Appetizers/Small Plates · Seafood

Seafood with Chinese Chive Dumplings

April 2018 Fam Din
Remember these beauties?

They were one of the gajillion dumplings I had made for my Lucasaurus’ bday Fam Din.

It’s only fitting. He’s one of the generals in my Dumpling Army after all.

Seafood & Chinese Chive Dumplings
Since the other dumplings were filled with either pork or chicken, it was a no-brainer that a seafood version had to join the party. I opted for a combo of shrimp and scallops but really, you can use anything you’d like.

And a perfect pairing to seafood are Chinese Chives — also known as Garlic Chives. Chinese Chives have a flavor that is a mix between scallions and onions –and they are HIGHLY aromatic.

Seafood & Chinese Chive Dumplings
I use pre-packaged skins for these Seafood and Chinese Chives Dumplings and prefer the Shanghai style wrappers. I like their thinness and color once cooked.

Pan-Fried Ginger Chicken Dumplings
I usually have a few packages tucked in my freezer for those times when I’m inspired to restock my dumplings stash.

Seafood & Chinese Chive Dumplings

Aren’t they adorable? Like little pouches?

Seafood & Chinese Chive Dumplings
Or like a roly poly?

Delicious — however you see them.

Seafood & Chinese Chive Dumplings
When it’s time to cook them, just line a steamer with either cabbage leaves….

Seafood & Chinese Chive Dumplings
…or sheets of parchment paper with holes cut into them. The holes allow the steam to vent through the levels and cook the dumplings through.

April 2018 Fam Din
After about 8 minutes – voila!

April 2018 Fam Din
Super juicy, plump and perfect when dunked in the soy-vinegar-chili-sesame sauce I’ve included below.

April 2018 Fam Din
Hope you like them! ❤

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Seafood with Chive Dumplings
Makes approximately 50-75 dumpings

Dumplings:
2 cups Chinese chives, roughly chopped
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves
1 small shallot
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pound scallops
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine or other preferred rice wine
2 tablespoons soy sauce, more to taste
2 tablespoons fish sauce, more to taste
1 tablespoon sesame oil
½ tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
50-75 Shanghai style dumpling skins
cabbage leaves for steaming (optional)
chopped scallions and toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Dipping Sauce:
4 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons Chinkiang Black Vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
½ tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoons homemade Sichuan Chili Oil (both the oil and flakes)

Place the chives, ginger, garlic and shallot in a food processor. Pulse several times until all of the ingredients have broken down and become roughly the same minced texture. Add the shrimp and scallops. Pulse until the seafood is chopped but not so much that it turns into a paste – you still want some pieces for texture. Add Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, sugar and peppers. Pulse just until the ingredients have combined. Note: You can also due this all by hand but I love the convenience of using a food processor.

Test the filling for seasoning by taking a small spoonful of the mixture and pan fry in a nonstick skillet for 1-2 minutes on each side. Taste and if needed, add more soy sauce or fish sauce to the uncooked filling.

Begin assembly of the dumplings. Lay one dumpling skin 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. Next, choose one of the four following easy methods to seal the dumplings:

  1. Pick up the dumpling, fold it in half into a crescent shape and seal the entire edge by pinching the seam together. These dumplings will lay flat like my Sui Gao. -OR-
  2. Pick up the dumpling, fold it in half into a crescent. Starting from the left side, pleat – fold – and press the edges together, ensuring that you seal the entire dumpling tightly. These dumplings will lay flat but pleated like my Gyoza. -OR-
  3. Pick up the dumpling, fold it in half into a crescent 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 create a flat bottom to allow the dumpling to sit upright and form a slight crescent shape like these Pan Fried Dumplings. -OR-
  4. Pick up the dumpling, fold it in half into a crescent shape and seal the entire edge by pinching the seam together. Next, create pleats from the left side all the way to the right side—pinching well to hold. *This is how the dumplings in these photos were folded.

Whichever method you choose, place the filled dumpling on a baking sheet and continue until all the filling/skins have been used. Arrange the dumplings in a steamer (lined with cabbage leaves or parchment paper) and steam for 8-10 minutes.

While the dumplings steam, whisk all of the ingredients together for the dipping sauce and set aside.

Once the dumplings are steamed, transfer to a platter and sprinkle the scallions and sesame seeds on top. Serve immediately with sauce. ENJOY!

*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 froze, 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 steaming the dumplings.*

 

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Sunday Family Dinner

Fam Din for the Best of Buds-Birthday Boys!

April 2018 Fam Din

Before I jump in, I must admit that my hiatus from posting was due to my endless birthday celebrations.

