Wednesday, January 25, 2006

New Year Dumpling Delight with Soy-Garlic Dipping Sauce and Baked Nian-Gao (Chinese New Year Cake)

Dumplings are a wonderful Chinese New Year dish. The following dish comes from the pages of "D is for Dragon Dance"" (Holiday House, 2006), Ying Chang Compostine newest picture book for children.

Chinese New year and Chinese Spring Festival

New Year Dumpling Delight with Soy-Garlic Dipping Sauce

For dipping sauce:

1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 teaspoons sesame oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons green onion, minced

For dumpling filling:

10 ounces ground pork or beef

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced

1 cup leeks, white part only, minced

4 large Napa cabbage leaves, stems removed and discarded and leaves chopped

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1/2 tablespoon sesame oil

Salt and pepper to taste

2 large, thick carrots, peeled and cut into thin disks

40 square wonton wrappers

2 tablespoons canola oil, divided

1/2 cup water, divided

Combine the dipping sauce ingredients in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate, allowing the flavors to blend as you make the dumplings.

Combine the dumpling ingredients in one large bowl. Mix well.

If you don't have a steamer, try this dumpling-cooking technique that makes use of everyday equipment: Select a plate that will fit atop a small, heat-proof bowl set inside your lidded skillet or pan. Arrange several carrot slices on the plate. Set aside.

To form the wontons, work with one wrapper at a time, keeping the others covered with a damp towel to prevent them from drying out. There are many methods for moistening the wrappers before filling them: Compestine likes to pour water into a ramekin or other small dish, then dip each of the four corners of each wrapper into the dish before proceeding.

Place a moistened wrapper in the palm of one hand and use the other to scoop 1 1/2 teaspoons of the meat mixture into the center of the wrapper. Bring the moistened corners together to form a teardrop-shaped dumpling. Place the dumpling atop one of the carrot slices and repeat until you have enough dumplings to cover the plate, but not so many that the dumplings are touching each other.

Combine 1 tablespoon of the canola oil with 1/4 cup of the water in a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Place the plate of dumplings inside and cover. Cook, without disturbing, for 8 to 10 minutes or until dumplings puff up and start to turn translucent. Repeat with remaining canola oil, remaining water and dumplings. Serve immediately with dipping sauce.

Makes 40 dumplings. Note: The filling may be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator for up to two days, or in the freezer for up to two weeks.

Mango-Ginger Salsa
1 large, ripe mango, peeled, pitted and cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 small red onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon Maggi Taste of Asia Chili Garlic Sauce or similar product

2 teaspoons ginger, peeled and finely chopped

1 teaspoon Maggi Seasoning Sauce or similar product

Combine the mango, onion, basil, lemon juice, chili-garlic sauce, ginger and seasoning sauce in a medium bowl.

Cover and refrigerate until use, up to two days.

Baked rather than steamed, this cake features a slightly sticky texture that is best experienced when still warm. The recipe comes from "The Runaway Rice Cake,"" one of Compestine's books for children.

Baked Nian-Gao (Chinese New Year Cake)

1 pound glutinous rice flour, also called sweet rice flour, available at ethnic and gourmet markets

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 cup raisins or other dried fruits

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

3 eggs

3/4 cup canola or vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine the rice flour, sugar, baking powder, raisins and nuts in a large mixer bowl. Mix thoroughly.

Beat the eggs in a separate bowl. Add oil and water to the eggs. Stir.

Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture. Mix well.

Coat a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray. Pour in the batter.

Bake for 40 minutes or until the cake has risen and a toothpick poked into the center comes out clean.

Papaya may be substituted for the mango.


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