Appetizers/Small Plates · Seafood

Shrimp and Tofu Dumplings … Functional while Deliciously Cute

May 2019 Fam Din
Dumplings.

Potstickers.

Wontons.

Gyozas.

Mandu.

I love them all. And the Fam sure does too.

Shrimp and Tofu Dumplings
Dumplings have made their appearance at a few of our Family Dinners before and I happily oblige to make them since it gives me an excuse to make lots of extra to stash away in my freezer.

You know, for those dumpling emergencies.

We all have them….right?

Shrimp and Tofu Dumplings
I had been scrolling through Instagram a few weeks before my birthmonth’s Fam Din when I saw a pic of the cutest little dumplings that had shrimp tails sticking straight out of them. ADORABLE! I had never seen anything like them before and knew right then….. I HAD TO MAKE THEM!

Shrimp and Tofu Dumplings
One of my favorite Korean food blogs is Maangchi. She’s hilarious and her recipes are delish. In fact, the Korea Seafood Soft Tofu Stew we make is a slight variation of hers.

I recalled that she had a recipe for Shrimp and Asian Chive Dumplings (or mandu) where she added crumbled tofu and thought I would do the same for my dumplings.

May 2019 Fam Din
Now if you’re someone who says “EEEEWWWW….TOFU!”, let me say two things:

  1. Fresh tofu really has the mildest of flavor—if any! And in fact, they usually just take up the flavor profile of whichever sauce or seasonings it’s served with. As for these dumplings, it’s added solely to provide extra juiciness to the filling.
  2. Don’t Yuck My Yum.

That is all.

May 2019 Fam Din
As for the rest, I kept the filling pretty simple since the majority of the dumpling “pouch” would be filled up by a whole shrimp. So in addition to the crumbled tofu, I just added just some more chopped shrimp, fish sauce and a few aromatics. Easy peasy.

The end results were shimmy-shimmy good! There’s really something so satisfying about biting into a whole shrimp and having the rest of the filling be just so darn juicy.

I was also told that it was some of my family member’s favorite dumplings to date. And they can be a tough crowd!

May 2019 Fam Din
And as for the shrimp tail that proudly sticks out?

It’s not just for decor….

They became rather a handy mechanism to hold on to when picking up the dumpling to dunk into the sauce.

Functional and deliciously cute. Now that’s a killer combo.

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Shrimp and Tofu Dumplings
Makes approximately 40 dumplings

Ingredients:

Dumplings:
8 ounce block of firm tofu
40 butterflied whole shrimp, with tails intact
½ pound of shrimp, peeled and deveined
½ cup chopped scallions
½ tablespoon finely minced garlic
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoons fish sauce sauce (more, if needed)
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 package dumpling wrappers (approximately 50 skins)

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)

Press and drain your tofu by wrapping the block in a few sheets of paper towels and then place it on a large plate. Place another large plate on top of the tofu block and place a heavy object on top to weigh it down (e.g. a large can of veggies, a book, etc.). Allow the tofu to drain for about 15-20 minutes

Place the ½ pound of peeled and deveined shrimp in a food process. Pulse several times until the shrimp is well chopped up but has not yet become a paste. You can also hand chop the shrimp on a large cutting board. Once done, place into a bowl.

Crumble the drained tofu into the bowl of chopped shrimp. Add in the scallions, garlic, Shaoxing wine, sesame oil, cornstarch, fish sauce and black pepper. Mix well to combine. 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 adjust the uncooked filling as needed.

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 one of the butterflied shrimp in the center of the wrapper, cut side down so that the tail lifts up. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of the filling over the shrimp. Pick up the dumpling and fold the skin over the shrimp/filling. Begin pleating and pressing the edges together to seal around the tail. Place the filled dumpling on a baking sheet and continue until all the filling/skins have been used.

To steam: Arrange the dumplings in a steamer (lined with cabbage leaves or parchment paper) and steam for 8-10 minutes. The shrimp tails will become pink and opaque while the dumpling skins will become rather transparent. You can lightly squeeze the dumpling and feel that filling has become rather firm.

