Chinese Dumpling Ravioli with Soy-Cream Pan Sauce

Whoever first called them dumplings is a visionary – because the name dumpling sounds exactly like what they are. A cute little pasta package with filling. Adorable.

Dumplings are the broad term used to describe any dough-filled pocket that can be prepared in many ways – fried, steamed, stewed, fire-grilled – you name it.

Ones that come to mind are empanadas, tortellini or ravioli, pierogis and mandu. An understandably universal culinary concept, every culture has their own version of a protein or vegetable filled dough pocket.

I worship the filling inside Chinese takeout meat dumplings – always have. When it came time to put in requests for our family’s go-to takeout order, you could always count on me ordering wonton soup and dumplings.

This graduated to include crab rangoon, an upgrade to hot and sour soup in place of wonton soup, and some extra, extra hot General Tso’s chicken. “And don’t forget one of those mini containers of spicy mustard!”, I’d annoyingly yell to my parents mid-order.

When I imagined this dish, I knew I wanted to try a meat-filled dumpling. But what about the sauce?

I couldn’t recall every having a soy sauce-flavored cream sauce before. I doubted there was any way it wouldn’t go great with the ravioli, and I was right. Soy sauce is inherently buttery flavor-wise, as is the cream and actual butter that serves as the base of the sauce.

It was extremely good. Just like the no dairy with seafood rule, I can’t think of many dairy-heavy dishes in American-style Chinese takeout. But low and behold – it works incredibly well here.

The most daunting task will be rolling out the pasta, without a pasta maker. Which if you are in the same boat as me, is what you’ll have to do here.

It all turned out OK. The world didn’t end. And of course, rolling it out by hand contributed to a rustic appearance and heartier bite of the homemade pasta. I’m cutting myself some slack here as should you – I’ve only ever made homemade pasta in a cooking class, but do make gnocchi relatively frequently at home.

The Asian condiments used in the pan sauce are the same as those used to flavor the ground pork and mushrooms in the filling, so the dish tastes relatively uniform throughout. I toyed with the idea of adding parmesan cheese or ricotta to the filling, but ended up leaving it out. I bet it would have been even more delicious with a little dollop of cheese folded in. If you do, let me know how it tastes!

I know I’ll be making this dish again, because my boyfriend was cooing as he was eating it. However, by the time that rolls around, I hope I will have purchased a pasta maker attachment to make this pasta rolling task a bit easier. 😊

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2.

F o r  t h e  P a s t a  D o u g h

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Flour, as needed
  • Water, as needed

F o r  t h e  F i l l i n g

  • 1 / 4 lb. ground pork
  • 1 scallion stalk, sliced
  • 4 large button mushrooms, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon mirin
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon hot sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper

F o r  t h e  S o y – C r e a m  P a n  S a u c e

  • 1 / 2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon hot sesame oil, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 scallion stalk, sliced
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Prepare the pasta dough. Sift and combine the flour and salt. Pour onto a hard, cold surface, creating a well in the center. Crack the three eggs in the middle of the flour pile, and fold using your hands until combined. Once in a dough ball, knead 10 times until the consistency is silky. If the dough is too hard and not elastic, add some water. If it is too sticky, add some flour. Place the dough in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to allow it to rest.
  2. Heat the teaspoon of olive oil in a small skillet, and add all the filling ingredients. Sautee until the pork is completely cooked through, and the mushrooms are browned. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. Once the dough has had a chance to rest, remove it from the fridge and begin rolling out with a floured rolling pin on a floured surface. Continue to roll out until the dough is less than 1 / 8 inch thick.
  4. Using a ramekin or other small circular dish, create imprints on the dough, and cut out 20 circles, enough for 10 ravioli total.
  5. Place 1 to 1 1 / 2 teaspoon of the filling on one side of each ravioli dough halve, and pinch the sides together moving in a circular fashion until all the raviolis are enclosed with the filling. Set aside.
  6. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. In a separate large and shallow skillet, melt the butter, then add the rest of the soy-cream pan sauce ingredients. Let the sauce come to a low boil and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat.
  7. Add the ravioli to the pot, and cook for 5 – 7 minutes until the pasta is tender. Remove the ravioli from the pasta with a slotted spoon and put it directly into the pan sauce.
  8. Plate the ravioli, garnishing with extra scallions and hot sesame oil.
  9. Final step – enjoy this way too much. 😉

Hack-&-Eat Crabs (Done the Maryland Way)

The state of Maryland should open a crab-themed theme park, funded by taxpayers. That’s how much we like crabs. I’m thinking a crab rollercoaster where riders sit sideways. Crab-flavored cotton candy.  A ball pit filled with live crabs for children.

