Shanghai Stir-Fried Pork and Cabbage

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If you’ve read this little blog for any amount of time over the past year you have probably noticed that I mention China a lot. That’s mostlybecause it seems like Jesse is always there. In 2011 he was there for a grand total of almost 6 months. That’s a lot of time apart. Of course I was happy to get to spend time in China with him last summer but it still seemed like we were apart so much. Now that we know he is going to spend a significant amount of time there again this year, I’m headed back!

This trip is going to be almost 2 months and I couldn’t be more excited. There are only a few weeks before I leave and I have been so busy getting ready for the trip.

With traveling to another country and living out of a hotel for 2 months I probably won’t be cooking much but don’t worry. Part of my getting ready for the trip has been making a plan and building a nice back-log of recipes and pictures so I can continue to post while I’m gone. I’m still deciding exactly how I want spread things out, but I will have recipes to post and I’ll also probably be doing a weekly recap of foodie finds and exciting sites in China. I may have other tricks up my sleeve, but you’ll just have to wait and see. 🙂

I know the food is what really makes a food blog, but I hope you’ll stick with me as I work my way through this craziness. In the meantime I bring you Shanghai Style Stir-Fried Pork and Cabbage to celebrate my traveling to Shanghai.

This recipe jumped right out at me as I was flipping through last months Food & Wine Magazine. Of course I was immediately drawn to the name and the picture sealed the deal for me. The ingredient list might not look that exciting and you may wonder if you should tweak it and make some additions. Trust me, it doesn’t need a load of garlic or dash of ginger. It’s one of those “less is more” kind of things. The pork is juicy, the mushrooms are savory, the cabbage is a little tangy, and it’s all brought together nicely with a simple sauce.


Shanghai Stir-Fried Pork and Cabbage

Ingredients
3/4 pound boneless pork loin, trimmed of fat
8 dried shitake mushrooms
2 tsp corn starch
1 1/2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
1/4 tsp sugar
1/4 cup peanut oil
Kosher salt
1 pound Napa cabbage, halved lengthwise, cored, and cut into thin strips
Cooked rice and Red Chile Sauce for serving

Directions
Place the pork loin in the freezer for 15 minutes to make cutting easier.

While the pork is in the freezer, reconstitute the shitake mushrooms by covering with boiling water and letting stand for 5 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the water and press out the water. Remove stems and cut mushroom caps into strips. Set aside on a paper towel.

In a small bowl whisk together the corn starch, rice vinegar, soy sauce, 1 tablespoon oil, pepper and sugar. Remove the pork from the freezer and cut into 1/4″ slices. Stack the slices on top of each other and cut into 1/4″ strips. Place the strips of pork in the sauce and stir to evenly coat.

Heat 2 tablespoons of peanut oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat until the oil just starts to smoke. Using tongs, carefully add the pork strips to the hot oil. Cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until the pork is no longer pink and the edges just start to turn golden brown, using tongs to stir the pork to evenly cook . Remove the pork from the wok and set aside on a paper towel.

Add another tablespoon of oil and a pinch of kosher salt to the wok and allow to heat for about a minute. To the wok, add the shitake mushrooms and half of the cabbage. Stir-fry over high heat until the cabbage has wilted. Return the pork to the pan and add the other half of the cabbage. Cook just until the cabbage is tender, but not completely wilted.

Serve with rice and red chile sauce (I was so hungry I forgot to add the sauce and get a picture, don’t be like me, don’t forget the red chile sauce!).

Source: Food & Wine Magazine, January 2012

Asian Lettuce Wraps

Last week the family I nanny for went on vacation so that meant two things for me. One, STAYCATION – which after the craziness of this summer was very, very welcome. Two, lots of cooking and baking. Well the staycation was awesomely relaxing and my kitchen took the beating like a champ.

Since getting back from China I have really wanted to get back into a groove of meal planning and I figured a week at home was the perfect time to get started. I have to say it’s AMAZING how many more vegetables I include when I plan my meals in advance. Every night I was just enamored with the beautiful colors included in all of my meals. Especially this meal.