To pan-fry: Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons 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 1/3 cup of water and immediately place a tight fitting lid over the skillet. 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. If you need to fry the dumplings in batches, use a paper towel to wipe the frying pan clean before repeating the above process.

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

Once the dumplings are steamed, transfer to a platter and serve immediately with sauce. ENJOY!

*If you would like to freeze the uncooked dumplings, place the baking sheet directly into freezer for 2-3 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 are 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 steaming.

 

 

Sunday Family Dinner

May the Fam Din Be with You!

May 2019 Fam Din

HOLY COW!

It’s been a HOT MINUTE since I’ve last posted and boy–do I have a lot to catch you up on!

Since my last post, we’ve had four family dinners, a TON of kitchen experiments and foodventures, a little bit of travel and now we just bid a “see ya’ later” to my brother and his fam as they embark on a world wide adventure for the next year.

May 2019 Fam Din
So let’s pick up where I left off – our May Family Dinner which covered three birthdays: Dad, L and yours truly!

Yes…May — I know.

May 2019 Fam Din
For an appetizer, I chose to make dumplings because you know how much we love them!

I had been scrolling through Instagram one day and saw a picture of these cute dumplings with whole shrimp in them. I HAD to make my own version of them!

May 2019 Fam Din
So I mixed up an easy filling of chopped shrimp, crumbled fresh tofu (for extra juiciness), scallions, fish sauce, sesame oil, pepper and a bit of cornstarch. I then laid a butterflied shrimp (with tail on) down on a dumpling skin and put a bit of filling on top. A few pinches to seal and voila – Whole Shrimp and Tofu Dumplings.

May 2019 Fam Din
I ended up pan frying them although steaming them would also be delicious and they turned out great! Super plump and succulent.

And not only did the shrimp tails add a little something to the presentation, they became quite functional as a means to pick up the whole dumpling with. Cute and useful!

May 2019 Fam Din
That day also happened to be the series finale of Game of Thrones and if you read this post, you know my Fam LOVES us some GoT!

I had been saving this particular 2014 Game of Thrones Cabernet Sauvignon for some time…and that night seemed like the perfect time to crack it open.

May 2019 Fam Din
And I just so happened to score this Game of Thrones themed Monopoly board from a dear friend — so obvi…. GAME ON!

May 2019 Fam Din

The fur babies were very vested in the Iron Throne.

May 2019 Fam Din
Back to the food….

At the 11th hour, I asked brother to make some oven roasted Crispy Pork Belly.

Because, really….it’s always a good time for pork belly.

May 2019 Fam Din
I had seen this recipe from Kirbie’s Cravings and had wanted to give it a roll for a long time.

May 2019 Fam Din
The process was really easy and the salt crust pulled out all of the moisture to give a SUPER crispy skin.

May 2019 Fam Din
We’ll definitely be making this again.

May 2019 Fam Din
And I can’t wait to play around with the marinade a bit too!

May 2019 Fam Din
All of the Iron Throne excitement, left the fur babies tuckered out…..

May 2019 Fam Din

Grandpa had to give Bella some love….

May 2019 Fam Din

Speaking of Dad, his request for the night was Haemul Sundubu Jigae {Korea Seafood Soft Tofu Stew}. It’s something P first introduced Mom and Dad to YEARS ago when they visited her in SF. And when Mom got into her Korean cooking phase, she started making it, too!

I started mine by making a seafood stock with lots of aromatics and shrimp shells.

May 2019 Fam Din
I then made an intense seafood stock out of dried kelp, dried anchovies, radish and then added the seafood stock to it. Then all of the aromatics were added including LOTS of Korean chili flakes before I threw in the seafood. Nina then helped cut soft tofu into the boiling stew.

May 2019 Fam Din
We then cracked whole eggs into the boiling pots and topped with scallions.

DEE-LISH!

May 2019 Fam Din
I also had another request (HEY, BIRTH MONTH PEOPLE!) – Crab Fried Rice!

