This weekend I took my very first cooking class at ICE (Institute of Culinary Education). The morning of class I packed up my snack, notepad and pen, kissed the kids goodbye and off to school I went. I don’t know which I was more excited for, the class or the childfree time I would be spending on the train into the city. Thirty-five whole minutes to read a magazine with no one asking me “Are we there yet?”
Of course, like any other kid just starting school, I wanted to have a friend in class so I recruited my buddy Candice to sign up with me. If there is one thing we both love, it’s dim sum, so when I saw this course become available I immediately put us down for the last two slots.
Class started with a meeting led by our chef/instructor to go over ingredients and basic kitchen rules. After that we broke off into teams to tackle the ambitious menu that we would be preparing that day. Candice and I volunteered to start some pork bun dough while the rest of our group began dicing.
Things started leisurely but as the hours passed and our hunger increased the pace in the kitchen got a bit more frenetic. Everyone jumped in where they could to get it all done because we were all starving! Since Candice and I were stuck in our own little world of pot stickers and pork buns I am not too sure what went on in the rest of the kitchen. Somehow our nine-course meal got completed and it was time to eat the fruits of our labor.
The pot stickers were overdone, the pork bun dough ended up slightly raw, the spareribs that we so lovingly basted ended up burning, the hoisin meatballs were dry, and the custard tart was all crust and hardly any custard. I guess there were literally too many cooks in the kitchen. Despite the questionable culinary results, we all dug into our feast as if we were eating a five-star dinner at Jean Georges.
All in all, it was a great day and I can’t wait to get my ICE apron on again soon! In the meantime, I am going to try and recreate the pot stickers for my own little sous chefs and see how it goes.
Vegetable Pot Stickers
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp julienned ginger
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp Chinese chili paste (optional)
Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
1 Tbsp sesame oil
2 cups chopped cabbage
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped carrot
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp white pepper (or black pepper is fine)
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 package wonton wrappers (round or square will work)
2 Tbsp water
Heat sesame oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add cabbage, onions, and carrots. Cook, stirring frequently, until cabbage is wilted. Mix in egg and cook until no longer runny. Add fish sauce and pepper and cook an additional minute. Remove from heat.
To assemble the pot stickers, first moisten the edges with warm water. Place approximately 1 tablespoon of the vegetable mixture on the top portion of the wonton wrapper.
Fold the wrapper in half over the filling and seal edges. Work from the middle out to the edge, pushing down to seal. This way the air will be removed and the pot stickers will hold together.
Crimp up the edges of the wonton, you don’t have to be fancy here! This will help the filling stay in the dumpling.
Preheat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Cook pot stickers approximately 1 minute per side, until lightly browned. Place water into the skillet and reduce heat. Cover and allow the pot stickers to steam until water is gone.
Serve immediately with dipping sauce. Fingers are encouraged but chopsticks work well too!
And the VERDICT is:
Matthew (age 6): “These are not like at the Chinese restaurant”
Dylan (age 4): “Sauce is not good for you, right?”
Liam (age 4): “Don’t like the inning”
Tougher than the critics at the NYTimes… In my opinion, these came out amazing and a lot better than our local Chinese restaurant!