Pan-Fried Ginger Chicken Dumplings – Happy Lunar New Year!

Pan-Fried Ginger Chicken Dumplings

Today marks the first day of Tết {Vietnamese Lunar New Year} – so allow me to say Chúc Mừng Năm Mới!!

Like the good Vietnamese gal I am, I’ve spent the past several days cleaning up the house, running to the bank to get “new money” to stuff in the red envelopes for lì xi (lucky money), paying off my bills and finishing everything else Mom used to tell us to do in preparation for Tết. Hey- I do what I can to deflect any bad ju-ju!

I expect that our clan’s Tết celebration on Sunday will be filled with a lot of shenanigans, new year’s wishes, a bit of gambling and a whole lot of eating! Braised bamboo, crab, sticky rice, roast pork, stuffed rice cakes and a ton more. I CAN’T WAIT!

Pan-Fried Ginger Chicken Dumplings

To get in the new year’s spirit, I decided to make some dumplings. Truthfully, this style of dumpling isn’t traditional for Tết but they’re quite common for Chinese New Year celebrations. Dumplings are eaten because they symbolize wealth & richness as their shape resembles Chinese gold ingots.

This time around I decided to fill the dumplings primarily with ground chicken, shiitake mushrooms, cabbage, some aromatics and a TON of fresh ginger. I often use a pork & shrimp filling as well but you could use almost anything that tickles your fancy. Just one thing, you’ll want to cook a bit of the filling before you start assembling the dumplings so that you can adjust the seasonings. Trust me, you don’t want to stuff 100 dumplings before you discover that your filling is bland.

Pan-Fried Ginger Chicken Dumplings

As for the dumpling skins/wrappers, let me be the first to admit that I never make my own and I’m happy to just grab a package of the pre-made ones. I’m sure there’s a lot of pros of going 100% homemade but the thought of rolling out all of those super thin rounds is just too daunting. But one day I’ll give it a try— ya know….bragging rights and all.

If you opt to buy the packaged skins, I’d recommend the egg-less Shanghai style wrappers. But if you’re in a bind or live in an area where it’s difficult to procure Shanghai style wrappers, you could use wonton skins. The texture and flavor will be a bit different though as those are typically are made with eggs.

Pan-Fried Ginger Chicken Dumplings

Once you’ve mixed up the filling, you’re ready to assemble the little dumplings.

  • Wet the edges to help seal the edges,
  • Add a heaping teaspoon of filling,
  • Fold in half and pinch the center,
  • Fold 3-4 pleats to the right and then pinch and crease the end to seal,
  • Fold 3-4 pleats to the left and then pinch and crease the end to seal.

And that’s it! The filled dumplings should form a slight crescent shape and be able to sit upright. Alternatively you can fold the dumplings so that they lay flat. Instructions on how to fold a flat dumpling can be found here.

Man…I have the most wrinkly fingers and desperately need a manicure— but I digress.

Pan-Fried Ginger Chicken Dumplings

Keep on filling, folding, and pleating…..don’t worry, it gets faster once you get the rhythm down.

At this point, you can either pan-fry the dumpling right away or freeze them so that you can have them whenever you have a dumpling hankering. If you do choose to freeze them, be sure to freeze them in a single layer on a baking sheet for a few hours before stacking them in a container. If you don’t, they’ll clump up together while they freeze.

Pan-Fried Ginger Chicken Dumplings

Once you’re ready to cook up these little buggers, grab a skillet that has a fitted lid and fry them in a single layer for a minute or two. You’ll then want to add a bit of water and slap on the lid to allow the dumplings to steam and finish cooking.

Pan-Fried Ginger Chicken Dumplings

And that’s it! Deliciously juicy and flavorful dumplings that are ready to be dunked into a quickly made sauce of soy, rice wine vinegar and a few other goodies.

Pan-Fried Ginger Chicken Dumplings

Well Friends, let me again say – Chúc Mừng Năm Mới!! I wish you all an incredible Year of the Horse filled with health, prosperity, wisdom, and joy!!

____________________________________________

Pan-Fried Ginger Chicken Dumplings
Makes approximately 50 dumplings

Ingredients:

Dumplings:
2 cups finely chopped Napa cabbage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound ground chicken
1 cup minced shiitake mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped scallions, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons finely minced shallots
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
2 tablespoons finely minced ginger
2 tablespoons soy sauce (more, if needed)
1 tablespoon rice wine
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seed oil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 package Shanghai-style dumpling skins (50 count)
water
vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds, plus more for garnish

Dipping Sauce:
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame seed oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 scallion, chopped
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon finely minced ginger
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Place the cabbage in a large bowl, sprinkle it with salt and let sit for about 20 minutes. Wrap the cabbage in a cheesecloth or clean kitchen towel. Squeeze out and discard the excess liquid and place the drained cabbage back in the bowl.

