Sichuan Boiled Dumplings in Chili Oil

Posted on

“Nothing worth having comes easy,” a wise person once said. I’m pretty sure they were talking about these dumplings.

Spicy, garlicy, and out-of-this-world delicious, these meat-filled dumplings are one of my favorite things to cook and eat. They’re also time consuming to make, but I promise you they’ll be worth it when you find yourself wondering if it’s okay to lick your plate. (Yes. Yes, it is.)

Sichuan boiled dumplings in chili oil

Ingredients:

1 pound ground turkey or chicken
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 dried shiitake mushroom, soaked until softened, minced
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch
30 round dumpling wrappers
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ground pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar or balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons hot bean paste
1 tablespoon hot chile oil

1. For the filling, combine the turkey, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 1/3 of the green onion, mushroom, 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil, and 1/3 cup water in a bowl. Mix well and freeze for half an hour to firm the mixture to make it easier to handle.

2. Dissolve the cornstarch in 3 tablespoons cold water in a small bowl to make a thin paste. Moisten the edges of a dumpling wrapper by dipping your finger into the paste and running it over the edge of the wrapper. Place about a teaspoon of the filling in the center of the wrapper. Bring the edges of the wrapper up to meet at the top of the filling and pinch them closed, squeezing the dough. Repeat with the remaining filling and wrappers.

3. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add the dumplings and cook until the filling is cooked through and the dumplings are floating on top of the water, about 4 minutes.

4. While the dumplings are cooking, make the sauce: heat a wok over high heat. Add the remaining tablespoon of vegetable oil and heat until it shimmers. Add the remaining green onions, garlic, and black pepper. Stir-fry for 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl and add the sugar, vinegar, hot bean paste, remaining tablespoon soy sauce, remaining teaspoon sesame oil, and hot chili oil. Mix well.

5. Drain the dumplings in a colander. Place the dumplings in a serving bowl and pour the sauce over. Serve warm.

Beef and Asparagus Stir-Fry with Noodle Pancake

Posted on

I’ve been making this dish since I was a teenager. I can’t even remember the source anymore, and over the years, it’s changed from the original recipe to something entirely anew. But it remains one of my favorite things to cook and eat. The Hong Kong-style crispy noodles soak up the spicy, savory sauce oh so wonderfully. The meat is tender. The vegetables are crisp. This dish, my friends, hits all the right notes.

It may take a while to cook, but the results are well worth it. The leftovers won’t last nearly as long as you think they will. Consider yourself warned.

Beef and asparagus stir-fry with noodle pancake

1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon garlic
1 teaspoon ginger
1 lb sirloin beef or flank steak, sliced thin
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon chili-garlic sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon sesame oil
8 ounces fresh thin Chinese egg noodles
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces

1. Marinade beef: stir rice wine, soy, 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch, garlic and ginger in a large bowl. Add beef to marinade.

2. In a separate bowl, mix chicken broth, oyster sauce, chili garlic sauce, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch, pepper and sesame oil together. Set aside.

3. Cook noodles in large pot, according to directions. Drain, rinse under cold water, drain again.

4. Heat nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and coat. Spread noodles evenly and cook, pressing lightly from time to time to form a cake, until bottom is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Turn cake over. Drizzle one tablespoon oil on bottom and cook other side, about 5 minutes. Transfer to plate.

5. Heat wok over high heat and add remaining tablespoon of oil. Add meat and stir fry until cooked through and no longer pink. Remove from wok. Add onion to wok and stir fry for two minutes. Add asparagus and cook for four minutes.

6. Return meat to wok, pour in sauce and bring to boil. Cook until slightly thickened, about two minutes. Spoon over noodle pancake and serve.

Chicken Chow Fun

Posted on

I’m trying to cut down on pasta lately, but I’d like to think that this dish doesn’t count because it uses rice noodles as opposed to flour-based noodles. Rice doesn’t count, right? At least that’s what the Iranian in me says.

Carb delirium aside, this chicken chow fun dish is a much healthier (and delicious!) version of the restaurant classic. The meat is lean, the oil is minimal, and the vegetables are plentiful.

Chicken chow fun

Ingredients:

1 pound fresh or dried flat rice noodles, about 1/2 inch wide
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 green onions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 cup bean sprouts
1/4 cup roasted peanuts

1. If using dried rice noodles, pour enough warm water over them in a large bowl to cover completely. Let soak until softened, about 30 minutes. Drain thoroughly. If using fresh rice noodles, run under warm water and separate strands.