My sister’s boyfriend’s family has a bay house where they pig out on crabs as often as possible, with obligatory pitchers of Bud Light.

For my birthday he gave me a big freezer bag full of crabs with…

Happy Bday

-Billy

…written in pen on the bag. My boyfriend and I sat there destroying these guys with mallets, eating them ice cold from the fridge, doused with copious amounts of Old Bay-seasoned melted butter. We were also probably a little drunk at that point.

In my all white, pristine apartment. Don’t do what I did.

Summer is coming up. And to that end, here are some recommendations for a crabby extravaganza!

That yellow bile you get when you break the crab in half is godly. Suck the juice out every claw (leg?) you pull off at the joint. You can eat the shell of some of these softer appendages, if you’re also a fan of eating the tails off of shrimp (a-la shrimp cocktail).

Here’s a short video showing how to correctly dismantle the body.

Serve these with beers poured from pitchers into pre-chilled beer mugs. List of Maryland-based brews here.

Eat outside because, please. If you live in a city like I do, I would probably find a wooden table at a nearby park.

You only really need mallets and tiny forks for meat retrieval. I never end up using the shellfish crackers. Put newspaper or some kind of durable paper down before you heave them across the table steaming hot out of the pot.

Put lots of melted butter, lemon wedges (for masking post-crab eating finger smells), malt vinegar, hot sauce, cocktail sauce and old bay on the table. Don’t forget the paper towel rolls either, or the big bowl for shells and carcasses.

And then, prepare to get flecks of crab shell in your hair, folks.

To quote a scene from Wedding Crashers, a ground-breaking motion picture that forever redefined film in America –

*bro catches touchdown pass*

Crabcakes and football, that’s what Maryland DOES!

I N G R E D I E N T S

The recommended amount of crabs to serve per person is anywhere from 8 to 12. A bushel is 7 to 8 dozen blue crabs. The recipe below would serve 4 people, so adjust accordingly when you order the crabs.

  • 1 / 2 bushel live Maryland blue crabs (approximately 48 crabs)
  • 3 lemons, halved
  • 4 -7 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning, plus additional for sprinkling after being boiled
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 sticks melted, clarified butter*
  • Enough water to fill the pot 2 / 3 of the way full

*To clarify butter, put the desired amount of butter in a shallow saucepan and melt until the solids separate from the golden liquid beneath, and with a large shallow spoon, remove the fat solids from the top. Reserve the remaining liquid.

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Fill a 6 quart pot with water 2 / 3 of the way full. Add 2 tablespoons of salt, the lemon halves, and 4 tablespoons of Old Bay seasoning to the pot, adding an additional 1 tablespoon with each new batch of 12 crabs that’s added.
  2. Submerge the 12 live crabs in the water, one by one, making sure to keep the claws intact.
  3. Cook each batch for 10 minutes.
  4. Once cooked, carefully remove the crabs with tongs to a very big bowl or several large bowls (whatever you have on hand), sprinkling with additional Old Bay seasoning as you finish each batch.
  5. Serve immediately with the clarified butter and optional Old Bay seasoning, malt vinegar, hot sauce and cocktail sauce, as desired.

O P T I O N A L

  • Old Bay seasoning
  • Malt vinegar
  • Tabasco Hot Sauce
  • 2 lemons, quartered
  • Bottled cocktail sauce*

*If you prefer to make your own cocktail sauce, mix 2 parts ketchup to 1 part prepared horseradish. Add a squeeze of lemon juice or Tabasco sauce for an extra kick.

 

 

 

Pearl Diver’s Oysters

There are few food-related experiences more blissful than slurping a clean, ice-cold oyster.

Oysters have that mysterious, pearl-producing, hand-collected by island-dwelling natives who dive to the ocean floor holding their breath for 1 hour underwater-thing going on. All the best foods are the ones that play hard-to-get, or make you wait literally years for them. Think about it.