Yes, I realize my birthday was in May but it was a big milestone and I REALLY
C-E-L-E-B-R-A-T-E-D! I was living it up!

But I’m back now to share our Family Dinner where we celebrated these two best buds – Lucas and C! It’s always a bunch of fun to celebrate their birthmonth for Fam Din and it is ALWAYS delicious.

April 2018 Fam Din

It was even more eventful this time around because seester P came down from San Francisco with her crew. Which meant this little cutie-patootie was running around soaking up QT with her big cousins!

Oh Kaelani….you melt my heart ❤

April 2018 Fam Din

Whereas BIL C was pretty open for what he wanted on the menu, Lucas was VERY specific.

Hainanese Chicken and Rice.

Dumplings.

Finally, Donuts and Mint Chip Ice Cream because he doesn’t like cake (I know…where did I go wrong?!?)

April 2018 Fam Din

Since P was in town we quickly assigned her dessert duty for Lucas’ requests. With Fam Din, we almost always have to start prepping dessert early since there’s often proofing, chilling, icing and decorating that needs to be done. So P got started on the dough the night before and used Pioneer Woman’s recipe for Glazed Doughnuts that can be found here.

April 2018 Fam Din

Although it was barely 3pm and too soon for dessert, she chose to fry them up. And you may be wondering “Why? Donuts are amazing fresh out the fryer.”

Well dear friends, it’s because the donuts were just a mere vessel to hold the bday boy’s beloved mint chip ice cream.

Oh yes, we’re talking Donut Ice Cream Sandwiches!!!

April 2018 Fam Din

We go the extra mile! Well, in this case, P went the extra mile.

Lucky Lucas

But that also didn’t stop us from trying 1 or 2 after she glazed them. Quality control after all.

April 2018 Fam Din

And what was I doing while seestrah was hard at work frying?

Doing what I often do when I’m in seester T’s backyard – sipping rosé of course! I had to do most of my prep work waayyyyy in advance for the dishes I was tasked with. You’ll see why in a bit.

Also – 5 pts if you can spot Leia in less than 2 seconds!

April 2018 Fam Din

At some point we discovered that T’s lemon tree FINALLY produced fruit…as in one.

One tiny, tiny lemon.

She was quite proud of it.

But I’ve got to admit how surprised we all were with how much juice the little bugger had!

April 2018 Fam Din

Wondering what’s going on here?

The girls decided to have a little beauty session and Nini gave Maya a little TLC on her eyebrows. Nini is basically the young Vietnamese version of Anastasia Soare – the celebrity brow specialist in Hollywood.

April 2018 Fam Din

These two ❤

April 2018 Fam Din

And while the human girls worked on their brows, the fur girls worked on their perfectly wrinkled-scrunchy faces.

Serious Princess Leia, you give Doug the Pug a run for his money.

April 2018 Fam Din

And what about this sun goddess? She loves running around in seester’s backyard exploring while trying to find ways to break out and escape to the neighborhood pathways.

That rebel.

April 2018 Fam Din

Bella was less than thrilled when I scooped her up to force her to take a pic with me. She really is more humanling than canine.

April 2018 Fam Din
Kaelani and her pops took advantage of the spa to get a little swim time in. Our munckins are quite the little fishies!

Kaelani adores her big cousin Lucas and he is very, very sweet with her.

I know you’re digging her Bowie shirt.

April 2018 Fam Din

And just like that, it was appetizer time and I was up to bat!

Birthday boy wanted dumplings for his Fam Din — ALL kinds of dumplings. With so many people to feed and the time needed to prepare different types, I ended up making them the week before and freezing them. It really was the only way to manage this time around.

First type of dumplings, my tried and true Pan-Fried Ginger Chicken Dumplings.

April 2018 Fam Din

These beauties are always a favorite with folks. With so much fresh ginger, it perfumes the ground chicken and gives it a wonderful flavor. I served these with my standard soy-ginger-black vinegar-sesame oil dipping sauce.

April 2018 Fam Din
Using the same dumplings but slightly different cooking method, I made the below laced-bottom dumpling flower.

You start off with the same method as your standard potsticker by adding a bit of oil to a skillet. You then arange the dumplings, nestled together in the pan. After the bottoms become lightly browned, you pour in a slurry (water + cornstarch) instead of plain water and then cover the skillet with a lid.

Once the liquid steams the dumplings and then evaporates, the leftover starch and oil fry up and you’re left with a lacy pattern on the bottom after they are inverted onto a dish. The texture is incredibly crispy and satisfying. I highly suggest it!

