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.

 

 

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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

Vegetables/Vegetarian · Vietnamese

Đậu Hũ Sốt Cà Chua (Vietnamese Style Tofu with Tomato Sauce)

Tofu with Tomato Sauce

What is your Comfort Food?

Mac ‘n Cheese? Chicken Noodle Soup? PB and J sammies?

No matter what it is—one thing holds true for everyone. Comfort Food does exactly what it’s named for….it brings us comfort—and perhaps transports us back to a time of happiness, safety and love.

And for me, that is what Vietnamese food is.

Tofu with Tomato Sauce

It’s about the “everyday” dishes my family would sit down to at dinner time. A plethora of dishes to be eaten with jasmine rice….fried fish, stuffed squid, various stir-fry veggies, soups, and stinky stuff that just tastes so damn good. And wouldn’t you know it? When I was young, I would complain all the time about it to Mom and say “cơm (rice) again?!” Because at that time, I wanted to eat what all my friends were eating…spaghetti, pizza, burgers, etc. But Mom would always say, “Just wait—one day, you’ll miss this”. And darnit! She was right! Moms…..how do they just know?!

This simple tofu dish is something we would eat quite often. It’s quick and tasty—balancing salty and sweet together. I cheat and buy already fried tofu squares at my local Asian markets which makes this dish SUPER quick and easy. But if you don’t have that available, cube up firm tofu and use paper towels to dry them off. Fry them in oil until golden brown and then throw them into the sauce. Easy Peasy!

So tell me, Friends….what’s your go-to Comfort Foods?

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Đậu Hũ Sốt Cà Chua (Vietnamese Style Tofu with Tomato Sauce)

Ingredients:

4 Cups Fried Tofu
1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, minced
1/4 Cup Shallots, diced
4 Roma Tomatoes, seeded and roughly diced
1 Red Jalapeno, thinly sliced
2 Scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 Cup Ketchup
1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
Black Pepper
Garnish with additional scallions and cilantro

In a large skillet or wok, heat oil over medium heat and cook garlic and shallots for about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, scallions, jalapeno and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until softened. Stir in ketchup and fish sauce. Lower the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Toss in fried tofu and coat evenly. Season with black pepper and garnish with additional scallions and fresh cilantro. Serve with steamed rice and Enjoy!

Pastas/Noodles · Seafood

Shrimp and Tofu Pad Thai

Shrimp and Tofu Pad Thai

Okay. Here’s my confession.

The way I feel about Pad Thai is how I imagine “non-Vietnamese folks” feel about phở. It’s kind of the gateway dish to the culture’s cuisine but it’s so flippin’ good!

Shrimp and Tofu Pad Thai


Pad Thai has a whole range of textures and flavors all in one plate…what’s not to love?

So it was high time that I started to make it on my own. After grabbing a few key essentials, I turned to Alice over at Sweet Savory Life to fix up some seriously authentic and delicious Pad Thai.

Shrimp and Tofu Pad Thai

By far, this is the best recipe I have tried yet. The sauce is totally clutch and is what makes this version a keeper! I also suggest to not substitute cane sugar for palm sugar as it will be way too sweet.

As for the tamarind, I opted for the concentrate like Alice but my sis shared that she used tamarind pulp when she took a Thai cooking classes.

Shrimp and Tofu Pad Thai

And once you have the sauce done, the rest goes by super quick and easy. I owe you big time Alice—this recipe is definitely staying in heavy rotation! 🙂

With that dear Friends, I hope you have a fabulous Mother’s Day Weekend!

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Shrimp and Tofu Pad Thai
From The Sweet Savory Life

Ingredients:

1/3 cup fish sauce
1/2 cup palm sugar
1/2 cup tamarind juice concentrate
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 ounces dried rice stick noodles
6 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1 ½ cups thinly sliced shrimp and fried tofu
1 egg
1 cup carrots, match sticks
1 cup green onion cut diagonal in ½ inch segments
1 cup mung bean sprouts
1 cup cilantro
1 cup toasted peanuts chopped
Lime wedge

  1. To make pad thai sauce, heat a small pan on medium low and add fish sauce, palm sugar, tamarind concentrate, and garlic. Cook sauce until palm sugar has completely dissolve. At this point, you will want to taste the sauce and tweek the sweetness or hotness (be careful, the sauce will be hot). To make it more spicy add a little Thai chili powder (I used Thai chiles). Remove from heat and allow to cool 10 minutes before storing it in a jar or plastic container.
  2. Boil noodles for 4-5 minutes and drain immediately rinsing with cold water for a few seconds. Noodles should be slightly firmer than Al dente. But don’t worry, they will continue to soften and cook later when stir frying. Using kitchen shears, cut the noodle clump in half. This will make it easier to fry and eat.
  3. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a wok or frying pan on high and cook raw shrimp with tofu for 3-4 minutes. Remove tofu/seafood into a small bowl. Next, heat the remaining oil and then add garlic and red onions to the hot pan and stir fry for 1 minute stirring the garlic mixture so it will not burn. Add noodles and stir for 1 minute. Add 3-4 tablespoons Pad Thai sauce continually stirring noodle mixture until well coated with sauce. Add cooked meat/tofu/seafood back and fry for 2-3 minutes. Move the noodle and meat mixture to one side of the pan and crack an egg on the other side. Scramble the egg with a wooden spoon and cook for 30 seconds. Add carrots, green onions, and sprouts and cook for one more minute frying everything together. Test the firmness of the noodle. If the noodle is too firm, fry for an additional minute. If your noodles need more flavor, add another tablespoon of sauce and fry another half minute.
  4. Remove from heat and serve. Garnish with remaining raw carrot match sticks, spouts, cilantro, toasted peanuts, and a wedge of lime. Enjoy!
Desserts/Pastries · Vietnamese

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 🙂

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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!**