Friday, August 10, 2012

NomNom: Pork and Cabbage Dumplings

My mom is a master of Korean cuisine. I'm sure that all Korean kids say that their mom is the best at cooking Korean meals but they're...wrong. My mom is the best and that's just a fact.

Looking back, I think my sister and I were somewhat spoiled with certain things, one being fed home made dumplings. My mom never once bought store bought dumplings to feed the family and instead would make it all from scratch (minus the wrapper..that still counts, right?)

As a kid, I remember this one time I was hanging out at my friend's house and her mom invited me to stay for dinner. She mentioned mandu (Korean word for dumplings) and I guess since I was so used to eating homemade dumplings I assumed all Asian households operated as is. Nope, totally not the case. My friend must've seen the look of hesitation from me when I saw her take the frozen bag of dumplings out from the freezer because she tried to reassure me that "this stuff was good."

Wrong. So, so wrong.

On dumpling days, my mom would call my sister and I down into the kitchen and tell us to help her assemble the dumplings. We begrudingly did as we were told but looking back now, I'm so thankful that she did. Not only was that her way of spending time with us, but it was also teaching us that as we get older, one of the roles we will someday step into will be to cook for the family. Learn by example. Smart lady.

What is it about summer that makes me feel like time moves a bit differently? It's already August and before we know it, fall will creep up. And then winter. Crazy.

After recent events that happened a couple of weeks ago with the family, I've been thinking about things that matter to me. Time and effort are two things running through my head. Making the effort to spend time with loved ones, whether it be family or friends no matter how "busy" life becomes are important. Life lessons.

To my friends who've visited/emailed/texted me periodically to check up on me: Thank you. I've been slow to get on the reply button because I still need my space but I haven't forgotten. Your words mean a lot and I really appreciate it.

Now, although my mom is an amazing cook, the woman does not have a exact measurements to her Korean cuisines. Problematic. After much perusing through magazines and online recipe hunting I came across this recipe found in Martha Stewart Living that showcased a Korean cook's dumpling recipe, which are very similar to the ingredients my mom uses to make her dumplings. 

Excuse the messy fingers. It can happen in the process. No biggie.

If you end up making too many dumplings, that's totally fine. Just freeze them on a lined (plastic wrap or aluminum foil) cookie sheet. Once frozen, transfer them to a zip lock bag or a sealed container. They are good for up to 3 months. Lazy days=leftover dumplings.

I'm grateful that my mom made my sis and I help her with dumplings because however you spend time with family/loved ones is something that is invaluable and simply put--time well spent. Dumpling making is a great way to interact with friends, kids, and boyfriend/husband. There are so many variations of dumplings out there that you could even host a dumpling party.

Note to self: Get on that.

Have a great weekend. xo.

Ingredients (Adapted from Eunsook Pai in Martha Stewart Living June 2012) Yields: 80
7 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided, plus more if needed
6 cups thinly sliced napa cabbage (about 1/2 head)
1 3/4 teaspoons fine sea salt, divided
2 cups thinly sliced Vidalia onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh chives (about 1 bunch)
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions (about 4 scallions, plus more for garnish)
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic (about 6 cloves)
1 1/2 pound ground pork
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, plus more for garnish
1 egg
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
1 package of store bought frozen dumpling wrappers (defrost at room temperature for 30 minutes)

Ingredients for dipping sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon Chinese chili oil/chili paste (optional but highly recommended)

1. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in large saute pan or wok over high heat. Saute cabbage, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 2-3 minutes. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and transfer to a large bowl. Heat another tablespoon vegetable oil and saute onion, stirring occasionally, until just softened, 2-3 minutes.Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, add to bowl with cabbage, and let cool for 5 minutes. Process in a food processor until just coarsely chopped, and return to bowl.

2. Heat 2 teaspoons vegetable oil in pan over medium heat, and satue chives until just tneder, about 1 minute, and saute chives until just tender about1 minute. Transfer to chopped cabbage mixture and let cool. Stir in scallions, garlic, pork and sesame seeds, sesame oil, 1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

3. Stir together soy sauce, vinegar, and hot chilli oil/paste in a small bowl, set dipping sauce aside.

4. Working with 1 wrapper at a time, moisten edge with beaten egg, then place 2 teaspoons filling in center. Fold in half to form a half-moon, press edge to seal tightly, and place on a parchment-lined/foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.

5. TO STEAM: Wipe out pan. Working in batches and wiping out pan between each, heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil until simmering, and sear dumplings until browned about 1 min. per side. (If preparing in advance, stop here and steam before serving.) Add 1/4 cup water, and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Steam dumplings in 2 minutes. Transfer to a platter and loosely tent with foil to keep warm. Repeat with rest of dumplings. Garnish with scallions and sesame seeds. Serve dumplings with dipping sauce.

6, TO BOIL (I used this method on today's post): When all dumplings are assembled, you can cook immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to several hours. To cook, fill half of a large pot with water and bring to boil. Gently slide in 1/3 of the dumplings while boiling. Turn down the heat to simmer and gently cook for 5-7 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and repeat with the rest of the dumplings. Serve with dipping sauce.


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