April 2018 Fam Din

The second type I prepared were Seafood with Chinese Chives Dumplings which I chose to steam.

April 2018 Fam Din

The filling was a simple combination of minced shrimp and scallops, a few aromatics and a TON of minced Chinese chives. I chose to fold these with a double-sided straight pleat to try and get a maximum amount of filling in. We’re seafood freaks after all.

April 2018 Fam Din

After a few minutes in the bamboo steamer, I topped them with fresh scallions and served them with a choice of the same dipping sauce as above or my Sichuan Chili Oil Sauce.

April 2018 Fam Din

The last version was something I had never made before – Sheng Jian Bao which are a pan fried pork soup dumpling. They’re the cousin to the thin-skin souped dumplings that I’m also obsessed with.

April 2018 Fam Din
I need to do a little more work and practice on these guys. The wrapper should be much thicker than the previous two dumplings I made – and have a bit of leaven to them. I didn’t really get that so much but the flavor of the pork filling was tasty. I’d give myself a 5 on a scale from 1-10 with these but there’s always next time!

April 2018 Fam Din
Here’s BIL R with Dad. They’re both wondering when I’ll stop bringing dumplings out because they were getting dumpling-wasted.

And OF COURSE Dad said “dumpling wasted”….not.

April 2018 Fam Din

I’ll tell you that there was one soul who was on full dumpling watch, waiting for her gramps to give her some.

Side note: If there is an open lap, she will find it and sit on it.

April 2018 Fam Din

Since bellies were full of dumplings, it was time for a Candy Land break for Kaelani and Nina. Candy Land was MY JAM back in the day!

April 2018 Fam Din

And I know I just said that our bellies were full but this is also about time when brother V rolled out with his Smoked St. Louis Style Ribs. Brother is getting REALLY good with his smoker – his smoked tri-tip is my fav thus far. P and her clan were getting tired of seeing all of our posts of V’s creations that when they came down for this visit, he promised to make them a little something.

Spoiler Alert: They were BOMB!

April 2018 Fam Din
While we were noshing on ribs, seestrah T finished up the Hainanese Chicken. Can you believe that bright yellow hue of the broth? That’s totally naturally colored! It’s a result of the skin of the fresh free-ranged chickens she got in combination with some of the aromatics she threw in.

April 2018 Fam Din
Once the chickens were cool enough to handle, she passed them over to seester N to carve. We really do make her carve and slice everything.

April 2018 Fam Din
Voila!

April 2018 Fam Din
T prepared three traditional sauces to accompany the Hainanese Chicken and Rice. The one closest to you is a Chili Sauce made from Holland chiies. The middle is a thick Sweet Dark Soy Sauce. The last is a Ginger-Garlic Sauce. The recipe for the chicken plus the sauces were adapted from The Woks of Life and can be found here.

April 2018 Fam Din
Look at the gorgeously glistening chicken and sauce!

I’m drooling.

April 2018 Fam Din
Needless to say, Lucas was a fan!

April 2018 Fam Din
And what do you serve along Hainanese Chicken and Rice? Steamed Alaskan King Crab Legs of course!!!

Ok, ok. It’s not traditional. Some may say it’s even gluttonous? Obviously not us but others may say so.

But it was one of the only items that BIL C had requested for dinner so we were definitely having them. Yeah remember the other birthday boy? Up until that point, Lucasarus was running the menu!

April 2018 Fam Din
We had consumed a crazy amount of food — even to our standards! So before we could even consider having dessert, we needed things to digest a bit.

And of course I took that opportunity to make the kids take pictures.

They’ll thank me someday…..SOME day.

Here I instructed them to give me serious faces. Kaelani totally dismissed that directive and Maya is JUST about to crack.

April 2018 Fam Din
Now this is MUCH more like them!

April 2018 Fam Din
Leo is killing it in this pic!

April 2018 Fam Din
Oh–and a little monkey managed to make it into the living room.

April 2018 Fam Din
The girls then cozied up to watch Beauty and the Beast.

Incidentally, I believe there may be a video of me out there barging into the room while belting out Belle’s opening number.

It’s what I do.

April 2018 Fam Din
And of course, the Nguyễn 5 had to snap a few pics with pops.

April 2018 Fam Din
So blurry but this pic cracks me up.

April 2018 Fam Din
And then the grand kids (minus K since it was past her bedtime) jumped in.

April 2018 Fam Din
What do we think Lucas is about to do to Nini’s head here?

April 2018 Fam Din
And then it was finally dessert time!

For LucasHomemade Glazed Donut Mint Chip Ice Cream Sandwich.

April 2018 Fam Din
Wait! Wasn’t this little elfling upstairs, asleep a minute ago!?