I came across this recipe the morning I made my meal plan and it went straight to the front of the line. Besides Jesse jokingly saying, “Wow that appetizer looks great, what’s for dinner” (Do you know what popular chain restaurant he was thinking of?) these lettuce wraps went over really well. I loved the punch of veggies and the fact that I was able to not only cook a meal without dairy or a major carb, but that it was actually really enjoyed by all.

Recipe Note: The most time consuming part of this whole meal is chopping the veggies. I recommend doing all of the chopping and throwing the veggies in a bowl before starting up the stovetop. Once you start cooking everything goes really quickly. Also if you’re feeding people with big appetites, I would recommend multiplying the recipe time 1.5 or 2.

Asian Lettuce Wraps

(Adapted from Good Thymes and Good Food, previously on Annie’s Eats)

Ingredients

Sauce

4 tsp hoisin sauce
4tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
3 tsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp cornstarch
Freshly ground black pepper

Filling

2 tsp canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 shallot, minced
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 lb. ground turkey, chicken, or pork (I did a combination of ground chicken and pork)
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup carrot, very finely diced
1/2 green apple, finely diced
2 green onions, thinly sliced

Lettuce, for wrapping

Directions

In a measuring cup, whisk together all of the ingredients for the sauce, set aside.

Heat a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Add the canola oil to the pan along with the garlic, shallot, and ginger. Cook for 30-60 seconds or until fragrant.

Add the ground meat to the pan, breaking into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook until the meat is no longer pink then create a well in the center of the pan by pushing the meat to the outside edges. Add the onion, bell pepper, frozen peas, and carrot to pan and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Finally add the sauce, apples, and green onion. Stir to evenly coat and cook for 1 minute to allow the sauce to slightly thicken.

Serve with fresh lettuce.

Chinese Dumplings

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So far, I would have to say that the highlight of my trip to China has been cooking alongside Mandy and learning how to make Chinese dumplings. I did my best to take notes, ask questions and keep a careful eye on all of the steps. I even consulted with Mandy via gmail chat as I wrote out this recipe to be sure that I had it right. That being said, Mandy has told me several times that the problem with making real Chinese food is that recipes and exact amounts are rarely used. Most people that she knows that cook do it by taste, smell, and texture. Or, to them a cup is the green cup that their grandmother had on the counter. So I encourage you to use your best judgment as you go forward with this recipe. If you’re mixing and it feels like there should be more soy sauce, corn starch, or even green onions for that matter, go with your gut. For example, after finely chopping the garlic and throwing it in the bowl she said, “I don’t know, what do you think, more garlic?” Of course I responded with, “Heck yeah more garlic.” Also keep in mind that the filling should stick to itself pretty well, but not the sides of the bowl.

A huge thank you to Mandy for opening up her kitchen to me and doing her best to teach me!


We started with shopping for fresh ingredients

Pork, Cabbage, and Mushroom Filling for Chinese Dumplings
As taught to me by our friend, Mandy

Ingredients
1 1/2 lbs ground pork
3/4 cup Chinese cabbage, finely chopped
3/4 cup mushrooms, finely chopped
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 green onions, including whites, finely chopped
1 Tbsp fresh minced ginger
1 egg
1 tsp chicken bouillon (or one cube, crushed)
2 tsp corn starch
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt

~50 dumpling wraps*
1/2 cup water (for sealing the dumplings)

Corn oil and water for cooking

*Available in most well stocked grocery stores in the refrigerated section (or near produce) or can be found at Asian specialty stores. It might not hurt to call ahead and ask! I will add an updated link to this recipe when I get home and test out making my own dough!


Some of the ingredients


Chop Chop!

