Turkey Lettuce Cups

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These lettuce cups are an explosion of flavor and texture.  You get an amazing crunch from the lettuce and water chestnuts and then the sweet and spicy from the sauces.  It’s also a beautiful looking dish, with splashes of color from the green onions and red peppers.

 

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Start by browning the ground turkey with some garlic.

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Have all your other filling ingredients chopped and ready to go.  Here I have cremini mushrooms, red bell pepper, green onion and water chestnuts.  Chop them all finely and set aside.

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Add everything in except the green onions and saute until softened.

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Shaohsing cooking wine is a staple in a Chinese pantry.  But if you’re not Chinese, or just don’t have any, you can substitute with sherry wine.

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Hoisin sauce is another common flavoring item in Chinese cooking.  It is sort of like a sweet bbq sauce, but deeper in flavor.  This is very common in grocery stores now, so I’m sure you can find it in the Asian aisle at the store.

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If you don’t know what Sriracha sauce is, it’s a very tasty and spicy chili sauce.  This can also be found easily at your local grocery store, probably close to the hoisin.

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After adding in all the sauces, throw in the green onions.  I put the onions in last because I don’t want them to wilt down and lose its color or texture.  Add in the Chinese five spice, salt and white pepper to taste.

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Here is the beautifully cooked turkey filling, ready to plopped on top of a leaf of iceberg lettuce.

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Iceberg lettuce is really the best type to use for this dish.  It is firm and holds its shape well.  It also has the best crunch and is conveniently shaped like a bowl.  This is an ideal dish for  a low carb diet, but tasty enough that you won’t miss the carb at all!!

 

Turkey Lettuce Cups

Yield:  10 servings

1 ½ pounds ground turkey

2 cups fresh cremini mushrooms, diced

2 tablespoons canola oil

3 cloves garlic, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 small tin (6 to 8 oz) sliced water chestnuts, diced

3 green onions, diced

3 tablespoons Shaosing Chinese cooking wine

3 tablespoons hoisin sauce

1 tablespoon Sriracha chile sauce

Kosher salt and white pepper

½ teaspoon Chinese five spice

1/2 large head iceberg lettuce, core removed, head quartered

 

Remove tough stems from mushrooms and brush with damp towel to clean, dice mushrooms.

Preheat a large skillet or wok to high.

Add oil to hot pan.  Add ground turkey to the pan and saute the meat by stir frying a minute or 2. Add garlic and cook another minute or two. Add in the Chinese five spice and salt and pepper to taste. Cook a minute more. Add bell pepper and chopped water chestnuts. Cook another minute, continuing to stir fry mixture. Add cooking wine, hoisin, sriracha and toss to coat the mixture evenly.  Add the green onions at the end to retain color and freshness.

Transfer the hot turkey mixture to serving platter and pile the quartered wedges of crisp iceberg lettuce along side. To eat, pile spoonfuls into a lettuce cup, wrapping lettuce around the filling and enjoy!

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The Year of the Dragon

Happy Chinese New Year!  Supposedly, the year of the dragon is the luckiest year in the Chinese zodiac.  So, if you’re a dragon, live it up this year.

Here are a few of my favorite Chinese dishes I’ve shared with you before.  Hope this inspires you to try making and eating some new Chinese food this year.

Click on the name of each dish to take you to the recipe.

Green Onion Pancake

Pork Potstickers

Chicken and Shrimp Chow Fun

Lion Head Meatballs

Spicy Tofu and Edamame Beans


Pork and Prawn Dumplings

Mix It Up!

As you can tell from this two-gallon glass jar, we eat a lot of rice in my house.  This, my friend,  is nothing.

I grew up with an entire 20-gallon bucket of rice that was stored under the kitchen sink in my parents’ house.   It’s the only place it would fit and we couldn’t lift the thing more than 3 inches off the ground, sooo there it stayed!

I was the rice preparer in the family and I’ve washed and cooked enough rice as a child to consider it illegal child labor!

Unfortunately, according to my parents it is the job of every youngest child in the Chinese family to cook the rice.  The bright side is that now it’s my 6-year old daughter’s job in the kitchen.  The irony is………..she LOVES doing it!  It’s a win-win situation.