April 2018 Fam Din

And for CChocolate Matcha Lava Cake with Matcha Ice Cream.

April 2018 Fam Din
HAPPY BIRTHDAY LUCAS AND C!!!

April 2018 Fam Din
And now for a collective nap…. ❤

April 2018 Fam Din

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This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Various Wines
Appetizers: Pan-Fried Ginger Chicken Dumplings, Seafood with Chinese Chives Dumplings, Sheng Jian Bao, Smoked St. Louis Style Ribs
Entrees: Alaskan King Crab Legs, Hainanese Chicken and Rice
Dessert:  Homemade Glazed Donut Mint Chip Ice Cream Sandwich, Chocolate Matcha Lava Cake with Matcha Ice Cream

Sunday Family Dinner

Homemade Soup Dumplings & Tonkotsu Ramen–Because We’re Insane…

Nov 2015 Fam Din

It’s been two weeks since Thanksgiving and I think I’ve finally recovered from the madness.

Just in time for 15 full days of holiday craziness with my family.

Pray for me.

Nov 2015 Fam Din

At the close of Thanksgiving and 15+ hours of shopping, we held our monthly Family Dinner. When we had chatted about potential menu options a few weeks prior, my seesters and I agreed that we wanted dishes that were low-key and stress-free since we would have been so wiped out from Thanksgiving.

So obviously, we chose a menu that took hours and hours of preparation, that needed to be started days in advance and was highly laborious.

Apparently our strategy was slightly flawed.

We never learn…..

But as always, we started with some cocktails….. Pomegranate-Raspberry Saketinis!

I muddled a bunch of fresh raspberries with pomegranates in a pitcher. Added sake, a few glugs of vodka, several splashes of Cointreau, some fresh lime juice, pomegranate juice and then topped it off with a bit of pomegranate-berry soda.

Nov 2015 Fam Din

Then came the appetizers – Xiao Long Bao or “Shanghai Soup Dumplings”. Normally I would say that dumplings aren’t typically too difficult to make. In fact, I usually love making them and find the folding process rather relaxing.

Not these buggers! We’re all still traumatized!

Nov 2015 Fam Din

Xiao Long Bao are a Shanghainese dumpling with a very thin skin/wrapper. They’re filled with a variety of ground proteins and an aspic that once steamed, becomes soupy–thus the name Soup Dumplings! Dumplings and Soup all in one? BRILLIANT!

Seester T took the lead with these and man, did they take some prep work! Using The Woks of Life recipe, she started with the aspic. Vegans beware because essentially, it’s a natural meat gelatin.

Yes…as in J-E-L-L-O.

Pork bones and other porky bits are thrown into a pot with water and several aromatics. Everything simmers for a few hours and then is strained and chilled.

Voila—Aspic!

Nov 2015 Fam DinShe then made a ground pork filling and threw in some shrimp because surf and turf is always a good idea. Once done, the aspic was cubed up and folded into the filling.

Next, we enlisted our niece Nini to help out with the assembly. Seestrah made the dough according to The Woks of Life’s recipe and used my pasta roller to make thin sheets for the dumpling wrappers.

Remember when I said laborious? It definitely was!

Hand cranking out the sheets so that they were paper thin and then cutting them into perfect circles with a biscuit cutter. Nini then meticulously filled and folded the dumplings to ensure they were all sealed up tightly so that none of the soup would run out during the steaming process. It took about 3 hours for us to make the wrappers and fill them all. Granted, it was our very first time but I will never, NEVER take it for granted next time I have Xiao Long Bao. Those folks can make them in lighting speed!

The XLB had good flavor and paired well with the black vinegar sauce–plus they were fun to eat! If we do ever make them again (and let’s be honest, it’ll be a very LONG time in the future), I’d like to play around with the dough. It was pretty good but I think it could be even thinner, especially on the top where it all purses together so that it’s less dense and chewy.

But heck–for our first time, it was awesome!

Nov 2015 Fam DinFor the main dish, we chose Tonkotsu Ramen where we made everything but the menma and kamboko from scratch.  And if you’re keeping tally, that means the Tonkotsu Broth, Chasu, Ajitsuke Tamago, Mayu and Ramen Noodles—ALL HOMEMADE!

By chance do you recall when I said we wanted a low-fuss Family Dinner?

We’re insane.

A few days prior to Fam Din, Seestrah N started on the Tonkotsu broth because it needs hours upon hours of simmering.  She went with Marc’s route from No Recipe and pretty much followed it to the T.

