Oct 292011

It’s truly snowing in New York City… in October…

I remember when I was little, all dressed up for Halloween in a princess or angel costume, and my mom made me wear a light jacket or sweatpants over my outfit because there was a chill in the air.  When I was older and went trick or treating with friends, I’d opt to go without the jacket and just be a bit cold.  This year, it’s literally snowing outside two days before Halloween.

I can envision trick-or-treaters in parkas and snow boots, costumes completely hidden and unnecessary.

Yesterday, on my way home from work, I popped in Essex Street Market. I’d never been there because Mike told me it always smells like fish. Curiosity got the best of me and I ventured inside. Overwhelming fish stench; Yes, it definitely smells like fish.

I ran past the endless counters of fish, seeking refuge in the produce section. The prices didn’t seem any better than Keyfood or East Village farms. But, wait! There were sets of veggies wrapped and labelled “$1.00” because there was an excess in the last shipment. I’ll take it! I grabbed some veg for snacks, looked around for some pre-made dumpling sauce (I am in love with Ling Ling dumpling sauce that comes with the potstickers I used to eat by the sackful and wish I had a bottle of it) but alas, I couldn’t find any. I checked out  and I was on my merry way.

Since seeing this 101 cookbooks recipe earlier in the month, I have been curious how difficult it would be to make dumplings. It’s been a month of dumpling-filled dreams, and finally last night Mike and I gave them a try. Earlier in the week I picked up some green onions, ginger, won ton wrappers and bok choy. A cute little cabbage Mike purchased also sat in the fridge. Next to the cabbage was a bowl of wet split peas.

A few things I learned about split peas:

  • The bag says to soak them. Websites say not to. I’m not sure what’s right.
  • They don’t hold their form when they’re cooking. That should have been fairly obvious because they are split and not covered in skin, yet it completely surprised me.
  • I shouldn’t have used so much water. I ended up with a thin pea broth that I had to boil for a crazy long time to reduce it down to a usable pea mush. Had I known they don’t cook like beans, I would have planned that better.
  • Peas make foam! A LOT of foam! I didn’t know what to do with it at first, and then I read that you should skim it off. The stove was covered in white froth, and the whole apartment smelled like peas.
  • I’m not so sure I enjoy cooking split peas.
After the peas were done, I got cracking on the rest of the recipe.  I modified the 101 cookbooks recipe by using green peas, added in cabbage, used red onions instead of shallots because we had a cut red onion in the fridge that I wanted to get out of there, and we used red pepper flakes heated in oil instead of serrano chilles for the sauce.  I admit it was a big project, but it was also pretty fun.
First up, chopping some scallions.

Make the scallion oil…

Set it aside, make the filling according to directions and mix in some sauteed cabbage. Grab your wrappers– I got these at Key Food. Octoberfest optional.

Fill up some wontons with a scoop of cabbage-pea mixture…

Leave them be for a triangular potsticker, or form them into a wonton-y shape.  I liked the triangles.

Pop them in a pan with a tiny bit of oil…

…fry until crispy on one side, flip if you want two crispy sides. Then add in 1/3 cup water (stand back, lots of hot steam right away!) and cover to steam a couple minutes. Pair with soy dipping sauce, scallion oil, and Mike’s garlic & ginger bok choy – ta da!

To use up all of the filling I made 12 dumplings for us to share, then another 10 for seconds, then filled and froze another 15 uncooked. I wish we had more bok choy or another healthy side so we wouldn’t have needed seconds, but it was our first try at dumplings so a little potsticker-overload is okay. The dumpling filling was a little bit sweet and mushy and almost pierogi-like, but it worked.  I think I want to look up some other fillings for next time, maybe something that cooks up a bit firmer.  I’m not sure, so I’ll give it more thought when I cook up the ones that are ready to go in the freezer.
Now it’s thunder-snowing. Happy Halloween!

Reader Comments

  1. I have to really commend you for all of the work that went into your dish. They really look beautiful. Oh, and that snow you are getting will be here before we know it. They are saying maybe as much as a foot. At least the snow from the day before has melted.

    1. Thanks! They were a time consuming dish, definitely not for a weeknight around here. That’s nutty- we’re supposed to get a few inches here in NYC, and it’s sticking in some places but only a little. It should all melt tomorrow.

  2. Do you remember the steamed vegetable wontons I used to make? I snuck tofu in them before you knew what tofu was…I made them not long ago and whipped up a great sauce, much like your beloved ling-ling sauce. Combine 1/2 cup soy sauce, 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil, 1 green onion (use the whole thing) thinly sliced, 1 tablespoon grated ginger, 1 clove finely minced garlic, 1 tablespoon honey (optional for sweetness) or red chili pepper flakes (optional for heat). Let it sit for a bit for the flavors to blend. I think you will like it.
    Stay warm!

    1. I do remember them. The sauce from 101 cookbooks was pretty good- I modified it a little. 1/4 cup low sodium soy, 1/4 cup water, 1 tablespoon sugar, about a tablespoon of the scallion oil with some red pepper flakes heated in it, and I put the tiniest smidge of sesame oil in it. I don’t like too much of it. I think your vinegar, garlic and ginger would be good additions, and swap the sugar for honey. I added the Ling Ling sauce to my Christmas wishlist… 🙂

  3. Since I am such a fan of your blog, I read all the way through this painful post…peas…thin pea broth…whole apartment smelled like peas. Oh, my. You can’t probably tell I don’t go near anything that’s been in the vicinity of peas. My mother says I spit out strained peas as an infant, so I’m not making this stuff up. But your enthusiasm for salvaging the split peas is commendable. You rock, Melissa.

    1. Oh no, sorry to make you suffer through the pea-filled post! I do like happy little peas in an orb form, especially with a pat of whipped butter. Split peas, not so much. I never liked the soup in the past, but always thought it was because of the ham. This recipe ended up making them a little nicer because of the cabbage and great sauce, but for my own taste I’d think twice before making a pea-based potsticker again. Thanks for reading all the way through!

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