Chinese Cucumbers

I hope everyone had a great Mother’s Day Weekend and a lovely Monday. I have another recipe from my mother-in-law to share today – Chinese Cucumbers. These are so easy and so yummy. My kids love them as a snack or as a side with lunch.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 big ol’ cucumber
  • 1 mixing bowl with lid or tupperware container with lid

Directions:

Peel the cucumber and using a mandolin or sharp knife, slice the cucumber into thin circles.

Place your cucumber slices in a bowl or tupperware container and pour in your soy sauce, vinegar and sesame oil. Pop on the lid and shake to coat the cucumbers (you can just stir the cucumbers with the sauce, but that’s not nearly as fun.)

All done! Super easy and super yummy. Feel free to add hot sauce or ginger for a little extra zing (though the vinegar makes it pretty “zingy” already.)

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Gyoza (a.k.a. Pot Stickers)

My mother-in-law is the sweetest, most generous little Chinese woman you would ever want to meet. She’s also got a green thumb. She’s one of those folks that can buy any old tomato at the grocery store, eat half, stick one of the seeds in a jar of dirt on her window sill, and have beautiful, lush tomatoes for the rest of the summer.

Needless to say, she is also a great cook. Not only does she craft wonderful traditional Chinese food in her kitchen, but she makes a mean lasagna, too! I’m always a little intimidated when attempting one of her tried and true recipes in my own kitchen, but she has been kind enough to tutor me through the process of several of her old standbys, which also happen to be my hubberman’s favorites. Yesterday, I finally tackled her gyoza recipe for the first time. Yes, it only took me, like, 5 YEARS from when she taught me the process to muster up the courage to try it myself. Thankfully, they turned out great. Here’s the recipe. Warning – this is one of those “pinch of this,” “bit of that” recipes that allows you a little bit of latitude with the ingredients. Just go with it, it’s worth it!

Ingredients

1 package wonton wrappers
1 lb. fresh ground pork
3-4 finely chopped green onions
3-4 finely chopped sprigs of fresh parsley (my addition)
2 cups finely chopped napa cabbage
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
salt and pepper
flour and water

soy sauce
rice vinegar
hot sauce
sesame oil
(all to taste)

Instructions

1.  In a mixer or by hand, thoroughly mix pork with the onions, parsley and cabbage. You will want to make sure your cabbage and parsley are completely dry prior to mixing so your mixture doesn’t get too loose or moist. Add about three pinches of salt and a few generous grinds of black pepper.

2. Make a thick mixture of flour and water. The consistency should be like Elmer’s glue, and smooth, not lumpy.

3. Take your wrapper and place a small amount of your flour “glue” around the edge of 1/2 of the wrapper.

4. Place a heaping tsp. of your pork mixture in the center of the wrapper. Don’t put too much or it will tear the wrapper.

5. Carefully fold your wrapper in half over the pork mixture, crimping your edges together with little folds all the way around. Make certain that your edges are making contact with your flour “glue.”

6. Continue this process with all your wrappers, keeping the gyoza that are ready under a wet paper towel to prevent them from drying out. When you near the end of your pork supply, place a large pot of water on to boil.

7. Add your gyoza in small batches to your boiling water (I found that 7 at a time worked best) and boil according to your wrappers’ instructions. Mine said 5 minutes and that seemed perfect. You don’t want to overcook, or the wrapper will fall apart.

8. While your first batch is boiling, heat 3 tbsp (I ended up using more than this) of oil in a large frying pan. Once 5 minutes has past, carefully transfer your gyoza one by one from the pot to the pan using a strainer spoon so you don’t get oil/water splatter. Ouch.

9. Fry your gyoza until they are lightly browned and crispy. I found it helped to move them around gently in the pan, lest they live up to their “pot sticker” nickname! Don’t overcrowd your pan, or they will also stick to each other. While you are frying your first batch, you can start your second batch in the water, and so on until you have worked through them all.

For your dipping sauce, you can use a store bought sauce, or simply dip them in soy sauce and call it a day.  We like to combine soy sauce, vinegar, hot sauce and sesame oil to taste and dip them in that. Yummo!

And in case you don’t believe my delay in preparing these little guys, here’s a scrapbook page I made from our gyoza tutoring session, back in 2007! Glad I finally worked up the nerve to tackle these little pot stickers!