Friday, February 09, 2007

Girls Cooking Night: Sushi

The first theme for our girls' cooking night was sushi. I opted to make guo tie (potstickers) as my contribution to complement the sushi.

I made the filling the night before: 1 lb ground beef and chopped mustard greens, mixed with salt, pepper, soy, sesame oil, and egg white. The tricky part of course is that you have to stuff the dumplings with raw filling, so it's hard to gauge if you've seasoned enough. I know I shouldn't but I usually taste a little of the raw filling...

The night of the party, I mixed the dough -- just 3 cups flour to one cup boiling hot water, mixed and kneaded well. The hot water gets the gluten in the flour going, and also allows the dough to cook quicker for fried dumplings. If you're steaming or boiling your dumplings, you can just use cold water. Then you cover the dough with a warm wet towel and let it sit for 45 minutes or so.

The dough should now be nice and springy and not at all sticky. I usually divide the dough into quarters, keeping whatever I'm not working with under the wet towel to stay moist. I form one quarter into a long snake (about 1 inch thick), then cut the snake into around 10 one-inch pieces.

Form each 1-inch piece into a little ball and start rolling, and rolling, and rolling... I ended up with 40 round wrappers.

Now it's time to wrap -- a spoonful of filing in the middle is enough - don't be too greedy. The dough should be pliable enough you can just push together to seal, but if it's starting to dry out, you can also use a little water.

I seal first on the top, then start at the bottom of the sides and crimp as I go up, to make them pretty.

Pour about 2 tablespoons of oil in a non-stick frying pan, and arrange all your dumplings in a pretty pattern.

Then add about 2 cups of water, put the pan on high, cover tightly, and let it go. Keep an ear out for when the pan starts to sizzle. After all the water has boiled off, the oil will crisp the bottoms.

Then the piece de resistance is to turn out all the guo tie onto a plate in one beautiful unbroken array.

While I'd been busy stuffing dumplings, the girls had been busy rolling sushi. They did quite nicely with the help up of some sushi packing and rolling implements.

Rounded out the meal with sorbet, cookies, and mochi for dessert. Mochi is like the T1000 of desserts, you can cut it up all you want, but the pieces will just meld back together. In fact, I think this simple combo of sticky rice flour and sugar is basically what the ancient Chinese used as mortar between the bricks of the Great Wall! All in all a fun and yummy dinner!


1000yregg said...

I thought ladies couldn't roll sushi because of hand temperature issues. (I kid)
Looks like some of the rolls ended up a bit on the rough side though.
It look like just tuna. No yellowtail? no salmon?, no california roll?
Also, where the Uni at? (sorry had to say that - it just sounds funny)
Kudo's to homemade skin for the pot stickers. I'm so lazy, I buy guo tie in frozen bags to eat. I suck.

BrookLEn said...

I'm just amazed at the arrangement of the pot stickers in that pan, did you serve it right from the stove?

fougoo said...

You flip the pan completely upside down onto a plate -- that's how you get the crispy bottom on top!

stacy said...

i must make those dumplings! they look fantastic. can you subsitute ground turkey or pork for the beef?

fougoo said...

Of course! I prefer ground pork, but I was lazy and happened to already have ground beef at home...

You can also substitute the veggie -- can be chopped spinach or shanghai salted cabbage (xue cai), or shepherd's purse. Depends how you like the texture of your filling. If you want softer and smoother, more integrated with the meat, spinach works well. If you prefer a little more bite, the crunchier veggies work better.

You can use frozen veggies, but remember to squeeze all the water out of them.

artwmn said...

Don't want to pester but could you be a little more precise on the method and quantities? I'd love to try this recipe this weekend! Looks luxe!

fougoo said...

Sure, I'll try: I use one pound of ground meat and if using frozen veggies, one standard store-bought package -- you can use regular store greens, but I prefer the frozen greens from the Asian market.

Thaw everything out, and squeeze all the liquid out of the veggies. For the seasoning, I estimate, but but I'd say a maybe 3 tablespoons of soy, 2 tablespoons of Shaoxing cooking wine, one teaspoon sesame oil, one egg white, salt and pepper. As I said, I sneak a taste, but a good smell-test works too...

For the dough, you just use 3 cups of flour and one cup boiling hot water. Start mixing with a fork or whatever, but once the dough starts to form, you should use your hands to form into a ball and knead thoroughly. The ratio works really well so don't be tempted to add more water or flour, just keep kneading and the dough will start working itself into a good texture.

Then put your ball of dough into a bowl and cover with a warm wet towel. This part is important, you can't let the dough dry out. Leave it for about 45 minutes. When you go back to it and start working the dough again, it should feel even better and more pliant than before. Work it till it feels really smooth and pliable.

Then the rolling and stuffing as detailed in the post -- you should be able to get 40 dumpling skins out of your ball of dough, and the filling should be just about the right amount too.

To get the nice shape, I fold the skin in half, only sealing up the very top. Then pinch one bottom corner kind of off center, so you have an excess of skin. Then with that excess, you can make the crimps. And repeat on the other side.

When you're done, pour 2 tablespoons of oil, and arrange in the pan. Non-stick works best to be able to turn them all out together. Then 2 cups of water. It's easiest to use a clear cover like I have so you can see when all the water has boiled off. If you don't have a clear cover, just keep your ear out for the sizzling. When you hear that, you can take the top off and watch it as the rest of the water boils off, taking them off heat before they start to burn.

Then get a big plate, place over you whole frying pan, and have a friend help you flip the whole thing over!

gandas said...

You could always saute a bit of the filling before you stuff to check the seasoning level. I've seen someone Italian do that with sausage -- don't remember who.

I am a lazy cook, however, and I usually trust that my dumplings are well-seasoned and if they aren't, dipping sauce covers it up anyway.

Miya said...

You can also use ground chicken in the dumpling mix...I add a bit of nappa cabbage, garlic and mushrooms too. They are a bit lighter in taste, but delicious none the less.