Archive for the ‘Asian’ Category

Homemade Takeout

The food-focused internet is positively abuzz with recipes for Chinese dumplings, stir fries, and noodles to celebrate the Chinese New Year. It doesn’t seem to matter what I’ve packed to eat for the day: just a few minutes skimming my Google Reader has me craving Chinese food well before lunchtime.

Aside from vegetable-packed stir fries (and an occasional, unbelievably tasty batch of potstickers), I don’t cook a lot of Chinese food at home. Most recipes tend to call for ingredients that I don’t usually have on hand, and it’s soooooo easy to order takeout. But I was recently invited by a fellow blogger, Diana of Appetite for China, to participate in a “Virtual Potluck” to celebrate the New Year and the release of her new cookbook, The Chinese Takeout Cookbook. She posted six sneak-peek recipes from the book on her site. And my only task? Make one, adapted it to my own needs, and post! How could I resist?

General Tso's Chicken

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Pan of dinner
Frequently, when I go to my parents’ house, the organizing spirit seizes me with an iron grip and won’t be satisfied until I’ve emptied out the pantry, sorted every package and box and can of food, and replaced them again. It’s usually a comical affair as my mom and I chuckle at the ridiculous artifacts of gift baskets and deep discounts we find lurking at the back of the cupboard. And upon returning home, I tend to find myself inspired to root through my own pantry to create meals with odds and ends I already have on hand.

Almond Chicken

This dish came out of one such rooting. An excess of white rice, leftover almonds from my holiday toffee-making, a can of water chestnuts, and chicken and peas from the freezer, seemingly disparate parts, became something great together as this Almond Chicken. With the addition of a green onion and a bit of sherry and soy sauce, it’s a quick meal that requires only a few minutes of stir-frying and a fluffy bed of rice.

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I told you on Thursday, when I posted this Ginger Apple Chutney, that I would have a recipe utilizing it that would blow your dang socks off. This, my friends, is it.

I must be honest: until about one year ago, I never so much as ordered potstickers or Chinese dumplings as take-out. I thought they looked, frankly, kind of gross. So sad and pekid compared to the seemingly superior fried wontons farther down the menu.

Oh, how times have changed.

Suddenly, I’ve become obsessed with these tiny pouches of savory filling. I order them whenever I find them on a menu and often abandon any pretense of planning to order an entree, simply doubling up on potstickers. As someone who loves ravioli, finger food, and anything dippable, I really can’t say why it took me 25 years to see the salty, potsticker-y light.

And what better way to truly embrace the potsticker than to make them from scratch? Having found this fantastic recipe for filling, I also wanted to try my hand at making homemade wonton/potsticker wrappers. That’s just sort of what I do here.

While it is a bit time-consuming and I totally understand if you want to buy yours from the store, I urge you to try it at least once from scratch, especially if you have a pasta crank. These homemade wrappers are soft, not at all rubbery, and can be made in any size that you want (though I found a 3-inch diameter to be absolutely perfect).

Like most doughs, homemade wonton wrappers start with a sifter full of flour, some warm water, and a fork.

Once the dough is mixed, barely pliable due to its low moisture content, it needs to sit for a while. Just cover the bowl with a damp cloth so the little moisture that IS in this dough doesn’t escape.

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For the last couple of weeks, my Google Reader has been buzzing with “game day” recipes. Game day party decorations. And game day craft projects (which seems a bit bizarre, don’t you think?), all in preparation that un-official American holiday: the Super Bowl!


I must confess, (braces for judgement) I’ve never really watched the Super Bowl. Neither of my parents were ever particularly big sports fan, and more often than not, we would go skiing or see a movie on Super Bowl Sunday to take advantage of empty slopes and matinee tickets. In fact, I was in college before I sat down to watch my first Super Bowl work on a paper in the corner at my dorm’s game day party.

But the food, the food! Such a celebratory spread of mind-bendingly delicious snack food I’ve never seen! Wings and ranch and chips and dips and cookies and sodas and crackers and cheeses and and and and… it’s an ode to snacking as much as it is to football. And I’m not a hater. If I could live on chips and salsa, I would totally do it.

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So, I actually feel a little silly about the recipe I’m about to give, mostly because I rarely measure ANY of the ingredients when I make it myself. I also change the ingredients based on what’s in season and what I have. A lot.

But I’m sharing anyway because, quite simply, I love stir fry. I make it all the time. I mean, what an awesome go-to meal! It’s warm. It’s savory. It’s quick. It makes great leftovers. And it’s chock full of whatever vegetables are in season.

This is my first spring living in North Carolina, and I must say, I am impressed by the bounty of produce that is already available at the farmers market. Maybe this is all old hat for life-long North Carolinians, but to see this many vegetables fresh from the fields in early May is astonishing to me.

Now, I definitely could have gone with just these and had almost completely local stir fry. But I must confess, a few of my favorite stir fry add-ins are definitely not from around here. These three in particular lend a crunchiness that I find delectable against softened vegetables and chewy rice.

You should use whatever vegetables you want. My dream stir fry is probably not the same as your dream stir fry, and in fact, you may think I’m a bit odd for having a “dream stir fry” at all. Really, who says that?

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