This led me to confirm whether or not there are people who still pearl dive, and yes there are, but it’s less risky nowadays. Lame. I guess not everyone can be as badass as that guy Kino from The Pearl.  Remember that book?

Speaking of badass, let’s learn how to properly shuck an oyster together, which you will need to do for this recipe. I found this video helpful as a shucking amateur. You will need to buy an oyster knife too, so add one to your cart in your next Amazon order.

In terms of sourcing the oysters, you either 1) have a dedicated fish market that you know supplies superbly fresh oysters on a regular basis 2) only have access to a hit-or-miss market that may or may not stock satisfactory shellfish 3) are willing, financially or otherwise, to order oysters online.

I fall somewhere between camps 1 and 2 – so I elected to buy them at a good local seafood market. One note on ordering oysters online. It’s unexpectedly highly recommended over taking a risk of purchasing or storing the sub-par stuff.

I will not pretend to preach expertise on different varietals of oysters, ever.

There are upwards of 150 distinct types harvested in North America alone distinguished by where they are sourced on a highly local level. This recipe calls for the variety or varieties you prefer, with a huge emphasis on whatever is freshest available to you.

And of course, get a bunch of types too, if you’d like. If you’re limited to U.S. varieties, on average, West coast oysters tend to be smaller and sweeter, while East coast oysters tend to be larger and slightly brinier (and dare I say, funkier).

So here’s a homage to the sinisterly delicious oyster.

Us devotees thank you for existing.

I N G R E D I E N T S

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Always mise en place, folks!

Serves 2 – 4 as an appetizer, depending on appetites.

  • 1 – 2 dozen fresh oysters in their shell, variety of your choosing *
  • 3 fresh sea scallops, or 6 fresh bay scallops
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium-sized shallot, minced
  • 10-12 sprigs of fresh dill, minced
  • 2-3 large lemons (enough to produce 4 tablespoons of juice, saving enough lemon fruit to squeeze 1 – 2 tablespoons of juice for finishing)
  • 1 / 4 cup high-quality, very dry Champagne or Pinot Grigio
  • 1 / 4 tsp sugar
  • 1 teaspoon red, white wine or champagne vinegar
  • Pinch of Kosher salt
  • Pinch of Maldon salt or another good-quality finishing salt

*Adjust according to the size of the oysters – the oyster estimate is based off of a “medium” sized oyster, or an oyster with a shell approximately 2 and ½ inches in diameter.

O p t i o n a l

  • 1 / 2 lb cup uncooked pearl couscous
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted or salted butter

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Shuck the oysters carefully, and place the meat in a small bowl. Pour any excess liquid from the oysters into a separate small bowl. Reserve half the oyster shells for plating the final dish.
  2. Cut each oyster in half crosswise. Small dice the fresh scallops in a similar size to the fresh oysters and add to the bowl with the oysters. Put the shellfish meat in the fridge.
  3. In a small sauté pan, heat the oil, and add the minced shallot, sautéing on medium-low heat for 5 or so minutes until heavily reduced and the shallot is transparent, making sure that the shallot does not brown.
  4. Add 4 tablespoons of the lemon juice to the pan, the 1 / 4 cup Champagne or Pinot Grigio, the reserved liquid from the oysters, a pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon vinegar and 1 / 4 teaspoon of sugar.
  5. Simmer for 7-9 minutes longer on low heat, allowing the liquid to reduce by about half.
  6. Off the heat, take half of the minced dill and add it to the vinaigrette.
  7. Allow the vinaigrette to cool, about 10 minutes.
  8. Once cooled, pour the vinaigrette over the raw oysters and scallops. Mix well.
  9. Place the mixture in the fridge for 10 minutes to chill. After ten minutes, remove the shellfish mixture, stir, and return to the fridge to chill for an additional 10 minutes.
  10. In the meantime, take the reserved oyster shells and place them on a bed of crushed ice, preferably in a wide, shallow metal pan, such as a paella serving dish.
  11. Take 1 tablespoon of the combined shellfish mixture and place in each of the reserved oyster shells. Sprinkle the shells with the remaining dill, lemon juice, and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
  12. Serve with cooked pearl couscous mixed with melted butter on the side, if desired as a palate cleanser.