I asked T to make this dish and asked her to keep it simple. Just rice, eggs, lots of crab, garlic and fish sauce. It was bomb!

May 2019 Fam Din

Before we knew it, it was dessert time! And you betcha’ N spearheaded THREE desserts!

L had requested Sweet Sticky Rice with Mango.

May 2019 Fam Din
Dad is a chocoholic so the birthday boy got an Icebox Chocolate Cake.

May 2019 Fam Din
As for me, I got a Passionfruit-Mango Cake – loved it!

May 2019 Fam Din

N baked the cake….

Nini decorated it….

and Luna added the extra sparkles!

May 2019 Fam Din
You can see where we get the whole food photography thing from!

May 2019 Fam Din
Needless to say, the May Babies were VERY happy with everything!

May 2019 Fam Din
Do we really have to wait until next year to have our own dinner again????

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This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Various Wines
Appetizers: Pan-fried Whole Shrimp and Tofu Dumplings
Entree: Crispy Pork Belly, Thai Style Crab Fried Rice, Haemul Sundubu Jjigae (Korean Seafood Soft Tofu Stew)
Dessert: Thai Sweet Sticky Rice with Mango, Chocolate Icebox Cake, Passion fruit-Mango Cake

Sunday Family Dinner

Family Dinner Takes a Walk on the Pura Vida Side!

September 2019 Fam Din

T and her clan had an adventurous getaway to Costa Rica where they zip-lined through the jungles, went on night hikes, encountered monkeys and sloths, stayed in tree houses, frolicked on beaches and indulged in wonderful meals. As I was stalking their vacay via IG, I saw that they kept hashtagging their photos with the “Pura Vida” phrase. Although it translates to “pure life”, I’m told that it’s a indicative Costa Rican phrase that can mean anything from “this is living”, “carefree life” and also as salutations.

Needless to say, they were still buzzing with the “pura vida” bug when they came home and convinced us to take a Costa Rican spin with our Family Dinner menu. The rest of us had never been but we were game to give it a spin!

And it all started with Cocktail Hour!

Inspired by a cocktail T had on vacay, she mixed cilantro-cucumber infused vodka with ginger simple syrup, lime juice and ginger beer. It was delish! Really bright and unexpected – something akin to a mix of a Mojito meets Moscow Mule.

September 2019 Fam Din

She couldn’t remember the name of it so I’m just going to call it the Pura Vida Cocktail for now.

Seems appropriate, right?

September 2019 Fam Din

2 BILs and Brother……

Or as I refer to them–the Dudes!

September 2019 Fam Din
Seestrahs

September 2019 Fam Din
And then we looked over and saw Nina like this.

Which meant one thing…we needed to get going on the appetizers or the munchkins would all become hypoglycemic and either pass out or get super grumptastic.

And that, Friends, is NEVER a pretty picture.

September 2019 Fam Din

N took the lead on the first appetizer – her take on Chorizo Empanadas.

September 2019 Fam Din

She’s made variations of empanadas before but what made these different than her previous versions was that the filling also included cubed potatoes and boiled eggs.

September 2019 Fam Din
They were so bomb!

Instead of a masa dough, she used puff pastry so the exterior was so buttery and flaky while the filling was rich and deeply spiced. And of course, we had to have some chimichurri sauce to dunk them in.

September 2019 Fam Din
Actually, I’m pretty much a sucker for savory hand pies from ALL cultures.

Portable, savory deliciousness.

September 2019 Fam Din

Nini and C agree!

September 2019 Fam Din
While in Costa Rica, T said the ceviche dishes were some of her favorite bites. One day, R and Lucas even went deep sea fishing and caught a sailfish, dorado and a yellowfin tuna. They brought their haul back to the hotel restaurant where the kitchen fixed them up a feast that included mahi mahi ceviche.

dorado = mahi mahi

September 2019 Fam Din
With that still fresh on her mind, T decided to whip up a big ol’ bowl of bright Ceviche and served them with Tortilla Chips.