Add the ground chicken, mushrooms, scallions, shallots, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, rice wine, sesame seed oil, and black pepper to the bowl. Using cleans hands, mix the filling until thoroughly combined. To test for seasoning, take a small spoonful of the mixture and pan fry in a non stick skillet for 1-2 minutes on each side. Taste and if needed, add more soy sauce to the uncooked filling.

Begin assembly of the dumplings. Lay one dumpling wrapper on a flat surface. Dip your finger in water and moisten the edge of the wrapper. Place about 1 heaping teaspoon of the filling in the center of the dumpling skin. Pick up the dumpling, fold it in half and pinch the center together. Starting from the center, make about 3-4 pleats on the right side of the dumpling. Repeat with the left side of the dumpling so that all the pleats point towards the center. This will also create a flat bottom to allow the dumpling to sit upright and form a slight crescent shape. Place the dumpling on a baking sheet and continue until all the filling/wrappers have been used.

Prepare the dipping sauce by whisking together all the sauce ingredients. Set aside.

To cook the dumplings, heat a large frying pan to medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon of oil. Place a single layer of the dumplings in the pan. Fry the dumplings for 1-2 minutes until the bottoms are golden. Carefully pour in about 1/4 cup of water and immediately place a tight fitting lid on the pan. Lower the heat to medium-low and allow the dumplings  to steam for 4-5 minutes. Remove the lid and cook until all the water has evaporated. Transfer the dumplings to a platter and sprinkle the tops with scallions and toasted sesame seeds. If you need to fry the dumplings in batches, use a paper towel to wipe the frying pan clean before repeating the above process. Serve warm with the dipping sauce.

*If you would like to freeze the dumplings, place the baking sheet directly into freezer for 4-5 hours after you have assembled them. Be sure that the dumplings are in a single layer and are not touching each other. Once the dumplings have frozen, you may transfer them to a sealed container. They can be kept in the freezer for a few months and should be cooked frozen. Add 1-2 additional minutes to the cooking time when pan-frying frozen dumplings.*

Gingerbread-Pear Cupcakes + Nambé Winner!

Gingerbread-Pear Cupcakes

Is it just me or is time FLYING by?!

I feel like I was just wondering what my Halloween costume was going to be and within a blink of an eye, Thanksgiving has come and gone and now we’re barreling towards the Winter Holidays. YIKES!

But with the Winter Holidays comes all the flavors that I adore —- and gingerbread probably tops the lot.

These gingerbread cuppies are wonderfully spiced, deeply flavored with molasses & fresh ginger and are quite moist. I added in some pears for an additional level of flavor and texture and think they paired well with the spiced frosting. However, if you feel like cutting out some sweetness, simply serve the cupcakes inverted as the pears will act as a wonderful “topping”. Either way, your guests will adore you for them.

Gingerbread-Pear Cupcakes

And now for the winner of our Nambe platter! Drum Roll please………….

CONGRATS Ryan M. who said he would use this platter to feature local cheeses and jams he has made this year. MMMmmm!! Ryan, please check your email for instructions.

THANK YOU to everyone who participated! And a big THANKS to our friends at Nambe!!!!

______________________________________________________

Gingerbread-Pear Cupcakes with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes approximately 24-28 cupcakes

Ingredients:

Batter
2½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup boiling water
2 teaspoons baking soda
¾ cup molasses
1¼ cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, beaten
½ tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 cup chopped pears

Frosting
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon molasses
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5-6 cups confectioner sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line muffin tin with paper cups.

In a bowl, sift together the flour and dried spices. Set aside.

In another large bowl, whisk together the boiling water, baking soda, sugar and molasses until combined. Stir in the vegetable oil. Allow the liquids to cool slightly. Mix in the dried ingredients and then the eggs, vanilla extract and fresh ginger. Once the batter has been combined, carefully fold in the pears.

Fill the paper cups three-quarters full and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of them comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pans on a wire rack 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

While cupcakes are cooling, prepare the frosting. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Whip in molasses, cinnamon, and cloves. Gradually whip in the confectioner sugar, ½ cup at a time. Continue adding sugar until you reach your desired consistency. Fill a piping bag with the frosting and pipe large swirls on top of the cooled cupcakes.