On the day of Fam Din, she made the Chasu –braised pork belly from Nami at Just One Cookbook. She also threw in an extra few pieces of pork shoulder for some added protein. And let me tell you….that chasu was beautiful, unctuous, pork heaven.

Nov 2015 Fam Din

The night before Fam Din, I prepped Nami’s Ajitsuke Tamago (shoyu eggs) since it’s best to allow them to marinate overnight. They were really easy to make and would be great just atop some steamed rice.

Nov 2015 Fam Din

In addition to the Chasu and Ajitsuke Tamago, we topped our ramen bowls with:

  • Toasted Nori (seaweed) Strips
  • Menma (marinated bamboo shoots)
  • Kamboko (fish cake)
  • Kikurage (fresh wood ear mushrooms)
  • Scallions

I also made Mayu which is a black garlic oil that was drizzled on top of our bowls of ramen.

Nov 2015 Fam Din

Now let’s talk a bit about my adventure with the homemade ramen noodles.

I spend a lot and I mean A LOT of time in the kitchen. As such, I’m pretty comfortable with baking breads, working with yeast dough and making pastas. I don’t have the pasta attachment for my KitchenAid but I’ve gotten by pretty well with my hand crank pasta roller over the years. So when I was nominated (was this because I’m the youngest!?) to make the noodles, I just went with it.

I did tons and tons of research and went with Marc’s ramen noodles as well. He was detailed in account and his pictures really captured the process. If you decide to give this recipe a try, note that he was not lying that this dough is extremely dry. You’ll likely want to keep adding water but just go with it and press it all together until it forms a ball. Trust me, it eventually does.

But here’s where I start to kick myself for attempting this method without an electric pasta machine/KitchenAid attachment. Before allowing the dough to rest for several hours, you have to run it through your pasta roller a few times so that it forms smooth rectangular sheets. Sounds easy right? Well I’m sure it would have been had I not used a hand crank roller with a dry dough. It was crumbling everywhere!

I was sweating bullets trying to shove the crumbling dough into the roller….Add the fact that I tripled the recipe and now you’ll have an idea why my biceps were on fire!

Nov 2015 Fam Din

When it came time to cut them into noodles, a piece of me cried inside knowing that my arms were going to get another work out since I would need to pass the dough through the roller several more times. Another wrench was thrown into the situation when the attachment blade that cuts the noodles got stuck. I ended up hand-cutting the noodles which wasn’t ideal since I couldn’t get it as thin as I had wanted to—but it got the job done.

Moral of the story? If you’re not a pro, use a KitchenAid pasta attachment or similar thing-a-ma-bob if you make fresh ramen noodles.

Nov 2015 Fam Din

But once assembled, we were all pretty darn proud of ourselves.

It tasted LEGIT! Like, TOO-LEGIT-TO-QUIT!

Every component had a role and although laborious, had a distinct purpose to the ramen.

Nov 2015 Fam DinAnd just like the Xiao Long Bao, I will never, never underestimate or take for granted the folks who make my ramen.

Heck–they’re freaking amazing in my book.

Nov 2015 Fam Din

After polishing off our noodles and a bit of kitchen clean up, we actually took off for a little more shopping. Why? Who knows….we were delirious.

But when we came home, we tucked right into dessert.

I had made a simple Matcha Mousse-Chocolate Tart. The base was made out of crushed Oreo Cookies and filled with a fluffy matcha mousse. We’re green tea monsters, so a light and matcha-filled dessert suited us just fine.

Nov 2015 Fam DinWas dinner easy and low maintenance?

HECK NO!

Did I perhaps lose a few months off my life from the stress?

WOULDN’T DOUBT IT!

Did my sis say she needed therapy because of the XLB?

YOU BET!

But were we happy with how things turned out over all?

ABSOLUTELY!

It was a true and deep Labor of Love.

And the cherry on top?

My Trojans whooped the Bruins that day and brought back home the Victory Bell!! Aren’t my kiddos adorable in their gear???? ❤

Total Proud Auntie.

Nov 2015 Fam Din

Oh–in case you’re wondering, we went to Target and World Market after dinner/before dessert.

What did I pick up?

A few more additions to my ever growing Nutcracker collection. Priorities people, priorities.

Nov 2015 Fam Din

This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Pomegranate-Raspberry Sake-tinis
Appetizers: Pork & Shrimp Xiao Long Bao {Soup Dumplings}
Entrees: Tonkotsu Ramen with Chasu, Shoyu Egg, Menma, Kamaboko, Kikurage
Dessert: Matcha Mousse and Chocolate Tart

Pastas/Noodles · Pork · Seafood

Sui Gao Noodle Soup – Happy Birthday Dad!