It wasn’t just pretty—it was scrump-diddly-dumptious!

September 2019 Fam Din
Puggle cuddle break!

September 2019 Fam Din
Oh…and we all fight over this egg chair…..it’s the best.

September 2019 Fam Din

LOOK!

Nina is awake!

Told ya she needed food.

September 2019 Fam Din

It was around this time that Brother started prep on his and L’s dish.

I should’ve snapped a pic once he finished mincing the garlic because V is quite meticulous (like Nini!) with his prep and his knife cuts are super consistent.

September 2019 Fam Din
And here’s L rockin’ out with the black bass!

September 2019 Fam Din
V and L went B-I-G for the entree and decided to make a version of pescado frito entero – whole fried fish.

After she seasoned the bass, L put them in a cornmeal-flour dredge……

September 2019 Fam Din
……before gently placing them in a vat of hot oil to deep fry!

You can see why we opted to cook the fish dish outside, right? I’m sure our neighbors just adored us that day.

Then L got to work on the decadent “sauce” to top the fish with — whole shrimp with a SHIZZ TON of garlic, butter and scallions!

She also finished it off with a quick flambe of dark rum but for some reason my dang site is having issues uploading the video I took of it.

September 2019 Fam Din

After the shrimp were sufficiently flambeed, she topped it over the crispy bass.

W-O-W-S-E-R-S!!!

September 2019 Fam Din

Pescado Frito con Relleno de Camarones – Fried Fish with Garlic Shrimp Sauce.

September 2019 Fam Din
To accompany the fish, T made a big dish of Gallo Pinto – Costa Rican Rice and Beans. It was a great way to soak up all the buttery-garlicky goodness from the fish and shrimp, too!

September 2019 Fam Din

Then things got a little crazy.

I’m telling ya, N is living her best life, I mean– pura vida, these days!

September 2019 Fam Din

These cuties just sit back sometimes and watch how silly the adults can get.

September 2019 Fam Din

After the shenanigans settled down and the dishes were cleared, we dug into dessert.

I made Tres Leche a three-types of milk cake. Now, I won’t say that this is an authentic Costa Rican dessert since there are many claims that its origins are from Mexico. But versions of Tres Leche can be found all over Latin America, so I just went with it.

The photo below is terrible but luckily it tasted great – despite my worries while it baked! Seester’s oven needs some TLC and can be erratic at times with its temperature so I was stressing while it was in the oven. But I guess that’s where Tres Leche can be a bit forgiving since you soak the sponge with a sugary-milk mixture until it just can’t take in anymore. I used this recipe and was pleased with the flavor.

By the end of the night, I felt that we successfully caught glimpses of the food vibes that T and her fam experienced during their time in Costa Rica. And I SURE as heck want to go there to experience it for myself too!

PURA VIDA!!

September 2019 Fam Din

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This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Pura Vida Cocktails, Various Wines
Appetizers: Ceviche, Chorizo Empanadas
Entree: Pescado Frito con Relleno de Camarones {Fried Bass with Garlic Shrimp Sauce}
Sides: Gallo Pinto {Costa Rican Rice and Beans}
Dessert:
Tres Leche Cake {3 Milks Cake}

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.*

 

Pork · Seafood

Sichuan Wontons in Chili Oil Sauce – Happy Lunar New Year!!!

Sichuan Wontons with Chili Oil Sauce
Friends, today is the beginning of Tết – the Vietnamese Lunar New Year!

As with every new year, I’ve done all the rituals like scrubbed down the house, prepared an altar of traditional Tết goodies and went to the bank to get crisp “new money” to stuff all the bags of lì xì for the munchkins.

Sichuan Wontons with Chili Oil Sauce

Man…I miss the good ol’ days when I was the one collecting stacks of lì xì. Now, Cô Nam just doles out the red envelopes.

Being a grown up is seriously overrated. But at least there’s still all the good food!

