Last weekend David over at New York Food Journal and his lovely wife, gave us a tour of Sunset Park, Brooklyn, home to one of the largest Chinatowns in New York. We started with a dim sum breakfast at East Harbor Food Seafood Palace and when we entered the restaurant, my nerves trembled most pleasantly as the hostess put a little E for English next to my number so they knew not to call it out in Cantonese with all the other announcements radiating from the speaker above my head. The carts of dim sum being wheeled past me sent a shiver down my spine. I was excited to try all of it, maybe even the chicken feet. When they called our number after a few minutes, we sat down sharing a table with a family of four and spent the morning pointing to whatever we wanted off the carts and trying a bit of everything. After having our fill of shrimp rice, wonton soup, various pates, stuffed and steamed rice cakes, dumplings and peppers, meats, egg rolls, bean curd skins, scallion pancakes and much more we ended up passing on the chicken feet this time and lumbered over to the grocery store desperate to be able to recreate this experience in our homes.
At the grocery store, David pulled out a shopping cart and a basket. I asked him if he planned on buying that much stuff and he said, “The cart is for you.” I walked in, trying to make myself less of an obstacle in the heavy traffic and just like that David was off, leaving me among the durians, lotus roots and bitter melons as he disappeared into different aisles piling into my cart all sorts of beans, fermented pastes, roots, chilis, dumpling wrappers, fresh noodles, cooking wines, hot sauces, flowering herbs, spices and whatever else he believed I would need for my Asian culinary adventures. I got lost among the vegetables dreaming up ways to cook these beautiful and oddly shaped creatures. New York Food Journal, has a wealth of wonderful recipes to try and so it was only fitting that I would adapt one of theirs for my spoils.
Dumplings/pot-stickers are pretty durable during the cooking process. I needed something that would be forgiving because when I’m cooking I’m a mess. Things are balanced in precarious positions, if at least one curse doesn’t come out of my mouth or I don’t drop something, then I guarantee you it won’t taste as good. The dumpling skins withstand the manhandling and movement needed to seal them and remain pretty elastic, even if they rip a bit when you’re trying to unstick them. Steaming hot on the inside they demand fully vested eating attention as you hunch over the plate slurping the dripping, infused sauces and overflowing filling. These will surely become a staple on my table.
Chicken and Chive Dumplings Adapted from New York Food Journal’s Pork and Chive Dumplings
For the Dumplings
- 1 lb ground chicken
- 1 package circular dumpling wrappers
- 1 bunch chives, chopped
- 1 bunch green onions (scallions), chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
- 1 thai chilis, chopped (optional)
- 1 tsp corn starch
For the Sauce
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/8 cup rice vinegar
- a splash of sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon sriracha
- 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
- 1 tablespoon scallions, chopped
- 1 tablespoon chives, chopped
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)
- a touch of honey (optional)
For the Dumplings
Combine garlic, ginger, scallions chives and chilis (if you’re using them) with the chicken in the mixing bowl and gently mix, seasoning with salt and pepper.
In a small bowl combine 1 tsp corn starch with some water. With your hands or a spoon, scoop out a small amount of the chicken mixture and place it in the middle of a circular dumpling wrapper. Dip a finger in the corn starch and water mixture and trace your finger around the edge of the wrapper. Fold the edges towards each other like a half moon and press the edges together. There are ways to pleat these things, but I was unsuccessful. As long as they stay closed, which they did with the cornstarch trick, you should be golden.
When you’ve made all the dumplings, heat a pan large enough to fit the dumplings to medium-high heat. Add sesame oil to the pan. When the pan gets fairly hot, carefully add the dumplings to the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes until the bottom side of the dumplings get crispy (I opted to make mine more steamed so I didn’t let them get too crispy). Meanwhile, fill a measuring cup with 1/2-2/3 of a cup of water. When the dumplings are browned, add the water to the pan and immediately cover. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the water evaporates. Carefully remove the dumplings to a plate.
For the ginger chili soy dip, whisk all of the ingredients together. Serve the potstickers hot with the dip on the side.