Kale, Apple, & Pork Potstickers

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I don’t know about you, but when i get a craving for Asian foods it hits me HARD. Like a ton of dumpling-shaped bricks and my appetite for those flavors becomes insatiable. Last week the craving hit and I high tailed it over to East Lansing to hit up my favorite Asian markets for essentials…I have two, one pan-Asian market and one Korean market, and they are conveniently located within a few blocks of each other. WIN! I like to buy round dumpling wrappers from the freezer section of the Asian market, though you could use the refrigerated wonton wrappers from the grocery store. I go for whatever brand has the shortest ingredient list. This is also where I find my favorite, crepe-like, spring/egg roll wrappers.

So when I decide to make a batch of dumplings or spring rolls or kimchi…I make A LOT. This batch of kale, apple, and pork filled potstickers were no exception. These tasty little dumplings are filled with lots of savory vegetables, apple for a little sweetness, and lots of fragrant garlic and ginger. The vegetables and apple get sauteed and sweated, which both deepens and marries the flavors, the garlic and ginger just get a few moments on the heat to retain their punchy aroma and flavor, and the pork helps to bind the filling and bring it’s delicious pork-y flavor that goes so well with the kale and apple, while the dumpling skins are the perfect chewy envelope. All of the ingredients combined make for dumplings that are basically addictive, little flavor bombs. To get the pretty pleats, just watch videos after searching “how-to pleat dumplings”. There are a ton out there, but this one is pretty simple and straight forward. Though, I never do that many pleats because I’m just not that skilled…or dedicated…the faster dumplings get in my face, the better.

So, make these for yourself (and freeze the rest), or make them to share…your friends will appreciate your dumpling skills, promise.

Pork, Kale, and Apple Potstickers

Makes about 50 dumplings.

There’s a lot of chopping happening here and if you don’t want to spend all that time honing your knife skills like a weirdo (ahem, me…), go ahead and pulse up the filling ingredients in a food processor. Also, I like my dumplings a little on the onion-y side…feel free to switch up the filling ratios…follow your heart! This recipe makes a large batch of dumplings, which are great for freezing. It’s tough to say exactly how many dumplings you will yield…depending on how much you fill them and what size your wrappers are, but you will get a lot with this recipe.

1 cup finely chopped onion

2 cups finely chopped cabbage

1/4 cup shredded carrot

1 cup shredded apple (I used a honeycrisp)

4 cups finely chopped kale

1/2 cup sliced green onions

2 cloves finely minced garlic

2-4 teaspoons grated ginger root

1/2 pound ground pork

1 egg white

salt

40-60 round dumpling skins

water for sealing

In a large skillet over medium high heat sauté the onion, cabbage, carrot, and apple with a pinch of salt until softened and any liquid has evaporated. Add in the kale, in batches if necessary, and cook until wilted and any additional liquid evaporates. Stir in the green onions, garlic, and ginger (however much you’d like) and cook an additional minute. Taste the mixture for seasoning and add more salt if needed. Remove the vegetable mixture to a large bowl and set aside to cool completely.

Once the vegetables are completely cooled stir in the ground pork and the egg white to combine. I like to use my (clean) hands to do this. I call it the “claw-method” and I stir the mixture rapidly with my scary-claw hand in one direction until all of the ingredients are evenly distributed. I find this method also helps with keeping the filling from getting crumbly.

Pour some water into a small dish and set out your dumpling skins. You may want to cover the dumplings with a slightly damp tea towel to keep them from drying out while you form and pleat. Scoop small spoonfuls of  the vegetable-pork mixture into the center of the dumpling wrapper, lightly wet the edges with water, fold into a half moon and pleat (or just press to seal, whatever works). Repeat with remaining dumpling skins and filling.

To cook dumplings, add about 1 tablespoon of oil (or butter, melted) to a large nonstick skillet with a lid and arrange dumplings in an even layer. Add a scant 1/4 cup of water to the skillet and cook over medium-high heat with the lid on until the dumpling skins become a bit translucent, the water has evaporated, and the bottoms of the dumplings are golden. Remove from the heat and place a plate over the pan and flip out the dumplings in one fell swoop…or just remove them from the pan individually and set on a plate. I like to serve these simply with sriracha.

