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Cooking Tips from Allison Vencel - Week 13

This week, I had the final "pork steak" from my  big freeze-a-thon back at the end of January ready to go....I do try for a  60-day rotation on frozen meats...
             and it was time for this to be used up. The  only real question of course, was....what do I make with it?  I chose a  really challenging one for this weeks' post,
           and decided that this one piece of  meat....

             ...was going to be dinner....AND an appetizer! How, you ask?  Asian food! I knew there would be enough meat there to fill some pot stickers,  but wonton soup, too? I must be nuts! On the other hand, I had these in the  fridge, and they were rapidly approaching the "use me up or feel guilty  about throwing me away" stage....

             First, I removed the bone from the  pork steak, all the fat, and cut it into chunks (kitchen scissors - yay!) I  then scoured the pixie-pantry and refrigerator for
             suitable ingredients and  found;green onions, cornstarch, soy sauce  and sesame oil, cabbage, garlic and ginger. We are in business!

After a minor chop, I threw the meat, scallions, ginger, garlic and cabbage into the food processor...

Pulse this until blended, and the ginger and garlic are in small enough   pieces...Now, prepare your work area for filling these yummy pockets of   goodness.
           I got out a plate, and sprinkled on some cornstarch (so the   pot stickers don't become plate-stickers hardy-har), a small ramekin of   water for wetting
           the edges of the dough, the now-blended meat mixture,   and of course, the wonton skins.

Now, take a regular teaspoon, and place about a half-teaspoon of filling   into the center of the wonton skin and
             wet the entire border with your   fingers after you dip them into the bowl of water so..

Fold it over to make a little triangle....

Then, crimp the top in a decorative, but more importantly, well-sealed manner. Like this little packet of goodness!

As you finish each one, place them on a plate dusted with cornstarch,   and cover with a damp paper towel, so they do not dry out.
             Here's all my   little soldiers..lined up and saluting!

Now, take the remainder of the filling, and as you fill the wonton   skins, pull all the corners up into a little pouch, squeeze hard to   seal, and press down slightly.
           You will now have wontons, as well as pot   stickers!

Continue until all the filling is used up, and place on a plate in the same fashion as your pot stickers.  Here are mine...

After I took this photograph, I immediately froze half the batch...for a   busy, work night Chinese take-out meal without the cost, or paper   boxes, or even a reservation!

Carrot, scallions, dried shittake mushrooms, broccoli, chicken base,   bamboo shoots, cabbage, and the soy sauce and sesame oil from earlier.

I soaked the mushrooms for about 10 minutes in really hot tap water,   then sliced everything in a similar manner.
             This keeps everythings' cooking time the same, and looks attractive in the soup bowl.

Now, fill a 3 quart saucepan three quarters full with water, and only   add about 2 Tablespoons of chicken base. Asian soups have very light,   delicate broths.
           Add a Tablespoon each of soy sauce and sesame oil.    Everyone but half the scallions, the broccoli, and the wontons goes into   the broth.

Cover and simmer on medium low for about ten minutes, until the   vegetables are tender. Then add your wontons and simmer for ten minutes   longer. Finally, add the broccoli and garnish with thinly sliced   scallion. Simmer for 5 minutes and turn it off....keep it covered while   you finish the pot stickers. Here's the fun part - while the soup is   simmering, place 1/2 cup of water and one tablespoon of vegetable oil in   a skillet. Add your pot stickers, cover and steam for about ten   minutes.

Then remove the lid (medium heat), and as the water evaporates, the oil   remains, and gets those lovely crispy brown bottoms going on the pot   stickers.
           This takes about five to ten more minutes...they are done when   the water has all evaporated, and the bottoms are brown and crispy,
           but   not burnt. Pick them up and check them, if you need to - it won't harm a   thing!

Don't worry about the water looking a little "milky" - that's just from   the cornstarch on the bottom of the wontons.  Now, pour some soy sauce   into a bowl,
           add a little vinegar, scallions and sesame oil, and you've   got your dipping sauce. The results?  Just amazing. Have a look!



An appetizer, and lovely, warming wonton soup. All from that small piece   of protein, and a few bits and bobs from your pantry and refrigerator! I   won't tell you how incredibly good it was, because I can already hear   your car tires squealing as you race to your local Chinese take-out.   Stop it at once! Go MAKE it!

What is your favorite Asian dish, that you duplicate as well as, or better than the local take-out?

Eat well, my friends and stay tuned for our next Something From Nothing,   and see what those naughty, naughty little Kitchen Angels have been up   to.

Love and kindness to all,


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