Sichuan Wontons with Chili Oil Sauce
Every year I look forward to eating copious amounts of fried Bánh Tét with Dưa Món. Bánh Tét are steamed sticky rice cakes and are cylindrical in shape. Bánh Chưng are essentially the same but are shaped as squares.

The savory ones are filled with pork belly and mung beans. Although they can be eaten just as is, I prefer it fried so the crust is nice and crispy but the interior is still soft. SOOOOO good! And of course, it’s best eaten with a side of Dưa Món – pickled veggies.

Sichuan Wontons with Chili Oil Sauce
Bánh Tét/Bánh Chưng are not something my family make—well, at least not since I’ve been alive!

It’s REALLY a time consuming process and it’s one of those things that if you’re going to go through the efforts to make a few, you might as well make 100. But that would take you foh-evah!

So like most Vietnamese folks nowadays, we buy ours. But we still like to cook other traditional Tết dishes.

Sichuan Wontons with Chili Oil Sauce
But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to include some dishes in my yearly rituals that we didn’t grow up eating for Tết. And dumplings definitely top that list!

Sure, our Chinese kin definitely prepare and eat a variety of dumplings as a part of their Lunar New Year traditions. They’re eaten for luck because they symbolize wealth and richness as their shape resembles Chinese gold ingots.

But hey–if it can bring luck and taste delicious, why not adopt the practice, right?

Sichuan Wontons with Chili Oil Sauce
I’ve shared a few of my favorite dumpling versions with you before like:

Sichuan Wontons with Chili Oil Sauce
But for this year’s Tết, I thought I would share with you my Sichuan Wontons with Chili Oil Sauce.

They. Are. So. Dang. Tasty.

But what’s the difference between a dumpling and a wonton?

Honestly I’ve found that the answer changes depending on the person you’ve asked. But generally folks tell me that dumplings are often quite plump and are steamed or pan-fried. Wontons are most often boiled and served in soups or a broth. The wrappers (or skins) are also supposed to be really thin and since they aren’t filled as much as the former, it allows the soup/broth/sauce to stick to the excess dough. That way, you can just slurp them up!

Oh…and some say that wontons only use square wrappers and dumplings use a round shape. But really… you can call them whatever you want —because I’ll take ANY version of them.

Sichuan Wontons with Chili Oil Sauce
These Sichuan Wontons are filled with a 1:1 ratio of pork to shrimp. And unlike my other dumplings, I don’t add much filler other than aromatics. No cabbage, no mushrooms—just protein and few other things.

Why?

Because the co-star of this dish truly is the Chili Oil Sauce that it’s pretty much bathed in. The sauce starts off with my homemade Sichuan Chili Oil. Does it have to be homemade? Well…technically no. But it makes SUCH a difference. And not only is my recipe super easy but it lasts a long time in your fridge!

The chili oil is then combined with soy, Chinese black vinegar (there’s really no substitute for it), sugar and a couple of other items. Simple right? That’s because the homemade oil is so aromatic that it needs very little else!

Sichuan Wontons with Chili Oil Sauce
And if you’re REALLY fiery, after you’ve sauced the wontons, you can add a few extra dollops of the Sichuan Chili Oil everything. You can sure bet that I do—but perhaps dial it down a bit if you’re serving little ones.

There are also several different ways to fold wontons as I’ve shown above but I generally just go for the standard “ingot” fold as I’ve described in the recipe.

Sichuan Wontons with Chili Oil Sauce
And with that dear friends, let Bella and I wish you all Chúc Mừng Năm Mới!!! May the Year of the Dog be filled with happiness, good health, prosperity and endless Foodventures!

ps. Bella believes EVERY year is the Year of the Dog.

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Sichuan Wontons in Chili Oil Sauce
Makes approximately 80 wontons

Ingredients:

For the wontons:
4 scallions
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves
1 small shallot
½ cup fresh cilantro
1 pound shrimp, peeled and roughly chopped
1 pound ground pork
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
80-100 square wonton wrappers

For the sauce:
4 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons Chinkiang Black Vinegar
½ tablespoon sugar
4 tablespoons homemade Sichuan Chili Oil (both the oil and flakes)
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
½ teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced scallions

For garnish:
chopped fresh cilantro
chopped scallions
toasted sesame seeds

Place the scallions, ginger, cloves, shallot and cilantro 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 pulse until everything has combined and the shrimp has turned into somewhat of a paste. Add the pork, Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, sugar and pepper. Pulse just until the ingredients have fully combined.