To freeze, place the uncooked dumplings onto a parchment-lined sheet pan in an even layer and freeze until frozen solid—a few hours. Remove the frozen dumplings from the freezer and place in a gallon-size freezer bag and place back in the freezer. Cook the same way as you would fresh dumplings with just a bit more water few more minutes of cooking time.

Jap Chae – Korean Glass Noodles with Vegetables

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Guys, I made you something very near and dear to my food-lovin’ heart. It’s a food of my people and of my childhood. I think most people think of kimchi when they think of Korean food, but these noodles are a staple in Korean cuisine as well.

Jap chae!

Jap chae is a traditional Korean dish made with sweet potato starch noodles. I usually don’t make this dish, I often buy it from the Korean market, where they make it fresh, or I just have my mom make it for me. After I made this batch and instagrammed it, my mom called to tell me it looked beautiful. Let me tell you guys, this was a major deal. Korean-mother approval= MAJOR! The noodles are clear, stretchy, and delightfully chewy. The ingredients are super simple and this dish comes together quickly after a little bit of chop-chopping and prep. It’s the dish most of my non-Korean friends fall for first when introducing them to Korean fare. My BFF loves these noodles and affectionately refers to them as “sticky-hand noodles”.

When I was a kid, these noodles were probably one of my favorite foods ever. I mean, they are stretchy…just like those sticky-hands you get out of those toy machines near the front doors of the supermarket…and they’re noodle-y! I have always loved noodles and Jap Chae is definitely one of my favorite noodle dishes of all time…plus, it picnics like a champ since it is just as delish at room temperature as it is warm.

Jap Chae – Korean Glass Noodle with Vegetables

For this recipe the right kind of noodle is key. Look for Korean glass noodles, a sweet potato starch noodle that can be found at a well-stocked Asian Market or order them online*. They are gray and semi-translucent, dried noodles that become clear and stretchy with cooked.

Sauce:

3-4 tablespoons soy sauce (I use low-sodium)

2-3 tablespoons maple syrup (or sugar)

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Noodles:

8 ounces  dried Korean Glass noodles

8 ounces baby spinach

8 ounces button or cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 large carrot, julienned

5 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 cloves garlic, minced

canola oil for sautéing

toasted sesame seeds for garnish

In a small dish whisk together the soy, maple, and sesame oil. Set aside.

In a skillet wilt the spinach with a little bit of oil and a pinch of salt. Once just wilted, stir in 1/3 of the minced garlic. Remove from skillet and set aside.

Wipe out the skillet and add a bit more oil. Add the sliced mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Cook the mushrooms until all of the liquid they release evaporates and the mushrooms begin to brown around the edges. Add 1/3 of the minced garlic and stir to combine. Remove from the skillet and set aside.

Wipe out the skillet and cook the carrots with a pinch of salt and the remaining garlic a minute or two until the carrots are just warmed through but still crisp. Add the green onions and cook an additional 60 seconds. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Drop the dried noodles into the boiling water and cook about 8 minutes or until noodles are clear, stretchy and tender. Immediately pour into a colander to drain and rinse  well with cold water. This helps improve the texture of the noodles. In a large bowl toss the sauce and vegetables with the noodles to coat. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve warm or room temperature.

*This post contains links for reference.

 

Asian Slaw Steak Salad

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THIS SALAD…guys, it’s a real good one. It’s fresh and crunchy, tangy and pungent, with a little bit of sweet-spiciness that plays so well with the savory steak. Plus, it speaks of my homeland! Always a bonus in the food department. I’ve used one of my favorite Korean flavors to mix up the dressing : Gochujang!