Spicy Prawns with Ginger Peanut Noodles

Spicy Prawns with Ginger Peanut Noodles

I was thrilled at the chance to participate in this month’s 24×24 with Foodbuzz—particularly since the theme was focused on budget friendly meals. And not only did our meal need to be budget conscience but we had to use items already found in our pantries. Sounds like the making of a good cooking show to me.

I began thinking of things that I ALWAYS have on hand either in my cupboards or fridge and came up with the following things:

  1. Dried pastas
  2. Fresh Garlic and Chili (whether chili sauce, paste, or even fresh chili peppers)
  3. Some type of protein in the freezer (usually shrimp or chicken)
  4. Canned vegetables
  5. Condiments (Remember, I’m a condiment monster.)
  6. Booze (Um……self explanatory.)

With that list, it became a no brainer for me………. I was going to make some type of pasta for this challenge.

 

 

Nini and Nina_9.24.11

I decided to make Ginger Peanut Noodles for lunch with my nieces and served it with some spicy grilled prawns. Stephanie and Nina are always such willing taste testers for my experiments. And don’t let their age fool you, they’ve got quite the refined palettes. Oh—and in case you missed the photo above, Bella was trying to squeeze in on the taste testing, too.  She heard “peanut butter” and came running.

I’ve made these Ginger Peanut Noodles on several occasions with just items pulled right out of my pantry. The type of noodle can be substituted with whatever you have on hand as I’ve used spaghetti, fettuccine, and even chow mein—anything goes! For this particular preparation we happened to have some red bell pepper which added great texture and freshness. However, thinly sliced cucumber, zucchini or even bean sprouts would be great in it, too.

Bella is still focused on the fact that I just said “peanut butter”.

 

 

Bella_9.24.11

 

 

As for the protein, I happen to prefer prawns with this but chicken, pork, or even tofu would be just as delicious. Just use the same marinade for whichever you choose.

 

 

Spicy Prawns with Ginger Peanut Noodles

This entire meal comes together in about 30 minutes and is perfect for a weeknight dinner or when you’re short on time during the weekends.

Fast? Budget friendly? Yummy?

Now that is a Trifecta of Goodness.

________________________________________________

Spicy Prawns with Ginger Peanut Noodles
Serves approximately 6

Ingredients:

Prawns:
1 Pound Prawns, shelled, deveined with tails on
1 Teaspoon Red Chili Flakes
1 Tablespoon Sriracha Chili Sauce, or chili sauce of your choice
1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, finely minced
1 Tablespoon Low Sodium Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon Sesame Olive Oil
2 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil

Noodles:
¾ Cup Smooth Peanut Butter
1 Tablespoon Honey
1/3 Cup Low Sodium Soy Sauce
¼ Cup Rice Wine Vinegar
1½ Tablespoons Sesame Oil
1½ Tablespoons Sambal Chili Paste
2 Tablespoons Fresh Ginger, finely minced
1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, finely minced
1 Teaspoon Lime Zest
½ Tablespoon Fresh Lime Juice
¼ – ½ Cup Hot Starchy Water (from boiling the pasta)
1 Whole Red Bell Pepper, thinly sliced
2 Scallions, cut into 1 inch strips
1 Pound Linguine
*Top with ¼ Cup Toasted Sesame Seeds and ½ Cup of Crushed Roasted Peanuts

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Cook linguine noodles barely over al dente.

Combine the prawns with all of its marinade ingredients together in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate.

In a blender, combine the first 10 ingredients of the noodles together. Blend until smooth. Add the starchy liquid from the pasta water until you reach the desired consistency—about ¼ – ½ Cup. Set aside.

Bring a grill pan or a large skillet to medium high heat. Lightly cover with cooking spray and cook prawns for 1-2 minutes on each side until they are opaque and golden. Remove to a clean plate and cover.

When then noodles have cooked, drain well and return to the hot pot. Ladle in a few spoonfuls of the peanut sauce at a time until the noodles have been thoroughly coated. Toss in the scallions and bell pepper slices. Plate with a mound of the peanut noodles, prawns, and sprinkle the tops of each plate with sesame seeds and crushed peanuts.

Đậu Hũ Nước Đường Gừng (Vietnamese Soy Pudding with Ginger Syrup)

Đậu Hũ Nước Đường Gừng (Vietnamese Soy Pudding with Ginger Syrup)


Desserts (tráng miệng) are not a huge component to Vietnamese cuisine. Vietnamese “desserts” are usually fresh fruits but there are a few such as various forms of chè (sweet soups/puddings), rau câu (flavored jellos/gelatin), bánh (“cakes” that could include sweet cassava cakes, taro cakes, glutinous rice flour & coconut milk cakes, doughnuts, etc.), or kẹo (“candies” that are flavored with coconut, sesame, etc.).