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 assembling the wontons. Place one wonton wrapper down on a flat surface so that it points towards you. Dip the tip of your finger into water and moisten the top two edges of the wrapper. Place about 1 heaping teaspoon of the filling in the center of the wonton wrapper. Fold the bottom corner (the one nearest you) over the filling so that it meets the top point and forms a triangle. Press down to seal the edges of the triangle while pressing out any air that may have been trapped inside. Add a dab of water to the two outer corners of the triangle and fold in so that they meet. Press corners together to firmly seal. Place the wonton on a baking sheet and continue until all the filling/wrappers have been used.

Prepare the sauce by whisking all the ingredients together in a bowl until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the wontons to the pot (no more than a dozen or so at a time) and lower the heat so that it’s at a steady but not rapid boil. Constantly stir so that they do not stick together. Allow the wontons to cook for about 3 minutes or until the wrappers become translucent and the filling has cooked through. Use a large slotted spoon or kitchen spider to remove and drain the wontons. Transfer to a serving dish and spoon the sauce over the wontons. Garnish with scallions, cilantro and sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

Seafood

Decadently Creamy Risotto with Pan Seared Garlic Shrimp and Peas

Shrimp & Peas Risotto
I know, I know.

I already have a Shrimp Risotto recipe posted on the blog. And it’s wonderful, tried and true.

But y’all…it’s not THIS Shrimp Risotto.

Shrimp & Peas Risotto
Because as much as the other one was delicious, I really kicked it up a few notches with this Creamy Risotto with Pan Seared Garlic Shrimp and Peas.

Shrimp & Peas Risotto

Like most situations, I just can’t leave things be.

I’m constantly tweaking recipes. Sometimes out of necessity because I’m missing an ingredient or two and sometimes because I just want to change things up.

Shrimp & Peas Risotto
So what did I do different?

A few things like use shallots and leeks. But the big game changer was the addition of peas and heavy cream.

Shrimp & Peas Risotto
My usual risottos are rich and creamy just by nature of the slow cooking and constant stirring of the rice to release the starches. But this particular day, I wanted things extra decadent and added a few splashes of heavy cream at the end.

Shrimp & Peas Risotto
How did it turn out?

Freaking brilliantly.

Shrimp & Peas Risotto

Velvety perfection.

And the peas added a nice punch of freshness and texture.

Shrimp & Peas Risotto

It makes me happy just looking at it.

But of course, I’m even happier inhaling it. ❤

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Creamy Risotto with Pan Seared Garlic Shrimp and Peas
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic, divided
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, divided
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
sea salt
black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
½ cup chopped shallots
1 cup chopped leeks, white and light green parts
4-5 cups seafood stock
1 cup Aborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
1 cup frozen peas
½ cup heavy cream
⅓ cup parmesan cheese, grated or shredded
additional fresh thyme to garnish

Combine the shrimp, 1 tablespoon garlic, ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, and 1 tablespoon thyme leaves. Season with salt, pepper and place in the refrigerator covered for 30 minutes.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp. Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side until opaque. Remove the shrimp from the skillet. Chop half of the shrimp into large chunks while leaving the other whole. Cover and set aside.

In a heavy bottomed pot, heat remaining olive oil and butter of medium heat. Add the shallots, leeks and cook until tender and translucent.

While the aromatics cook, place the stock in saucepan and bring to a low simmer. Keep the stock simmering on the back of the stove.

Once the shallots and leeks have cooked for 5-6 minutes, add in the remaining garlic, red pepper flakes and thyme. Cook for 1-2 minutes and add the rice and stir until it is well-coated and opaque.  The rice may begin to slightly crackle as it lightly toasts. Pour in the wine and stir until it has nearly evaporated.

