In case you missed The Los Angeles Times writer/author/ethnic-eats guru Jonathan Gold’s recent article about dumplings in Chinatown, read. The Lunar New Year begins February 8. While you may or may never achieve the delicate balance of soup inside a handmade dumpling made famous by the restaurant Din Tai Fung that Gold profiles, you can for sure bust out some tasty potstickers and saucy scallion pancakes. What’s the difference between a potsticker and a gyoza, you may wonder? Voila. Los Angeles has an old-school Chinatown replete with pagodas and a wishing well where my family has tossed coins for many years. Nearby is Little Tokyo, with sushi, shabu-shabu and lots of Hello Kitty finery. It borders LA’s flower market, the vast wholesale Produce Market and the newly thriving Central Market, an urban food-stall center catering to hipsters, downtown workers and visitors. But the real Chinese culinary hotspot in LA is the San Gabriel Valley, a suburb of LA and home to the highest number noodle houses, seafood markets, Pho shops, dim sum palaces and herb stalls outside of Asia. Here’s a trailer for the documentary on Jonathan Gold “City of Gold” where you’ll learn all kinds of cool stuff about food and culture.
Recipe for Scallion Pancakes
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons sesame oil
1 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon hot sauce
2 Tablespoons softened butter
1/2 cup minced scallion greens (+ more for garnish)
1 cup peanut, or corn oil.
Stir the cake flour, salt and 2 Tablespoons sesame oil in a bowl to blend. Add the boiling water, butter and hot sauce and mix to a rough dough. Knead for 5 minutes by hand, or 2-3 minutes on an electric mixer fitted with the bread hook attachment. Cover with a wet cloth and rest for 20 minutes.
Roll the dough into a log (snake-style), then cut 16 pieces, then roll each on into a 4″ flat circle on surface dusted with flour. Fill the circle with scallions, roll them up (jelly roll style), then let them rest again for 20 minutes. Flatten them into 4″, very flat discs and fry them individually until golden brown. Serve as triangular slices (pizza style) with soy sauce.
Recipe for Potstickers:
1 package wonton skins (also known as wraps)
1/2 cup chopped kale
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup shredded cabbage (green)
1/4 – 1/2 cup chopped scallion or onion
2 cloves minced garlic
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 1/2 cup peanut, corn, safflower or canola oil
In a large bowl, mix together the kale, carrots, cabbage, scallion, soy sauce, hot sauce and egg. Spoon 1 large Tablespoon onto a wonton wrapper, fold it over and seal the sides by pinching them together (with slightly wet fingers) or press the edges together with a fork. Heat the oil in a large skillet and fry potstickers until golden brown on one or both sides. Drain on a paper towel. Serve hot with rice wine vinegar and soy sauce.
Recipe for Vegetable Dumplings:
My Chinese New Year Resolution:
Eat Asian food, drink Asian beer & visit flower market … more often.