Monday, July 9, 2012

Oriental-Themed Dinner Party?!

  We love oriental food at our house. My dad spent two years in Japan in the earlier years of his adult life and thus instilled in his children a love for the food. Lucky for me my hubby has an equal love of Japanese and Chinese food.
  One particular favorite is Gyoza; a wonton wrapper stuffed with a meat and vegetable mixture that is pan-fried and then steamed. YUM! 
  We stopped in to an oriental market over the weekend where I picked up the most inexpensive and fantastic-looking wonton wrappers (these can also be found at some supermarkets, but are a more inferior quality). The craving for gyoza was then set in motion. 
  I have put together an easy (although slightly time-consuming) menu that is great for an oriental-themed dinner party, or just because. Tonight is a "just because" kind of night!
  I would encourage you to prepare much of this in advance so your work is minimal in the few hours prior to dinner.


1 lb. ground beef, ground chicken, ground turkey, ground pork (or any combination of the four)
1/2 head cabbage
1 carrot
1/2 yellow onion
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
1 egg
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. freshly grated ginger
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
black pepper to taste
16-oz. pkg. wonton wrappers
canola oil for frying

Egg wash:
1 egg
2 tsp. milk

  Either spend the next hour of your life finely chopping the vegetables or do like I do and shred the cabbage and carrot using the grater attachment on your food processor.
  Finely dice the onion. The food processor turns this into a liquid mess so I recommend using a knife.
  Place all ingredients in a large bowl. Using your hands, gently combine everything just until it comes together (over-working can make your meat very tough).
  In a small bowl, whisk together egg and milk to make the egg wash.
  Place approximately twenty wonton wrappers on a clean counter (working in small batches prevents the remaining wrappers from drying out). Using a small cookie scoop or spoon, scoop about 1 1/2 tablespoons of meat mixture in the middle of each wrapper.
  Using a pastry brush or your finger, brush a small amount of egg wash on two adjoining sides of the wrapper. Fold wrapper corner to corner and press to seal. Place gyoza on a parchment-lined baking sheet just overlapping each other.
   Place approximately two tablespoons canola oil in a very large frying pan that is set over medium-high heat. Place enough gyoza in the pan to fill the pan but not over-crowd it. Fry about two minutes or until golden and crispy. Flip gyoza and fry two minutes more. Pour about two tablespoons hot water into the frying pan and immediately cover with a lid. Steam two minutes. Serve with dipping sauce.

Gyoza Dipping Sauce:
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. water
1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
4 tsp. sugar

  Whisk together sauce ingredients and serve at room temperature.

  -Gyoza may be made the morning of your dinner and stored on the baking sheets in the fridge until ready to cook. However, DO NOT under any circumstances cover the gyoza with plastic wrap or anything of the sort. Covering the gyoza will cause them to become a mushy mess and you will be incredibly upset after all the work you just put into these delicious little beauties!
  -As the gyoza complete the cooking process we place them in a large oven-safe serving dish in a warm oven so everyone can sit down to enjoy the meal together and no one person is left standing at the stove cooking. 

Ham Fried Rice

6 Tbsp. canola oil
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 c. white, long-grain rice, cooked and chilled
1 chopped green onion
4 oz. ham, diced
1 c. any combination: peas, broccoli, sugar snap peas, carrots
1/3 c. soy sauce
2 tsp. chicken bouillon
2 tsp. granulated sugar

  Combine soy sauce, chicken bouillon and sugar in a small bowl.
  Place two tablespoons oil in a wok or very large frying pan set over medium-high heat and heat almost to smoking. Add beaten egg and quickly fry, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon (I have a wooden spatula that works beautifully for stir-frying). Remove from pan.
  Pour remaining oil in pan and heat again almost to smoking. Add rice and fry three minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Add remaining ingredients (except egg) and heat through, stirring constantly. Add egg and heat through.

  Note: This dish may be made as early in advance as the night before and then reheated before serving.

Hunan Chicken Salad
(This is my version of a local restaurant's salad, which we absolutely love!)

1/2 head lettuce, shredded
1 cooked chicken breast, shredded
1 c. Maifun rice sticks (or other similar rice noodle)
2 Tbsp. finely chopped peanuts
2 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 1/4 tsp. prepared Chinese hot mustard
1 1/4 tsp. prepared Japanese wasabi
dash garlic powder
2 tsp. water
1/4 tsp. salt
canola oil for frying

  Combine sesame oil, hot mustard, wasabi, garlic powder and water in a small bowl.
  Heat canola oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until very hot. Place rice sticks in oil; they will puff up immediately. Flip noodles with tongs and continue cooking until they quit puffing and you can see that all noodles have cooked. Remove to paper towels.
  Just before serving, assemble all ingredients in a large serving bowl and toss to combine.