Dad's Birthday

Our family is filled with lots of May babies—-Mom, cousie, sis-in-law, yours truly….and today is DAD’S BIRTHDAY!!!

Dad's Birthday

Dad’s family is originally from the Đà Nẵng and Huế area of Việt Nam—which in my opinion, has DEE BEST food in the country!

The son of a mason, Dad entered the Vietnamese navy and became quite the head honcho. And after our family came to the states, he enrolled at the University of Minnesota (GO GOPHERS!) and became an engineer.

Dad's Birthday

Anyone know what a layout engineer oversees?

Yeah… neither do I. 🙂 I’ve asked Dad to explain it to me a billion of times over the years but my non-science, non-mathematical mind can’t process stuff like that.

But he was awesome at it—and did I mention that he draws the best cartoons/pictures for his grand kids?

Dad's Birthday

There were definitely a lot of perks being the youngest of five kids–particularly since by the time I started junior high, my seester closest in age to me was already in college. Yes, Dad and Mom were still strict with my upbringing but quite honestly, by the time they got to me, they definitely loosened the reigns. Not to mention all of the extra treats I got since the older kids were, well…. older. 🙂

Weekend breakfasts at McDonald’s (to this day, one of my favorite guilty pleasures), excursions for sweet potato-shrimp fritters in Little Saigon……

Dad's Birthday

And one of my childhood favorites–excursions to Sam Woo Restaurant (三和), which now is a popular, thriving restaurant chain.

Sui Gao

Sam Woo is known for their Hong Kong and Cantonese style cuisine. But despite their endless menus (both from their Sam Woo BBQ Restaurant and Sam Woo Seafood Restaurant), I’ve always gravitated towards their roasted suckling pig and dumpling noodle bowls.

Sui Gao

The luscious roasted pork is lightly seasoned with five spice and topped with it’s beautifully crisped pork skin. Seester calls it “meat candy” and I’m 100% on board with that.

Sui Gao

As for their noodle bowls, I mostly see folks ordering their standard wonton noodle soup or duck noodle soups. Both are very good, but really….it’s all about their Sui Gao Noodle Soup. Often also seen as “shui kao”, “sui gow”, “sui kow” or “sui gaw”.

Sui Gao

So what’s the difference between “wontons” and  “sui gao”?

There are a ton of different explanations to this but when I asked one of the times I was at Sam Woo, they told me that sui gao, or water dumplings” should be much larger in size than standard wontons.

Sui Gao

Second, I was told that along with minced shrimp, there must be “fat” included in the filling. After a little more digging, I realized that he meant lard or chopped pork fat—both can be found in the butcher section of almost any Asian grocery store.

As for me, I opt to skip on the lard and use a fattier ground pork. I find that it still provides just enough moisture and flavor as the lard.

Sui Gao

Lastly, they told me that sui gao should have minced water chestnuts for crunch and mushrooms for richer flavor.

Are these the only differences? Well, based on my Sam Woo intel, those are the major differences. But whatever it is…they are freaking delicious.

Sui Gao

So to celebrate Dad’s Birthday, I wanted to share with you all my version of Sui Gao Noodle Soup. It’s hearty yet somehow light at the same time…and really, at the end of the day, it’s like having a comforting hug in a bowl.

Sure, it does take a few steps to make but you can definitely make large batches of the sui gao and freeze them for a rainy day. But best of all, while I was folding the dumplings, I couldn’t help but reminisce on all of the wonderful times Dad would take Mom and I for a large bowl of sui gao with roasted pork on the side.

Dad's Birthday

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!!!!!  Heo Yeahhh! ❤

______________________________________
Sui Gao Noodle Soup
Makes 6 bowls with additional dumplings

Ingredients:

Sui Gow Dumplings (makes approximately 40-45 dumplings):
½ pound shrimp, shelled and devined
½ pound ground pork
½ heaping cup finely chopped shiitake mushrooms
4-5 water chestnuts, rinsed and minced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1½ tablespoon finely minced garlic
2 scallions, chopped
2 tablespoons finely minced cilantro
1 teaspoon rice flour or cornstarch
1 tablespoon mirin
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ tablespoon sesame oil
1 package sui gao dumpling wrappers (round dumpling wrappers)
cornstarch

Other:
2 quarts shrimp stock
1 quart chicken stock
2 inch knob fresh ginger
½ small white onion
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
12 ounces fresh Chinese egg noodles
1 small bunch bok chok, trimmed and washed
4 ounces beech mushrooms or oyster mushrooms
chili oil
sesame oil
1 scallion, chopped

Prepare the sui gao. On a cutting board, chop and mince the shrimp until it becomes a paste. Transfer to a large bowl and add the remaining items (except the wrappers and cornstarch) for the sui gao filling. Mix all the ingredients until thoroughly combined. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Prepare the broth. In a large stock pot, add the shrimp and chicken stock. Add in the ginger, onion, peppercorns, soy sauce and fish sauce. Bring the liquids to a boil and lower to a simmer. Allow the broth to simmer for 20 minutes. Taste and add more soy sauce as needed. Keep warm.