Growing up, our Mom and grandma Mệ would often make such desserts. Some family favorites included Chè xôi nước (sticky rice dumplings filled with mung beans in a ginger-sugar soup), Chè đậu trắng (with black eyed peas),  Chè đậu xanh (with mung bean), and the gorgeous & colorful thạch Mom would create.

Lately, our big sis, N, has taken up the reigns in this area and has shared her preparation of Đậu Hũ Nước Đường Gừng (Soy Pudding with Ginger Syrup) with me…..and well, now you :)

Đậu Hũ Nước Đường Gừng (Vietnamese Soy Pudding with Ginger Syrup)

Đậu Hũ Nước Đường Gừng (also spelled as “đậu phụ” ortàu hũ”) is surprisingly easy to make, tasty, and only uses 5 ingredients! Unsweetened soy milk is combined with agar-agar and is topped with a generous helping of syrup that has been flavored with slightly spicy & aromatic ginger. You just can’t get any easier than that!

The texture of Đậu Hũ Nước Đường Gừng is up to personal preference. You can find it quite soft and silky—kind of like the texture of panna cotta. In those cases, the Đậu Hũ  is usually made with gelatin. However, if you prefer a slightly firmer texture (like how my nieces and I do) then the ratios below with agar-agar are the way to go. And by using agar-agar and the appropriate sugar, it can be a great Vegan dessert, too!

I also like to sometimes flavor my Đậu Hũ with lá duá (pandan). To me, pandan has a floral and even coconut flavor to it. If I have fresh leaves, I’ll bruise the leaves up and steep it in the soy milk before adding in the agar-agar. If using the pandan flavoring (as seen above), I add about 1-2 teaspoons of it into the liquids before ladling it into the serving dishes.

If you’re looking for a dessert to cool down with this summer, try out this Đậu Hũ Nước Đường Gừng. It’s light but will fulfill any sweet tooth with very minimal guilt :)

___________________________________________________________

Đậu Hũ Nước Đường Gừng (Vietnamese Soy Pudding with Ginger Syrup)
Serves 8

Ingredients:

4 Cups Unsweetened Soy Milk
½ Tablespoon Agar-Agar Powder
1 Cup Light Brown Sugar
½ Cup Warm Water
3 Inch Ginger Knob, peeled and sliced

In a saucepan, heat soy milk over medium heat until it begins to simmer. Whisk in agar-agar powder until dissolved. Cook on a low simmer, mixing frequently for approximately 7-8 minutes. Using a fine mesh sieve, strain the liquids before dividing between 8 4-ounce dishes. After a few minutes, use toothpicks and run along the side/tops of each dish to remove & discard the thin “skin” layer that has formed on top. Allow to cool to room temperature on the counter then, cover each dish and refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours or until firm.

While the tofu is chilling, prepare the ginger syrup. In a sauce pan, use a rubber spatula to stir and dissolve the water and sugar. Add in the ginger slices and cook on medium low heat until it reaches a slight simmer. Reduce the heat to low and allow the syrup to cook and thicken for about 10-15 minutes—-be careful not to burn the sugars. Cool the syrup before using.

To serve, spoon a heaping tablespoon (or more if desired) of the ginger syrup over each dish. Enjoy!

 

 

 

**This is my submission to Delicious Vietnam #16 a monthly blogging event celebrating Vietnamese cuisine which was started by Anh of A Food Lover’s Journey and Hong & Kim of  Ravenous Couple. For more information, please visit Delicious Vietnam Thanks to Chi Anh from Door to My Kitchen for hosting this month!**

Celebrating Tết with Mứt Gừng (Vietnamese Candied Ginger)

Mứt Gừng (Vietnamese Candied Ginger)

 

Chúc Mừng Năm Mới!!

That’s right, it’s Tết–the Vietnamese Lunar New Year! For Vietnamese folks, we are welcoming in the Year of the Cat. For our Chinese neighbors, it’s the Year of the Rabbit. :)

There are so many customs and traditions that go along with Tết–from making sure your house/home is clean, offering ancestral prayers and thanks, eating delicious food, playing games like bầu cua cá cọp, going to festivals and my personal favorite—getting lì xì (red envelopes of money to bring luck and good fortune).

Tết is a multiple day celebration—which means food galore! Bánh chưng (sticky rice cakes filled with meats, mung beans, etc.), Xôi (savory or sweet glutinous rice), Măng khô (braised bamboo shoots), and all sorts of Mứt (preserved/candied vegetables and fruits).