It seems the whole world is in a tizzy about eating healthy and organic, so I decided to ease my family into it a bit without causing a big raucous.  No, I haven’t totally cleared my pantry of processed food stuffs.

I would have a mutiny on my hands people!

So this is my kitchen tip for rice:  Mix it up!!  Add in organic brown rice with your regular white rice.  Genius, right?  My mixture here is 50/50.  You do have to remember that you either want to add more water when cooking the rice this way, or soak the rice in cold water for 30 minutes before cooking, to soften the brown rice.

This little tip has my family eating healthier without the big flavor shock and I feel like I pulled one over on the little buggers!

Chicken and Shrimp Chow Fun

Like most people in January, I’m on a mission to lose the weight I gained over the holidays.  So when I think about healthy yet flavorful food, I think of Chinese.

I love Chinese noodle dishes because they are a one pot (or wok) meal.  You get your protein, starch and vegetable all in one dish and most of the time, it’s all pretty healthful.

Try it out and see if you agree that it’s a pretty tasty noodle dish.

 

This the brand of Chinese rice noodles I use.  You most likely won’t find this in your regular grocery store.  You’ll have to make a trip to the Asian market for this dish.

 

 

Here’s the Chinese trinity.

Start with minced garlic.

*Tip: if you want to get the odor of garlic off your hands, rub them on something that is stainless steel like a knife (not the sharp part), a bowl or a your stainless steel sink.

I have absolutely no idea why this works, but it does.  I’m sure some science geek can explain it to you.  When you find out, please let me know too!

 

Minced fresh ginger.

 

 

Green onions or some like to call it scallions.

 

 

This is Chinese spinach, you can just use normal spinach or baby spinach.

 

 

One of my favorite mushrooms are shiitake.  It always reminds me of my childhood because it’s the one my mom used the most.

 

 

Marinate the shrimp and sliced chicken for at least 10 minutes.

 

Chicken and Shrimp Chow Fun


Marinade

1 chicken breast, sliced into pieces

½ pound shrimp, shelled, deveined

1 tablespoon Shaoshing rice wine

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

¼ teaspoon white pepper

vegetable oil

32 oz package chow fun noodles

3 green onion, sliced into ½ inch pieces

2 teaspoon minced garlic

2 teaspoon minced ginger

1 pound spinach, chopped

15 fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced

 

Sauce

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons Shaosing rice wine

1 teaspoon hoisin sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

¼ cup water or chicken broth

 

In a medium bowl, toss together the first 6 ingredients and marinate for at least 10 minutes.

Separate the chow fun noodles. Heat wok and add 2 teaspoons vegetable oil.   Stir fry garlic and ginger for 10 seconds. Add chicken and shrimp and cook until nearly done.  Remove onto a plate, keep warm.

Next, add more oil to your wok and stir fry the mushrooms, spinach and green onions.  Add the sauce mixture to the wok.  When the vegetables are nearly cooked, add the noodles into the wok while you are mixing, a handful at a time.

Continue cooking until the noodles have absorbed all the flavors and are hot.  Add the chicken and shrimp back into the wok with the noodles.   Stir everything together until incorporated.  Serve hot.

Pork and Prawn Dumplings (Shu Mai)

These shu mai (Cantonese) or shao mai (Mandarin) in any language are tasty little bites of pork and shrimp wrapped up in a thin flour dough.  They are a must-have at any dim sum table, in Hong Kong or in America.

I apologize for the bad lighting in this picture, but the taste of these dumplings more than makes up for it.  You’ll just have to trust me on that!

 

I have been holding off on making these shu mai for years because I could not imagine myself steaming them in anything else but a real bamboo steamer basket.  It just wouldn’t be right!

There is nothing that makes me feel more Asian than my Chinese kitchen gadgets.  I love my wok, electric rice cooker, bamboo spider (sieve), and now this steamer.

I asked for a bamboo steamer for my birthday this year.  The first place my husband looked was at Sur la Table……really honey?!  Don’t get me wrong, I love this store, but I just could not see myself owning a Chinese bamboo steamer that came from such a French-sounding store.  I just couldn’t live with myself.

We made several special trips to many Chinese grocery stores and finally found my much-coveted steamer.  It was sitting there on the shelf, just waiting for me to come and rescue it and make it a part of my family, which it now is!