Directions
Place all of the first group of ingredients in a large bowl. At first, use two clean hands to lightly mix together and evenly distribute various ingredients. When the ingredients appear to be evenly distributed hold the bowl with one hand and use the other to fold the ingredients from the back side of the bowl to the front. Turn the bowl a quarter turn and fold again. Repeat until the filling is sticking together after each turn. This process keeps the filling from being overworked and getting tough. If for some reason it just doesn’t seem to be coming together you can try adding a little bit more cornstarch and a tablespoon of beaten egg.


Folding ingredients together

To fill the dumplings, hold the dumpling wrapper in one hand and place about 2 tbsp of filling in the middle. Wet one finger and run around the edge of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper (kind of like a taco) and pinch in the middle. The sides will still be open at this point. Now, each open end is going to get 3 pinches. Each pinch will work it’s way to the middle. You want the final dumpling to be able to stand on it’s own.


Filling


The theme of the evening was pinch, pinch, pinch

Heat one tablespoon of oil in a large skillet (with a lid) over medium heat. Add a group of dumplings to the pan and cook in oil for two minutes. After two minutes, add 1/2 cup of water (or enough to come 1/3 of the way up the dumplings), cover the skillet with a lid (careful there will be some splatter!) and cook for 6-8 minutes or until all of the water has been absorbed. Repeat with remaining dumplings.

For dipping, Mandy threw together some soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, garlic, and green onion. I didn’t get the exact measurements or a picture, though.


I made beef and mushrooms with gravy and mashed potatoes,
Jesse put it all in one bowl and enjoyed 🙂

Shrimp Fried Rice

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The first time Jesse was in China he had a lot of fun shopping for souvenirs. He brought home lots of really cool stuff. And when I say lots, I mean it. He had 3 suitcases, one of them the size of Texas. The suitcase that was the size of Texas was actually overweight to the point that he had to remove stuff and put it in a box to be shipped back. The airline rep at the counter said he couldn’t just pay the overweight fee because it was just too heavy for the workers to lift on to the plane. Yeah, that kind of “lots of stuff”. Granted he also had to TAKE a lot of stuff with him so it wasn’t all souvenirs, but a good amount.

Now, I know you can buy chop sticks here in the US, but I still thought it was awesome when he brought home a pack. He also brought a really nice Chinese tea set. Little yellow cups with black and red masks painted on the side and a matching teapot perfect for brewing tea. As cool as those things are I don’t always have a good excuse to use them. But this week a little celebration is in order. And I think the most appropriate way to celebrate is making Chinese food and using my chopsticks and tea set.

Why the celebration? Because, I AM GOING TO CHINA! I am so excited I can’t stand it. First and foremost, I get to be with my husband. Second, I get to travel to some where completely new and different to me. I hope to find ways to really immerse myself in the culture and learn lots of new things. And of course I plan to try lots of new foods!

As for the fried rice I made, it was delicious. It’s always fun when I get to use my wok and try new ingredients (Chinese cabbage). I can’t say how authentic this recipe is but I will definitely make it again.


Shrimp Fried Rice
(Adapted from The New Basics Cookbook)

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup onion, chopped
1/2 medium head Chinese cabbage, coarsely chopped
3 cups cooked long-grain white rice
1/4 soy sauce
1/8 rice vinegar
1/8 orange juice
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup frozen peas
8 ounces small shrimp, shelled, raw, deveined
2 eggs, beaten
2 Tbsp green onion, sliced (for garnishing, and I forgot but will remember next time)

Heat the oil in a wok (or large skillet) over medium-low heat. Add the onion, ginger and garlic and saute until soft, about 4 minutes.

Add the cabbage to the wok and increase the heat to medium. Cook for 6 minutes, until it appears limp. Stir often.

Create a well in the cabbage and pour in the soy sauce, rice vinegar, orange juice and chicken broth. Bring to a simmer and add the shrimp. Cook just until the shrimp is light pink then add the rice and peas. Cook for 4 minutes, stirring constantly making sure to coat the rice evenly.

Make a well in the middle of the rice. Pour the eggs into the well and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring with a fork. Gently fold the eggs into the rice.

Serve immediately with green onions for garnish.