February 24, 2007

Bundles of Love

Sometimes the pressure just gets to me.

Most of the time, I relish in the responsibility and creativity of deciding what we eat on a daily basis. Planning 2-3 meals in advance usually helps keep things just organized enough to take some of the stress off, but not so much that it zaps any last minute creativity from the equation. Often in the 3 meal scheme, just one of them will be something totally new. Sometimes, though, I will have greatly overestimated my capacity for new recipes. Just such a scenario played out a few weeks ago when I just couldn’t bring myself to cook. It was too much. I was tired and stressed. Mix in a little guilt and you’ve got the makings of one fantastic meltdown. The potential loss of a good meal really gets me down.

I forget what I had planned to cook now. It doesn’t even matter. All I know is there was crying and consoling and an agreement that Paul would make dinner. And not in that because-I-have-to way either. In an excited and eager way, like he was almost waiting for the floodgates to open so he could actually cook something without me glaring over his shoulder. He promised me Potstickers, people. While I could only nod through the tears, I retired to the couch with a drink in hand, giddy just thinking about them. He even let me “help” by allowing me to read the ingredient list to him and walk him through it. It was the perfect combination of being the boss and not having to do any of the work. It was a rare and beautiful gift and that’s why he’s a keeper, ladies.

Paul makes the absolute best Potstickers. I find this incredibly impressive, partly because I suck so much at making them. I can never wrap them in a way that gets all of the air pockets out, and mine are always ugly looking. Paul has just the right technique. Despite hardly ever cooking, he has certain recipes that he can pull out and completely blow you away. (Other times he’ll try to make an omelet without greasing the pan, but, you know…a mistake you make only once.) The Potstickers were heavenly and they are a fun appetizer-for-dinner meal that feels really special. We’re addicted to these and I bet you will be, too. And a brief note to non-cooking spouses: never underestimate the breakdown.

These used to be Ku’s pork dumplings, but now they are Paul’s Potstickers.

Potstickers (adapted from American's Test Kitchen)

1 lb ground pork
2 cups napa cabbage, minced finely

4 green onions, sliced
4 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger, optional
2 cloves garlic, minced
fresh black pepper

dipping sauce:

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1-2 Tbsp water, to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp sesame oil
hot stuff: either 1/8 tsp chili paste, a dash of hot sauce, or minced red chilies, to taste

Combine all the ingredients for the filling in the bowl. Mix until thoroughly combined. In a separate bowl, combine all the dipping sauce ingredients and set aside. I like to use both a bit of chili paste and a dash of Tabasco for balanced heat.

Fill a small bowl with water. This will be the glue to seal the dumplings. Take one dumpling wrapper, dip one finger into the water and wet the edges of the wrapper completely. Place a tablespoon of pork filling into the middle of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper over the filling in a half moon shape, pressing all of the air out from the middle of the dumpling to the edges. Pleat the edges of the dough firmly to seal it completely. Repeat for each dumpling. You should fill about 30 dumplings with this amount of filling, serving about 3 people as a main course, or 6 as an appetizer.

To make potstickers:
1. Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to a nonstick pan. Place over medium heat and add enough dumplings in the pan to form a single layer, but without the dumplings touching. Cook 3 minutes or until the bottoms have crisped and browned.
2. Pour 1/2 cup of water in the pan, cover it, and let them cook (without peeking!) on low for 10 minutes, or until all the water is gone. Set a timer!
3. The dumplings should be brown and crisp on the bottom, but if not, let them cook a few minutes more to get crisp again.


Rachel said...

YUM! I love having a meal composed entirely of dumplings.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Ah, the glories of guilt!
Now, if I thought a meltdown could get my husband into the kitchen, that would be fantastic. Well, I could but I think all we'd get would be peanut butter and jelly or cold cereal.
The potstickers are beautiful!!

emily said...

they look delicious! i am still partial to my mom's potstickers though. her recipe is similar, although she adds sherry, sugar, cornstarch, and uses white pepper instead of black. also, instead of crisping the bottoms beforehand, you can simply add the oil to the water; when the water evaporates after having steamed the dumplings, the residual oil will fry up the bottoms! easy peasy!

Katie said...

Can I have Paul?
Or just his potstickers?