And no, I haven’t named it or anything!

 

Okay, let’s get down to business.  Here are the wrappers you will need.  These or wonton wrappers will work too.

 

I love ginger!  This dish really does need it.  The French have their mirepoix of carrot, onion and celery.  The Italians have their holy trinity of onion, bell pepper and celery.  Well, I think that the Chinese equivalent is ginger, garlic and scallions.  The aroma is just so distinctly Chinese, you can’t go wrong with these three ingredients.

 

Make sure all the aromatics are chopped finely.  These are little bites of dumplings, so you want to make sure it’s all evenly distributed.

 

You know how I mentioned my Chinese kitchen gadgets?  Here is another one I love, my humongous cleaver.  This thing can take your arm off if you’re not careful!  I use it for chopping through chicken bone………no joke.

 

Who needs a food processor when you have a ginormous cleaver like this?  Chop that shrimp up, but leave it a bit chunky.  Don’t mash it into a paste, we want to maintain the texture of the shrimp.

Even though I was born in Taiwan, I was raised in America, so I never learned to read Chinese.  If anyone would like to translate the words on my cleaver for me, I would be much obliged!

 

All my ingredients are combined.  If you really want to make sure this tastes good, you can take a spoonful of this filling and cook it up in a pan and do a taste test.  My mom would do this sometimes if she was cooking for important company and she wanted to make sure it tasted right.

 

Put about that much of the filling in your wrapper.  I didn’t do it here, but you can brush the edges of the wrapper with an egg wash, so it sticks to the filling better.

 

Slowly close your fingers around the wrapper and bring up the edges to the top.  I used a spoon to flatten down the top and make sure they all looked even.

 

You want to make sure you put something down between the steamer basket and the shu mai because they will stick.  I lay down leaves of cabbage and allow it to steam until they are wilted, then lay my dumplings down.  Who needs parchment paper, right?

 

Pork and Prawn Dumplings (Shu Mai)

1 cup ground pork

1 cup raw shrimp, shelled, deveined, and coarsely diced

2 scallions/green onion, finely chopped

2 tbsp freshly chopped ginger

2 tsp finely chopped garlic

2 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp Shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry

4 tsp cornstarch

2 tsp toasted sesame oil

Pinch sea salt

Pinch freshly cracked black pepper

20 shu mai or wonton wrappers

Mix the pork, shrimp, onion, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, rice wine, cornstarch, sesame oil, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Stir to combine the ingredients.

Take 1 wonton wrapper and place 2 teaspoons of the filling in the center. Then, gather up the sides of the wrapper and mold it around the filling into a ball-like shape, leaving the center exposed.

Cook’s Note: Ensure you pinch the wrapper around the filling firmly. To help, you can brush the wonton wrapper with egg wash to prevent wrappers from opening up and separating from the filling once cooked.

Line the bottom of a bamboo steamer with leaves of cabbage. Arrange the dumplings in the steamer, cover with a lid and place it over a pan of boiling water, making sure the water does not touch the base of the steamer. Steam the dumplings for 6 to 8 minutes, or until cooked.

Pork Potstickers

 

Italians have the ravioli, Argentina the  empanada, Poland the pierogi, and the Chinese have the wonderful POTSTICKER or guo tie/jiao zi (for my Chinese friends out there).

 

Here is the classic potsticker I grew up eating. Whenever my parents would make these, our kitchen would turn into a Chinese potsticker factory. Because it was such a task, they always made more than we were going to eat that day.  My parents would freeze extras on trays and we would always have a stockpile in the freezer, ready to go. Our freezer was not your typical American freezer with frozen waffles and ice cream. No…….we had whole fish frozen in mid swim, fish balls, Chinese sweet sausage, and of course bags and bags of potstickers.

I remember learning a new part of the process each year as I got older.  When I was really little, I was only allowed to be the water dabber (that step comes later).  I graduated to spooning the filling onto the wrapper and when I was a teenager, my dad took we under his wing and showed me the art of folding the potsticker.  It was an exciting day!  Of course my sad, long, flat looking dumpling looked nothing like his stately plump ones.  But, as you’ll see from the following pictures, I mastered it at last.

