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.

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.

 

 

Vegetable Spring Rolls

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Guys, these are DANGER and I’m crushin’ hard.

I mean, they’re so savory, so crisp, so irresistible…I can’t stop thinking about them!

For that crisp, shattering exterior, I use the super-thin spring roll wrappers found in the freezer section of an Asian market. I’m a texture girl and those super thin edges are the money bits. For reals. Most of vegetables are quickly stir-fried to retain some texture in the finished roll…except for the mushrooms, which are cooked down to nutty perfection. Ginger, soy, and fish sauce make an appearance, as well. The dipping sauce is an easy mixture of sriracha, maple syrup, and a teeny bit of fish sauce. These would be perfect for the upcoming game-day, but you might want to make a double batch or more as, in my experience, I never seem to make enough when I share these spring rolls with anyone.

Vegetable Spring Rolls

Makes 2 dozen mini spring rolls. 

There is a great Asian market not far from where I live that stocks fresh/frozen/pantry items from all over Asia. It’s pretty much amazing. I urge you to seek out a market in your area if you haven’t already…there are so many fun ingredients to be found! I used a mini wrapper that they stock, but you could use the regular size. Just use 2-3 times more of the filling per roll. These wrappers are not the translucent rice ones, or the thicker, wonton-like ones. You are looking for the ones that are square and look like the thinnest of crepes. They come frozen, so just leave them in the refrigerator for a few hours to overnight to defrost. While the wrappers can be delicate to peel apart, they do have some stretch. 

1 quart of oil (I used canola), for frying, plus 2 teaspoons

8 ounces (about 4 loosely packed cups) shredded cabbage

1 small carrot, peeled and julienned or grated coarsely

4 ounces cleaned mushrooms, stems and caps, diced

1/4 large onion, sliced thin

2 loosely packed cups spinach

1 Tablespoon grated, fresh ginger

2 teaspoons fish sauce

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1 Tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

24 mini spring roll wrappers (or 12 if using regular sized ones)

water for sealing

Dipping Sauce:

3 Tablespoons Sriracha

2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon fish sauce, or to taste

In a small bowl whisk together the ginger, fish sauce, sesame oil, and soy sauce. Set aside.

In a very hot wok or large skillet, stir fry the cabbage, carrots, onion, and spinach with 1 teaspoon of oil until the vegetables are just starting to soften and some of the edges start to brown. Scrape the vegetables into a bowl and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, cook the mushrooms with the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil over medium heat with a pinch of salt to help release the liquid. Continue to cook the mushrooms until they turn golden brown. Scrape into the bowl with the vegetable mixture. Stir the ginger-soy mixture into the filling mixture to combine. Allow the filling to cool to room temperature before beginning the wrapping process. You can do this step the day before and refrigerate, covered, until ready to use. If the filling is wet after refrigerating, just drain the liquid so the spring rolls don’t become soggy. 

Whisk together the dipping sauce ingredients in a small bowl.

Place a spring roll wrapper on a flat surface so that it looks like a diamond, keep the rest of the wrappers covered by a damp tea towel. Place about a tablespoon of filling  on the lower 1/3 of the wrapper, fold the bottom point over the filling and roll 2/3 of the way up. Fold in sides, wet the final point lightly with the water, seal, and place on a plate. Repeat with the remaining filling and wrappers.

Heat 1 quart of oil (4 cups) in a high-sided pan (I like to use a wide saucepan with tallish sides), you will know it’s hot enough when you stick a skewer or chopstick into the oil and bubbles immediately form on the stick. Fry the spring rolls in batches until golden and crisp, anywhere from 3-4 minutes. Drain spring rolls on paper towels and serve hot and crisp with the dipping sauce.