instead of fried??
Susan @ SGCC said…
Anonymous- They absolutely can be steamed. I have done it and they turn out fine.
Anonymous said…
My mother has been making dumplings since i was little. We've been trying to find this recipe. You can also take the raw dumplings, arrange them in the pan, add your 1/2 cup water or broth first and cover the lid. in 8-10 min, check to see if the water or broth has evaporated and steamed the dumplings.Make sure all the water is gone before you add your canola oil. Then, add your oil and it if the pan is dry, it wont splatter like mad. give it a try. I hope you find it helpful.

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