Ladle in about 1 cup of the heated stock. Cook and continue stirring the rice until it has nearly absorbed all the liquid. Add the remaining stock, about 1 cup at a time—stirring well in between each addition. Take care to allow the rice to absorb each addition of stock before adding more. You may not need all 5 cups as the risotto should be slightly firm and creamy once done. This process takes approximately 25 minutes.

When the risotto is done, pull it off the heat and stir in the heavy cream, chopped shrimp, peas and Parmesan cheese until fully incorporated. Taste and adjust with additional salt and pepper as needed. Plate each dish with a portion of the risotto topped with the remaining whole shrimp and additional thyme. Serve immediately.

Poultry · Seafood

Thai Inspired Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai

Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai
I must admit that I’ve been incredibly lazy in the kitchen these past few weeks. It’s been really warm and humid (for San Diego standards, that is) and the last thing I want to do is hang out over the hot stove for long periods of time.

And don’t even get me started about my utter disdain for dishes!

Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai
So my “cooking” of late has really consisted of compiling ingredients (salads or sandwiches), charcuterie boards (AMEN!), or quick prep dishes such as stir-frys.

Because…you know…. EVERYTHING STIR-FRY and all.

Total shameless plug.

Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai
But all self-promotion aside, stir-fry dishes are a total legit way to get something scrumptious in your belly with minimal cooking time. The majority of your efforts primarily go towards chopping the ingredients— easy peasy!

Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai
This Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai is a slight variation of my Pork Larb Gai which is a Thai minced pork salad. For the protein I went with a surf and turf approach as I love the flavor combo. For the ground chicken, you can go with breast meat but I prefer the flavor of dark meat. And if you want a really light approach, sub the chicken with ground turkey breast.

Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai

Whichever protein you select, you’ll really love Larb Gai –-especially during the summer months. The dish is light yet fulfilling and is punched up with TONS of flavor from the fresh lime juice, bright herbs and savory sauce. I often have it over steamed rice but when I’m feeling extra lazy or when it’s warm out, I use it as filling for lettuce wraps. Either way, you’ll love it.

Enjoy!

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Thai Inspired Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon warm water
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
3 tablespoons fish sauce, divided
1 teaspoon minced Thai chiles, divided
3 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup minced red onions or shallots
4-5 kaffir lime leaves, sliced into thin strips
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 pound ground chicken
½ pound peeled shrimp, cleaned and deveined
2 scallions, chopped
1 heaping tablespoon ground toasted rice powder*
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly torn
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly torn
1 cup fresh Thai basil leaves, roughly torn

In a small bowl, create the sauce by whisking together the sugar and warm water until dissolved. Add in 2 tablespoons lime juice, 2 tablespoons fish sauce and ½ teaspoon minced chiles (more to taste). Set the sauce aside.

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the minced onions, kaffir lime leaves, garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add ½ teaspoon minced chiles (more to taste), red chili flakes and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Increase the heat to medium-high and add in the ground chicken.

Using a wooden spoon, stir the chicken around the wok/skillet while breaking it apart to a crumbled consistency. Cook the chicken for 3-4 minutes and then add the shrimp Stir-fry for an additional 2 minutes until the shrimp becomes pink and opaque. Stir in the remaining fish sauce and scallions.

Remove the wok/skillet from the heat. Toss in the rice powder, remaining lime juice, sliced red onions, mint leaves, cilantro leaves, and Thai basil. Stir in a few spoonfuls of the sauce to taste. Plate the larb with extra fresh herbs, whole chiles, lime wedges, sliced cucumbers, and lettuce. Serve immediately with either steamed rice or whole lettuce leaves for wraps. The remaining sauce can be served alongside as a dipping sauce.

*If you cannot find pre-ground toasted rice powder, you can easily make your own. Toast uncooked jasmine rice in a skillet over low heat until golden brown. Once cooled, transfer the toasted rice into a spice grinder and grind until you get a fine powder.