I have (shall we say) a weakness for greasy Chinese food. I've spent far too many cheat-meals this year on feasts of crab rangoon and fried rice, inhaling that pungent bouquet of fry oil and MSG. So I figured it was high time I learned to cook a whole foods approximation.
And, as I imagine happens with so many strokes of genius in the world, this particular masterpiece came into life on an otherwise perfectly ordinary Saturday night.
That's pot stickers with a sweet chili dipping sauce, and a huge pile of zucchini lo mein.
I discovered the pot sticker recipe idly watching Guy's Big Bite instead of reading for Federal Jurisdiction. If you don't mind a couple steps, they really are remarkable simple, and taste just like the best dim sum you ever had.
For the stuffing: chop two green onions and two cloves of garlic. Mix with a pound of ground pork, a pinch of salt, a splash each of soy sauce, sesame oil, and red chili sauce. Note: if you're trying to do this whole foods style, it may take some searching to find a soy sauce that doesn't contain things like caramel color #4. Interestingly, though, the little packets that come with your take-out only contain soy oil and water.
After mixing the stuffing, beat one egg with a splash of milk to make an egg wash. Take a pre-made won ton wrapper (with a little searching, I found some at Whole Foods that didn't have any strange ingredients), and coat one side of the wrapper with the wash. This will keep the pot stickers from unfolding themselves and spewing out stuffing as they cook.
Put a pinch of stuffing on the egg-washed side of the potsticker, then crimp the edges to fold it shut.
Stage one of the cooking process is a boiling water bath. Throw the pot stickers in for just one minute.
You can eat them after boiling alone -- they're fully cooked -- but to put the amazing crisp edges on them, you're going to need to go on to step two: the fry pan.
You don't need much oil in the pan, but what's in there should be sizzling. Let the pot stickers fry, flipping them occasionally, until they're golden and a little crisp on each side.
I made an incredibly easy sweet chili dipping sauce to go with them from a combination of soy sauce, chili sauce, and honey to taste. And I know that sounds like a lot of steps for these little guys, and I guess it was, but oh, sweet heaven, they came out absolutely amazing.
We paired them with an easy lo mein recipe using the same ingredients in different proportions. I match-sticked a zucchini and boiled it with some soba noodles I found at whole foods -- the whole thing cooks in less than five minutes. I cooled it with a cold water rinse, then tossed with the sesame oil, soy sauce, and chili sauce.
People, the greatest thing about this whole foods regimen have been these unexpected, restaurant-quality ethnic masterpieces. If I'd never set out on this journey, I would have continued ordering greasy take-out my entire life ...
INSTEAD I'M MAKING IT MYSELF.