Monday, March 7, 2011

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Originally posted 2/1/11

Gung Hay Fat Choy!  Yep, it’s almost Chinese New Year!  Thursday, February 3rd is the first day of a 15 day long celebration.  This year will be the year of the Rabbit.  Obviously, (well..”obviously” if you have seen me), I am not Chinese.  However, I am always up for a celebration….and I love Chinese food.  Before I go any further, and show you recipes and pictures….I need to tell you that this will not be “authentic” Chinese food.  This will be this little white girl’s version of dishes that my family loves.  Please don’t expect legit, ready to be served at a Chinese restaurant, food.  Will it be delicious?  Absolutely.  Will it be authentic?  Goodness no.  I apologize to my Chinese readers now;)
So let’s get started because this will be a long one;)  The first recipe I want to show you is pork wontons.  We have talked about my love of all things related to appetizers many times, and Chinese appetizers are no different.  Egg rolls, pot stickers, crab Rangoon, wontons, etc.  I usually fill up on those and can’t even eat dinner.  Back to the wontons…..They are actually easy to make.  I wouldn’t be making them on a typical Monday night or anything, but if you have the time, they are fun and easy to make.
I start with one package of ground pork.  The packages are usually about 1 pound to 1 and ½ pounds.  Don’t get ground pork sausage…totally different thing all together.
I also used 1 package of broccoli slaw (available by the salads), fresh ginger, onion, water chestnuts, (the kind that come in a can, sliced), soy sauce, minced garlic and sesame oil.  Of course, I also use wonton wrappers, but those didn’t make the picture;)
I start by browning the ground pork in a large pan. This picture looks like I am browning worms, but really….that wasn’t the case.  It was pork.  Once the pork is browned, I transfer it to a bowl, but leave the drippings in the pan.
I chopped the onion and fresh garlic into little pieces.  I just wanted to make them smaller, but the size and uniformity doesn’t really matter because they will get a turn in the food processor later.
Fresh ginger is so much better then the powdered variety and actually really easy to keep on hand because it freezes very well.  I used about a 2 inch piece that I peeled with the side of a spoon.  When you are using a defrosted piece, the peel slips right off.
I tossed the onion, garlic, and ginger into the pan that I had cooked the pork in, with the sesame oil.  I sautéed it for a few minutes, just to soften the onion.
One the onion was soft, I added the bag of broccoli slaw.  I love this stuff.  It is broccoli, carrots and some cabbage, usually.  I sautéed that for a few more minutes, then added the soy sauce and water chestnuts.  I cooked it just long enough to heat the water chestnuts a bit.  I added this mixture to the bowl of cooked pork.
I like to throw it in the food processor just to make everything a bit smaller.  This will make it easier to fill the wontons, but if you don’t have a food processor, no big deal.  You can still make it work.  I just use the “pulse” button; I don’t actually press the “on” button.  I don’t want to make a paste….I just want to make the veggies the same size as the meat.
I used round wonton wrappers that are available at any grocery store, usually in the produce, by the salads.  Keep them in the fridge right up until you are ready to stuff.  Take a small pile out and keep them under a damp towel.  You will be doing one at a time, so the other guys need to stay damp.  If these suckers dry out, you have no chance of making pretty wontons.
I stuff the wrappers with a spoonful of filling, and then seal them with a bit of water.  I kept a bowl of water by me as I worked.  One they are stuffed, and ready to be fried, keep them under another damp towel.  Damp towels all over the place!
I filled a big pot up with plain vegetable oil.  Do not use olive oil.  Not only would that be crazy expensive, you need unflavored oil and olive oil is not unflavored.  Vegetable or Canola oil works best.  Or peanut oil if you happen to have that.  This will be a “deep” fry, so you need a lot of oil.
I drop the wontons in, about 4 at a time, into the oil that has been pre-heated to about 350 degrees.  I cook them about 1 to 2 minutes each side, just until browned.  Then, they need to be set on paper towels to drain off the excess oil.
So yes, this is time consuming, but these are so delicious that you won’t even mind.  And they really are something special to make for a special occasion;)  But be warned…this recipe makes a ton!  If you are just cooking for your family, consider cutting the recipe in half.

My next recipe is for Orange Chicken.  My family LOVES the Orange Chicken from Panda Express.  Doesn’t everyone?  I tried to replicate the recipe at home.  I start with frozen popcorn chicken……remember, I already warned you this wasn’t authentic!  This is my quick and easy version!!  So laugh it up, if you must, but yes, I use frozen popcorn chicken.  While the wontons were a bit time consuming, this recipe is not, and it is a super fast dinner you can make on your busiest of nights.
I bake the chicken according to the package directions.  Are you still laughing that I use popcorn chicken?  Knock it off.
I also use broccoli, minced garlic, minced fresh ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, Sriracha hot sauce and orange marmalade.  The orange marmalade works perfectly because the texture of it produces a thick sauce and the orange peel gives it a great flavor.
I sauté the garlic and ginger in a bit of sesame oil, just for a minute or two.  I don’t want to brown it; I just really want to flavor the oil.
I add the broccoli and stir that around in the garlic, ginger, and sesame oil.  I add a couple of tablespoons of water and slap a lid on it.  I let the broccoli cook for about 2 minutes, with the lid on.  While this is cooking, I make the sauce.
The sauce is orange marmalade, soy sauce and the hot sauce.  I use about a tablespoon of Sriracha (found in the Asian food aisle), but you can use more or less, depending on your family’s preference.  I stir these 3 things together, just until combined.
I add the cooked chicken to the pan, and then pour on the sauce and mix.  Voila-easy Orange Chicken.  Seriously, so easy….and so yummy!
I think Chinese New Year is the perfect excuse to make Chinese Food!  Or like I said above….This little white girl’s version of Chinese Food;)

Pork Wontons
1 package ground pork
1 bag broccoli slaw (12 ounces)
1 small onion, chopped
1  2 inch piece fresh ginger, chopped
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1  8 ounce can water chestnuts, chopped
Wonton wrappers
Oil for frying

Preheat oil, about 4 inches deep, in large pot. 
Brown ground pork, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Set aside.  In same pan, add sesame oil, onion, ginger and garlic.  Sauté about 2 minutes, or until onion is softened.  Add broccoli slaw and soy sauce; continue to sauté about 3 more minutes.  Add water chestnuts and cook additional minute.  Add veggie mixture to cooked meat.
Add mixture to food processor and “pulse” about 5 times.
Stuff wonton wrappers, one at a time, with about 1 tablespoon of filling.  Seal edges with water.
Deep fry, in pre-heated oil, about 1 to 2 minutes per side or until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.

Orange Chicken and Broccoli
1  23 ounce bag frozen popcorn chicken
12 ounces fresh broccoli
2 Tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
1 Tablespoon fresh garlic, minced
1 cup orange marmalade
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 Tablespoon Sriricha hot sauce
1 Tablespoon sesame oil

Bake popcorn chicken according to package directions.
Add sesame oil to large skillet or wok.  Add garlic and ginger.  Sauté for about 1 minute.  Add broccoli and mix.  Add 2 tablespoons of water and put a lid on pan.  Cook, covered, about 3 minutes.
While broccoli is cooking, stir together marmalade, soy and Sriracha in a bowl.  Add chicken and sauce to cooked broccoli and mix well.  Serve over rice.

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