While the broth simmers, prepare the sui gao. Lay one sui gao wrapper on a flat surface. Dip your finger in water and moisten the edge of the wrapper. Place about 1 tablespoon of the filling in the center. Pick up the sui gao and fold it in half. Firmly seal the edges by pinching and pressing the edges together—try and remove as much excess air as possible. Place the filled sui gao on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornstarch or lined with parchment paper to avoid them sticking to the pan. Repeat until all of the filling has been used.

Bring another large pot of water to a boil. Boil the egg noodles according to the package until al dente. Remove the noodles from the pot (saving the boiling water) and drain in a colander. Divide the noodles amongst six bowls.

Using the same pot of boiling water, add 7-8 sui gao dumplings. Once the water comes back to a boil, lower the heat to medium. Boil the sui gao for about 7-8 minutes until they float on the surface of the water, stirring every minute or so. Transfer to a platter and cover to keep warm. Repeat until all the sui gao have been cooked.

To serve, bring the broth to a rolling boil. Drop in the bok choy and mushrooms into the stock. Allow the vegetables to cook for 45-60 seconds and then divide them amongst the six bowls. Top each bowl with 3-4 sui gao dumplings and ladle the hot broth into each of the bowls. Top each bowl with a drizzle of chili oil, sesame oil and scallions. Serve immediately.

*If you would like to freeze the sui gao, 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 boiling the frozen dumplings.*

Appetizers/Small Plates

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!!

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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 froze, 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.*

Appetizers/Small Plates · Pork · Seafood · Sunday Family Dinner

Pork & Shrimp Gyoza and Our Kid Chefs

Pork and Shrimp Gyoza

One of the neatest things about our family dinners is seeing how accomplished my neices have become in the kitchen. We got them involved quite young with baking, creating their own pizzas, and so forth—and I think that it’s really helped them become more at ease with cooking.

Fast forward to today where Nina (14 years old) and Nini (13 years old) have developed their own specialities in the kitchen. Nina can whip up a wonderful dressing and a to die for chocolate cake. Nini is a whiz at shucking oysters, cupcake decorating, and quite recently has become a dumpling-making pro.

Nini and Nina

With the endless things that had to be done at our last family dinner, I needed some help finishing the Gyozas. I showed Nini only once how to fold a Gyoza and the next thing I knew it, she had completed an entire tray of dumplings for me–and they were perfect!

Gyozas are the Japanese version of delish panfried dumplings. They can be filled with a variety of proteins and are wrapped with thin dumpling skins made from flour, salt, and boiling water. Here’s how I make them:

Start off by creating the filling. I like to do a Vietnamese-Japanese fusion and mix ground pork, roughly chopped shrimp, shiitake mushrooms, fish sauce, soy and a variety of other aromatics and spices. The shrimp adds a slight sweetness and great texture. Once the filling has been thoroughly mixed, it’s time to assemble the gyozas.

Pork and Shrimp Gyoza

Place one gyoza wrapper on a flat surface. Dip your finger in water and moisten the edge of the wrapper. Place 1 heaping teaspoon of the filling in the center. Be careful to not over stuff your dumplings or else the filling will burst from the seams.

Pork and Shrimp Gyoza

Pick up the gyoza and fold it in half.

Um…I really should have gotten a manicure before I took these pics.

Pork and Shrimp Gyoza

Start pleating the top layer of the gyoza wrapper. After each pleat, fold, and firmly press the edges together, ensuring that that the gyoza is well sealed.

Pork and Shrimp Gyoza

Place the gyoza on a baking sheet that has been sprinkled with either flour or cornstarch to prevent them from sticking. Cover the sheet with a dish towel while you finish making the rest of the gyozas.

Pork and Shrimp Gyoza

After the gyozas have been pan fried, serve them up with a soy-vinegar sauce or my preferred sauce– ponzu.

Pork and Shrimp Gyoza

These gyozas have a wonderful flavor and all of your loved ones will gobble them up. And if given the chance, get the kids involved and exposed to the cooking process. They’ll have a lot of fun and take pride that they are eating what they helped to make.