 

This the filling.  Notice the ground pork has a good marbling of fat.  My local grocery store has prepackaged ground pork that is too lean and has no fat.  I make a special trip to the Asian grocery store to stock up on my ingredients when I make these potstickers.

This filling is succulent and turns out so juicy after they’re cooked because of the cabbage in it. Of course the pork fat doesn’t hurt either.

 

This is my mini-potsticker factory. Everything is strategically placed for ease of wrapping these delicious bundles of meat filling.

 

Dab your finger into the bowl of water and make a wet ring around the potsticker wrapper.

 

Pinch the center points together.

 

I start from the right side and fold and pinch for a puckered effect.

 

Fold and pinch the left side.

 

Here’s the cute puckered back side.

 

If you’re counting, there are 60 potstickers on this tray.  I had to use another tray to fit the rest.  Two packages of wrappers make about 100 potstickers.

 

 

 

Here they are getting pan fried.

 

I tipped them over to show you their lovely brown, crunchy bottoms. That’s the best part.

They’re all nice and juicy, just ready for a swim in my dipping sauce.

 

Pork Potstickers

2 pounds ground pork

1 head cabbage

4 green onion, chopped

2 Tbsp grated ginger

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 Tbsp sesame oil

1 tsp pepper

2 packages of dumpling wrappers

vegetable oil

 

Dipping sauce

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 Tbsp sesame oil

2 Tbsp rice vinegar

1/2 tsp pepper

chili sauce (optional)

sesame seeds (optional)

 

Start by cutting the head of cabbage into quarters and boil in a pot, with enough water to cover the cabbage.  When leaves are wilted and cooked through, drain it and let cool before handling. Squeeze all the excess water out and chop into fine dice. It’s very important to get all the water out, or else you’ll have a watered down, loose filling.

Add cabbage to a large bowl with all the other ingredients. Mix well until incorporated. Spoon a rounded tablespoon of filling into middle of wrapper.  Dab a ring of water around wrapper and begin wrapping.

To cook the potstickers, start with enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom of your pan.  Place potstickers in flat side down. Wait for bottoms to brown. Add a quarter cup of water to the pan and quickly put a lid on the pan to allow the potstickers to steam until all the liquid is gone, about 3-4 minutes or until cooked through.

Mix dipping sauce ingredients in a small bowl and dip the potstickers.  Enjoy!!

Chinese Green Onion Pancake

 

Growing up, I knew it was a special occasion in our house when Dad was in the kitchen. My mom was the one who cooked for us day in and day out. My dad on the other hand, made specialty foods for us when there was a holiday or if we were having important company coming over for dinner.

This green onion pancake was one of his specialties and one of my favorite childhood foods. This savory pancake is filled with a pungent green onion flavor and crispy layers of salty, doughy goodness. Who knew five simple ingredients could be incorporated into such a delectably tasty dish.

This is a very common street food item in the streets of the Taiwan night market. You can smell the oil and green onion perfuming the air as you walk from vendor to vendor. The pancake can be eaten at any meal, in lieu of rice.  You can also use it as a tortilla and fill it with meats and vegetables, like a Chinese taco of sorts.

 

Chinese Green Onion Pancake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup warm water

1 cup finely chopped green onion

3 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp salt (more as needed)

6 Tbsp cooking oil

 

In a bowl add water to flour and mix with your fingers and mix until smooth. Set aside for 20 minutes. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth. After resting, remove the dough and knead it on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic. Roll the dough to form a one inch thick log and cut into 6 pieces.

Take one of the 6 pieces of pancake dough, using a rolling pin, roll out into a circle about 4-5 inches in diameter. Brush dough lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle salt and then some green onions over the dough.

Now roll it like a cigar (not that I condone smoking of any kind), into an egg roll shape. Then taking the dough from one end, roll it up again lengthwise until it forms a coiled ball. Then turn it over on its end (spiral side up) and press the dough down with the palm of your hand. Roll it out with a rolling pin, into a circle ready to be pan-fried. This technique will give the pancake its flaky layers.

Do the same to the other 5 rolls of pancake dough. Keep them separated, otherwise they’ll stick.

Heat up a pan and then pour in about 1 to 2 tablespoons of cooking oil. When the oil is hot, fry the pancakes until golden brown on one side and then turn over to fry the other side. Enjoy best warm.