And although the trays of Mứt always had a wide variety of fruits, veggies, & nuts to choose from (coconut, lotus seeds, persimmons, mandarins, etc.), my favorite was Mứt Gừng —candied or crystallized ginger which my grandmother made all of the time.

 

Mứt Gừng (Vietnamese Candied Ginger)

 

The thin slices of candied ginger are not only yummy but they can be used for health ailments too. Nausea or motion sickness can often be curtailed by chewing/sucking on Mứt Gừng and next time you have a cough, forgo the drops and grab a bag of Mứt Gừng instead. You can also filter the boiling water used to cook the ginger into a calming ginger tea. All natural! And as for baking, I’ve also used this Candied Ginger in my Scones and to top Spiced Cupcakes. So many options!

I want to give a big THANKS to my cousin An for giving me a tutorial on Mứt Gừng—the woman even took step by step pics on her phone for me. Now that’s a trooper—-although I’m not sure how she’ll feel about me adding the lemon zest. :)

So allow me to wish you all an extremely happy, prosperous, and healthy New Year!

Chúc Mừng Năm Mới!!

————————————————————–

Mứt Gừng (Vietnamese Candied Ginger)
Makes approximately one pound

Ingredients:

1 Pound Fresh Ginger
2 Cups Granulated Sugar
1/2 Cup Fresh Lemon Juice, divided
1 Teaspoon Fresh Lemon Zest
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Fill a large bowl with cold water and add 1/4 cup of lemon juice. Peel the ginger, removing any blemishes from the root and then place in the bowl of water until all pieces have been peeled. Using a mandoline with its thinnest plate, slice the ginger roots. Place the ginger slices in the bowl of water until all have been cut.

Fill a large pot with water and the rest of the lemon juice. Transfer the ginger slices to the pot and bring to a boil. While the ginger is boiling, spray two cooling racks with nonstick spray and place them on cookie sheets that have been lined with foil. Cook the ginger for 25 minutes, skimming off any impurities that may build up. Drain the slices in a colander and flush with cool tap water. Rinse the ginger 2 or 3 times and shake off excess water. Use paper towels to dry the ginger slices off well.

In a large pan over medium-low heat, add the ginger slices with sugar. Use chopsticks to coat the slices with sugar. Continue to stir as the sugar begins to melt and bubble. Stir in the vanilla extract and lemon zest. Continue cooking and stirring the ginger until the liquid has evaporated and the sugar has crystallized onto the slices. This process takes about 15-20 minutes.

Remove from heat and transfer the slices to the cooling racks. Be sure to spread the slices into one even layer—flatten out any slices that may have folded over or curled up. Allow an hour for the slices to completely dry. Store in Ziploc bags or other airtight containers.

Ginger Scones

Years ago my sister came home with a DELISH scone recipe. Truth be told, before that, I didn’t even know I liked scones. I had thought this traditional British quick-bread was always too dry and lacked substance. That is, until I tried these. :)

Nancy Silverton of the La Brea Bakery in Los Angeles, California has created these killer Ginger Scones that are perfectly flaky, somewhat fluffy, and are further accentuated by the candied ginger. L-O-V-E them! It’s quickly been adopted by my entire family and is my go-to when hosting folks over for brunch or for any goodie basket.

Give these a try. They’re so easy and tasty that you’ll love them, too!

Chopping the Candied Ginger

 

Golden Beauties out of the oven

 

All that’s missing is a steaming hot cup of coffee…or tea if you want to go traditional. :)

 

______________________________________________

 

Ginger Scones
From Nancy Silverton‘s Pastries of the La Brea Bakery
Makes 8-12  Scones (Depending on size of each scone)
Special item: 3-inch round cutter

Ingredients:

2¼ Cups All Purpose Flour
1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Lemon Zest
1½ Sticks (6 ounces) Unsalted Butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
4½ Ounces Candied Ginger, finely chopped into 1/4-inch pieces to equal 2/3 cup
¾ Cup Heavy Cream, plus extra for brushing the tops of the scones

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, and baking powder, and pulse or mix on low to incorporate. Add the lemon zest and butter, and pulse on and off, or mix on low, untl the mixture is pale yellow and the consistency of fine meal.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the ginger. Make a well in the center and pour in the cream. Using one hand, draw in the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.

Wash and dry your hands and dust them with flour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead a few times to gather it into a ball. Roll or pat the dough into a circle about 3/4 inch thick. Cut out the circles, cutting as closely together as possible and keeping the trimmings intact.

Gather the scraps, pat and press the pieces back together, and cut out the remaining dough. Place the scones 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Brush the tops with the remaining cream.

Bake for 12 to 16 minutes, until the surface cracks and they are slightly browned.