2. Marinate the chicken: Stir 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce, rice wine, garlic, cornstarch, and pepper together in a bowl until the cornstarch is dissolved. Toss the chicken gently in the marinade until coated. Let stand for 20 minutes.

3. Prepare the seasonings: stir the remaining soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, and sugar together in a bowl until the sugar is dissolved.

4. Heat a wok over high heat until hot. Add oil and swirl to coat the sides. Add the noodles and stir-fry until the noodles are lightly browned along the edges, about 2 minutes. Place the noodles onto a plate and set aside.

5. Add the chicken to the wok and stir-fry until no longer pink, about 3 minutes. Add both onions and the ginger and stir-fry until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Slide the noodles into the wok, scatter the bean sprouts over them, and pour in the seasonings. Toss until the mixture is heated through and the chicken is coated evenly with the seasonings, about 4 minutes.

6. Stir in the peanuts, place the contents of the wok onto a serving plate, and serve.

Parmesan Polenta with Beef Ragu

Posted on

I want to say something about how the weather is getting chillier by the day and we’re craving comfort foods yadda yadda, but the truth of the matter is that this is California and we’ve been in an endless summer for years now. Our drought is the new normal and our winter coats have laid untouched since 2011. But come autumn, I still crave the notion of warming comfort food, even if it’s become something of a masquerade here in the golden state.

This creamy, cheesy polenta with ragu hits all the comfort food notes without taking up hours on the stove to cook. This is an easy weeknight meal, and the less time we spend over our stoves, the cooler our homes will stay, and the more we can fool ourselves into thinking it’s cold outside. Seasons still exist, right?

Parmesan polenta with ragu

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground lean beef
1 small onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup sliced basil leaves, plus more for garnish
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 1/3 cups instant polenta
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish

1. Heat oil over medium heat in a large pot. Cook beef until browned, about 5 minutes. Add onion, garlic, 1/4 cup basil, oregano, rosemary, chile flakes, 1/2 tsp. salt, and the pepper and cook until onion is softened, 6 to 7 minutes. Add tomato paste and diced tomatoes and simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes.

2. In the meantime, bring 1 quart water to a boil in a medium pot. Add polenta and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt and cook, stirring, until polenta thickens, 3 to 4 minutes. Slowly add up to 1/2 additional cup of water if necessary to thin. Stir in butter and 1/3 cup cheese. Serve polenta topped with rag├╣, basil, and more cheese.

Linguine with Squid and Shellfish

Posted on

There is a little restaurant in an alleyway in Trastavere, Rome’s bohemian neighborhood near the Tiber River. My sister and I spent a week here a few years ago during a cold, frigid spell in December. The weather meant that the quintessential Roman markets filled with fresh produce were sparse. No tomatoes, no artichokes, no squash blossoms waiting to be turned into something delicious.

But oh, the pasta. December is just as fine a time for pasta as any other, and I had one of my favorite renditions in Trastavere. The name of the restaurant escapes me now, but the pasta hasn’t. Brimming with seafood and flecked with chilis, I’ve recreated this dish at home. This version calls for pickled hot cherry peppers, but if you can get your hands on some oil packed Calabrian chiles, all the better.

Linguine with squid and shellfish

Ingredients:

1/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
salt
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 pound cleaned small squid, bodies cut into 1/4-inch rings
1 pound linguine pasta
2 pounds clams, scrubbed
2 pounds mussels, scrubbed
1/2 pound bay scallops
4 pickled hot cherry peppers, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1. In a larger saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook over low heat, stirring, until it just starts to brown, 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of the parsley, the crushed red pepper and a pinch of salt and cook until fragrant. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Stir in the squid, cover and braise over low heat, stirring, until tender, 30 minutes.

2. In a large saucepan of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente; drain.

3. While the pasta cooks, add the clams, mussels and scallops to the squid. Cover and cook over high heat until the clams and mussels just start to open, 3 minutes. Uncover and cook until the clams and mussels open fully and the broth is slightly reduced, 4 minutes. Add the pasta, pickled peppers, lemon juice and the remaining 1/4 cup of parsley and cook over moderate heat, tossing, until the pasta is hot and coated in a light sauce, 3 minutes. Transfer the pasta to shallow bowls and serve warm.