I wouldn’t be surprised if, like our aunties, we can retire from cooking duty soon so that the kiddos can take over. Now if we could only get them as excited to do the dishes.

One step at a time. 🙂

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Pork and Shrimp Gyozas
Makes approximately 40 dumplings

Ingredients:

¼ pound shrimp, shelled and devined
½ pound ground pork
1 heaping cup finely chopped cabbage
1 heaping cup finely chopped shiitake mushrooms
½ cup finely diced scallions
¼ cup diced shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ tablespoon finely grated ginger
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1½ tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon sake
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil, additional (for frying)
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 package gyoza wrappers (50 count)
vegetable oil (for frying)
water (for frying)
ponzu sauce, or your choice of dipping sauces
chives

Chop the shrimp into small pieces and add them to a large bowl. Add in the pork, cabbage, mushrooms, scallions, shallots, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, fish sauce, sake, sesame oil, red pepper flakes and black pepper. Using your cleans hands, mix the filling until thoroughly combined.

To make the gyozas, lay one gyoza 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. Pick up the gyoza and fold it in half. Pleat – fold – and press the edges together, ensuring that you seal the gyoza tightly. Place the gyoza on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornstarch or lined with parchment paper to avoid them sticking to the pan. Repeat until all of the filling has been used.

Heat a large frying pan to medium heat with vegetable oil. Place a layer of the gyozas in the pan. Fry the gyozas for 1-2 minutes until the bottoms are golden. Add about 3-4 tablespoons of water and immediately place the lid on the pan. Lower the heat to medium-low and allow the gyozas to steam until almost all of the water has evaporated.

Remove the lid, turn the heat back up to medium and lightly drizzle sesame oil around the inner edge of the pan. Continue cooking until remaining water has evaporated. Plate and garnish with chives or scallions. Serve immediately with ponzu sauce.

Appetizers/Small Plates · Seafood

Ringing in Tết with Crispy Crab & Avocado Wontons

Crispy Crab & Avocado Wontons


Chúc Mừng Năm Mới!!

That’s right, dear friends! It’s Tết – the Lunar New Year!

I have to admit, I just barely finished scrubbing down my home yesterday. As I’ve shared before, one of the rituals leading up to Tết involves some serious housekeeping. And heck–I do whatever I can to ensure that my loved ones and I will have a lucky and prosperous new year. No bad ju-ju here!

Crispy Crab & Avocado Wontons

My clan won’t be gathering until next week but my mouth is already watering just thinking about all of the delicious traditional eats that are in my near future. Rice cakes, roasted pig, sticky rice…..yummers.

Since I’ll be getting my fill of all of the traditional Tết fixins’ next week, I thought I would whip up some quick, yet satisfying bites to pay homage to the Lunar New Year. These Crispy Crab & Avocado Wontons fit that bill! I figure that since dumplings are traditionally served during Chinese New Year to symbolize money, the same may go for these lovely wontons. After all, they are gold and look like little purses 🙂

The fried wontons are filled with lump crab and pairs beautifully with the creaminess from the avocados. The sriracha adds a slight kick and when dipped into the tamarind chili sauce–perfection!

Crispy Crab & Avocado Wontons

And with that dear friends, please allow me to wish you a very Happy, Healthy, Meaningful, Joyful, and Adventurous Year of the Snake!

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Crispy Crab & Avocado Wontons
Serves 4

Ingredients:

Wontons:
6 ounces cooked lump crab meat
½ tablespoon sriracha hot sauce
½ cup diced avocados
1 tablespoon minced chives
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
kosher salt and pepper to taste
12 wonton skins
vegetable oil for frying

Tamarind Chili Sauce:

3 tablespoons tamarind juice concentrate
1½ tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon warm water
½ tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon palm sugar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 red chili, minced finely

In a bowl, gently combine the crab, sriracha, avocados, chives and limejuice. Season with salt and pepper.

Take one wonton skin and brush the edge of each side with water. Place about 1 heaping tablespoon of the mixture in the center of the skin. Fold the ends of the wrapper together, pinching to seal. Fold the other ends together to make a little parcel. Use your fingers and pinch together all the seams to thoroughly seal. Repeat with the remaining wonton skins.

Heat the oil in a heavy bottom pot to 375 degrees F.

While the oil comes to temperature, prepare the Tamarind Chili Sauce. In a bowl, whisk together all the items and refrigerate for 10 minutes. Sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Once the oil is ready, fry the wontons in batches for about 2 minutes until golden brown. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Repeat until all wontons have been fried and serve with immediately with the Tamarind Chili Sauce.