Gochujang is a chile paste made with fermented soy beans, glutinous rice powder, and red chiles. The result is a rich, spicy, salty, slightly sweet, pungent condiment that is a crazy flavor bomb. There really is nothing else like it and it’s an integral ingredient for the famous Korean dish, Bibimbap…making it much more than just a rice bowl. I have seen the suggestion that gochujang can be swapped out with sriracha…and while I love sriracha, that suggestion makes my heart cry. It’s just not even the same…AT ALL.  I cannot stress this enough, it’s not a flavor easily replicated as it’s an aged, fermented product that has a level of funkiness only gained with time and fermentation. Anyway…if you can’t find gochujang (I suggest you get friendly with an Asian or Korean market — they’re like a pantry goods gold mine!), you could probably mix miso, sriracha, and some honey to get something close-ish. But, if you can find gochujang, get it! It will last in the refrigerator forever…like a year or more. It’s thick and a little goes a long way, I usually mix some with sesame oil, garlic, sesame seeds, green onion, a teeny bit of honey or maple, and some water to thin it, to top rice, eggs, vegetables, or really anything that needs a funky-spicy condiment.

Anyway, salad time!

The vinaigrette combines spicy, pungent gochujang with tangy rice wine vinegar, garlic, shallot, fresh ginger, and sesame oil. This dressing has some serious umami and face-punching flavor. It’s no wallflower of a vinaigrette and is the perfect thing to dress a pile of super crunchy, fresh vegetables.

I topped this salad with garlic and ginger rubbed steak. I like this method of a wet-paste kind of rub, I think the ginger and garlic really soaks into the meat, making it super flavorful yet still very beefy. Just a bit of steak goes a long way, it’s richness is addicting with the flavorful dressing and the fresh crunch of the slaw. I like mine topped with a little bit of roasted and seasoned seasweed, known as “gim” or “kim” in Korean or “nori” in Japanese. Sean kind of hates it and stares at me baffled when I eat it like chips…so, I left it off of his salad (more for me, yo!).

 

Asian Slaw Steak Salad

Serves 2-4

You can find Gochujang at any Korean grocery store, at well stocked pan-Asian markets, or even in the international aisle of some major grocery stores. It’s a great pantry staple and is fantastic on plain rice, eggs, or anything that needs a funky-spicy, asian kick. As mentioned above, I think that Gochujang is an irreplaceable flavor, but you can mix up something similar by stirring some miso paste with sriracha and a little honey or maple, to taste. I used a 10 ounce chuck steak for this, since it’s what was grass-fed and available at my market. This is fantastic with skirt steak (my original choice) as well, or really, whatever protein you prefer. An egg would be a killer addition.

for the vinaigrette:

2 tablespoons unseasoned rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons Gochujang

1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup

1 tablespoon minced shallot (or onion)

2 cloves minced garlic

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

3 tablespoons flavorless oil (I used grape seed)

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 teaspoon sesame seeds

for the steak:

steak (up to a pound)

2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger

3 cloves garlic, grated

salt and pepper to taste

for the salad:

2 1/2 cups thinly sliced savoy cabbage

1/4 cup sliced carrots

1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion

1/4 cup thinly sliced cucumber

1/3 cup sliced sugar peas or snow peas

sesame seeds and toasted seaweed for garnish (optional)

Make the dressing by combining all of the ingredients in a jar, shake to combine. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Marinate the steak. Place the meat in a dish, mix the garlic and ginger together to make a paste, add a big pinch of salt and lots of black pepper. Spread the paste all over the meat, cover, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (to 2 hours). Remove from the refrigerator for 20 minutes before cooking, to bring to room temperature.

Heat a grill or grill pan to smoking hot, grill the steak on each side a few minutes to desired doness–my steak was about 3/4 inch thick, I did 5 minutes on one side, and then 3 ish on the other. We like our steaks rare-to-medium rare. Place the cooked steak on a plate, cover with foil, and rest for 15 minutes before slicing.

Toss together all of the slaw ingredients  (with or without dressing) and divide between bowls. Top slaw with steak, sesame seeds, and crumbled seaweed. Drizzle with additional dressing.