March 30, 2010

Chicken Gyoza's (pot stickers)

I have to say that out of all of the dim sum I've gotten into cooking, these seem to be the most popular among family and friends. Actually a Japanese dish, they are a really nice alternative to the normal prawn crackers or ribs that you may usually indulge in, and very versatile. You can substitute the chicken for tofu (vegetarians/vegans) or perhaps use prawn or beef instead.

While commonly known as 'gyoza', you may have heard them under their pseudonym 'pot stickers'. This is because they are fried on one side and then turned over and cooked in a small amount of water, creating the crispy/sticky skins.

The gyoza skins can be found in most Asian food shops, even the smaller ones. Usually kept frozen:

Makes 8 dumplings
(serve 2 pp)

1 tbspn vegetable oil, for cooking

2 dried mushrooms, pre-soaked (available in the supermarket, look for shiitake)
75g minced chicken
1 spring onion
1 garlic clove
1 tspn grated ginger
1 tspn toasted sesame oil
salt to taste

To serve:

Use a dipping sauce such as sweet chilli or scroll to the bottom for a special Gyoza dipping sauce.

Begin by chopping up all over the ingredients really small, including the ginger garlic, spring onion, mushrooms and chicken.

Put all of the ingredients into a bowl and mix together well. Only a pinch of salt is needed for those who so wish.

Now pour some water into a cup and keep it to one side. Take one of the gyoza skins, laying it out flat. Place around a teaspoon full of mixture (heaped) onto one of the skins. You will be folding the skin over in the middle so put it towards the top rather than in the middle.

Now, using your finger, dip it into the cup of water and gently wet the top half of the skin around the outside:

Now pick up the bottom half of the skin and press it flat against the top half, using your fingers to press down where the water is, holding it in place. Feel free to pick it up and do this as the skins are not very delicate, and sometimes it's easier to squash them together!

Now for the fancy bit we have to try and make it look like some kind of Asian mini Cornish pasty. Using your nimble thimbles, bunch the skin up together slightly at one end (see pic) and press down flat, creating a kind of layover.

Do this 4 or 5 times around the outside of the skin, and you will see your Asian pasty come into shape. Don't worry if it doesn't stay completely flat, sometimes it's just trial and error.

Now, heat a large frying pan over a medium heat and once hot, add the oil. You don't want to put in too much as you'll also be adding some water and as we all know, hot oil + water creates the big orange hot thing also known as fire, so err on the side of caution with this one.

Once the oil is hot, add the gyoza's side down into the pan and cook for 3-5 minutes or until a golden brown colour and slightly crispy. Once you've achieved this, turn the gyoza's over (tongs work best) and cook the other side for around 3 minutes.

To create the sticky side, you now need to add in some water. You can use up to a 1/4 of a glass, but do it a little at a time, otherwise you'll end up with no eyebrows. Once the water is in, whip on the lid (or use a big plate) and steam until the water has all been absorbed (takes less than a minute).

Serve immediately with some dipping sauce (see below).

NB I suggest if you're only serving gyoza's as an appetiser or starter you may want to make 3-4 per person so adjust the ingredients accordingly.

Gyoza Dipping Sauce

Serves 4

1 tspn rice vinegar (use sherry as an alternative)
1 tspn dark soy sauce
2 drops sesame oil

Combine the mixture and stir. Serve straight away.

March 29, 2010

King Prawn Toasts

These little numbers are not like what you get down the local takeaway, but are a really delicious and easy version of the popular dish. Great served as an appetiser or a selection of dim sum.

Makes 8-10 toasts

8 uncooked prawns (grey)
1 tbspn spring onion
1 tbspn coriander
1/2 tbspn ginger
1 tspn shao hsing wine/dry sherry
1/2 tspn light soy sauce
1/2 egg white
salt to taste

For the toasts

2 slices wholemeal bread (you can use granary/white if preferred)
sesame seeds (packet)
vegetable oil

To serve:

For dipping sauces use sweet chili sauce, soy or a favourite of your own.

Peel and de-vein the prawns (unless already done for you). This is a little bit fiddly as the veins run down both the front and back of the prawn. Lightly insert a small knife and cut down the sides, then remove the blue vein. The smaller the knife the better as it is just easier to work with.

Next, chop up all the ingredients finely including the spring onion, coriander, ginger and prawns. Put these into a bowl and add the soy sauce, egg white, shao hsing wine and salt (just a pinch to taste). Mix well.

Now remove and discard the crusts from the bread and cut each slice into 4 triangles (if using large slices, you could make slightly smaller toasts and cut into 8 instead).

Place a spoonful of mixture onto one side of the triangle shaped bread, and press down lightly to cover well.

Once you've covered each piece, pour out the sesame seeds onto a plate (worth using less rather than more as I always end up wasting some) and press the toasts prawn side down onto the sesame seeds. Turn over and make sure they are covered well.

Now heat a wok or frying pan until hot and add the oil. When you see it start to shimmer slightly, add the toasts - prawn side down - and cook on a medium heat for one minute.

When they are a nice golden brown, flip the toasts over and cook for a further minute (NB prawn cooks very quickly so be careful to avoid burning).

Remove from wok using a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper for a couple of minutes before serving.