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Chinese Supper Club

September 16, 2010

And Global Cuisine month continues! Ashley treated us to a fabulous Indian dinner a la Jamie Oliver– a chicken korma curry, lemon and cinnamon rice and naan bread. The week before, Steph made a Greek feast with lamb and tzatzikii pitas and a Greek salad. The week before that I used my Chinatown bounty to make three Chinese dishes. The majority of my recipes I found on the now extinct gourmet magazine website- while the magazine is no longer published, their website continues to offer past recipes and past articles, all amazing. To start the evening off, I made pork and prawn dumplings, then for our main course, we had pork spare ribs in a black vinegar barbecue sauce and udon noodles with vegetables. It was a well-rounded meal, allowing us to taste a few things we don’t usually order when we get Chinese take out.  Oh yeah, and dumplings….we love dumplings.

Pork and Prawn Dumplings
Recipe from Gourmet

These were most definitely the star of the meal. While they took the most work and the most prep, I will be making them again. The recipe makes quite a few, so I would recommend freezing some. I made the dumplings the night before- I made the filling, put them together and then stored them in the refrigerator on a floured cookie sheet. I threw some damp paper towels on top to keep them from drying out and wrapped the whole thing in saran wrap. This worked pretty well.

For dumplings
1 package of dumpling wrappers (they are in the refrigerator section at the Chinese supper market, but I have seen them in the produce section at regular grocery stores. They are white and round)
3 fresh or 4 rinsed canned water chestnuts (3 oz) (I didn’t use these at all)
1/2 pound shrimp in shell, peeled, deveined, and coarsely chopped (1 cup)
1/2 pound ground fatty pork (from shoulder)
3/4 cup chopped scallions (from 1 bunch)
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil

For dipping sauce
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon Asian chili oil, or even better, sriracha
Some chopped chives

De-vain and cut up your shrimp. I cut these up pretty small because I wanted them to blend in with pork. Add everything for the filling into the bowl and mix until everything is just mixed, you don’t want to over work it. I set up a “dumpling station”- I got a bowl with a little bit of water ready, got a cookie sheet ready with a bit of flour and situated the filling bowl in front of me and the dumpling wrappers on my cutting board. Using a spoon, put a round spoon full of the mix in the center of the wrapper, wet your fingertips and smooth water around the perimeter of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half and be sure the filling stays snuggly in the middle of the wrapper. Then, using your thumb, pointer finger and middle finger, carefully pleat the edges. You want to make sure none of the filling squeezes out and that your pleats are nice and tight so none comes out when they are cooked.

If you made these the night before, wrap them as I said before- you don’t want them to dry out, but also don’t make your paper towels to wet so they get soggy.

The next day when you are ready to cook them, heat in a large skillet with sides a t tablespoon or so of your peanut/veg oil until very hot. Then drop in your dumplings. Don’t crowd them in, but you can fit quite a few. Five your dumplings a few minutes to brown on the bottom, and then add 1/2 cup of water and cover. Let steam for 6 minutes or so. After the water has evaporated, add a liiiitle but more oil back in the pan and give the dumplings a chance to crisp up on the bottom. Remove from the pan and eat with the dipping sauce above.

Pork Spare Ribs with Black Vinegar Sauce
recipe from Gourmet

2 pounds pork spareribs, cut into individual ribs
1/4 cup cornstarch
About 12 cups peanut or vegetable oil for frying, divided
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons very thin matchsticks of peeled ginger
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons Chinese Shaoxing wine or medium-dry Sherry
1/3 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth (I ended up using a lot more than this, so keep it handy while cooking)
1/3 cup Chinese black vinegar
1/3 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce

Blanch your spare ribs in boiling water for about four minutes, remove and place on plates lines with a paper towel. While you are waiting for the water to boil and your ribs to blanche, begin heating a large pot with the vegetable oil (so, I didn’t have enough vegetable oil, but I did have ton of corn oil leftover from my fish tacos…a couple of gallons, so I used that). Once blanched, and still waiting for your oil to come to temperature (400), whisk together a little salt and the cornstarch. Coat the ribs. Once the oil is ready, fry your ribs in batches for about 5 minutes a batches. Be sure to keep an eye on the temperature, it will have to come back up to 400 after each batch. Remove and place again on plates lined with paper towels.

Once the ribs have been fried, heat a large Dutch oven with 2 tablespoons of oil (peanut or veg). Once the oil is almost smoking, sauté your garlic, shallot and ginger. This is very aromatic and will fill your apartment with a spicy/sweet/garlicky aroma. Once these have softened, about two minutes, add the brown sugar and stir till it dissolves. Add the wine and let it boil, about once minute. Then add the remaining ingredients and the ribs, stirring everything together.

Cover your pot and let cook for an hour to an hour and a half. Keep the temperature low as you don’t want the sauce to burn. Check and stir occasionally. My sauces thickened pretty quickly, so I added a few cups of chicken stock throughout the hour. I also added a little bit of sriracha for some heat.

Stir Fried Udon Noodles and vegetables
Adapted from a few different recipes, but mostly from the New York Times

1 pound of Udon noodles
3 tablespoons peanut oil, or as needed
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon dry sherry or use your wine from the spare ribs
1/2 cup julienne-cut bamboo shoots
1/2 cup fresh bean sprouts
1/2 cup julienne-cut celery
1 cup julienne-cut bok choy
1/4 cup thin-sliced peeled water chestnuts, preferably fresh
8 to 10 dried Chinese black mushrooms, soaked in cold water 15
minutes, then stemmed and cut into julienne
1 cup chicken stock
3 tablespoons dark soy sauce or oyster sauce
6 to 8 snow peas, cut diagonally into pieces
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons cold water
2 scallions, minced
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup fresh cilantro

Boil your noodles, just for a few minutes, they cook fast and will cook more in the stir-fry, drain. Heat peanut oil in a wok or skillet until almost smoking, drop your noodles in and give them a few minutes to kind of toast. I did this in batches and then moved them to a large bowl. Heat a little bit more oil in the same pan and add garlic and ginger and stir-fry 5 seconds. The add the wine ,bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, celery, bok choy, water chestnuts and black mushrooms and stir-fry 10 seconds. Add stock and soy sauce, cover and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Uncover and stir-fry 30 seconds. Add snow peas, sugar and pepper and thicken sauce as desired

with cornstarch solution. Add the reserved noodles and remove from heat. Add scallions, a little sesame oil and garnish with the cilantro.

***

A few notes. When I prepared these dishes for supper club, I started with the spare ribs first. While they were boiling or frying, I worked on prepping all of the vegetables for the udon noodles. Then once the ribs were all set and cooking away, I pan-fried/steamed my dumplings and served them. When I knew the ribs were just about done, I then made the udon noodles. These come together pretty quick if you have all of the vegetables ready.

If you freeze some of your dumplings, do not thaw them, cook them the same way but give them a little bit more time at each step.

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