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Something Old, Something New . . .

February 1, 2010

These days, when I cook on the weekends it’s all about learning something new. This past weekend, it involved something new and something I haven’t done in awhile.

The first cook I was ever exposed to was my dad. My mom, as I have  said – and will continue to say- is a terrible cook. It’s hard to swallow the stuff she makes. No really, it is. My dad, on the other hand, is good with food and I often have cravings for his cooking. Unfortunately, he chooses not to cook anymore since he lives most of the year in Vietnam and pays, on average, $3 each day for the wonderful offerings at the food stalls that saturate Saigon. Sigh.  So whenever I have a question about a recipe, I typically have to wait for the long drawn out explanations (this typically proceeds him saying, “You don’t need to learn how to make that. Just go uptown and buy.”). Getting the recipes out of him is more hard work than anyone could ever understand. It seems to run in the family as I get the same response from my aunts and uncles (his siblings). Sometimes I don’t have to ask because I can recall how he used to make Recipe XYZ. Shumai, fortunately enough, is one of those things.

I never really cared for the meat that was in the shumai like I cared for the won ton wrapper. After it  steams against the meat, the wrapper is moist, brothy-tasting (after stealing the juices from the meat) and just plain heavenly. Back in the day, Hung used to toss the ingredients together and I would assemble the shumai. It’s been a good 16 years since we’ve done that, so the meat mixture I came up with needs more tweaking. I have the basics though: white meat (I used ground turkey), minced onions, ginger, peas, pepper and salt (I under-salted this). The recipe was close but not good enough to post. But the soy-vinegar sauce, which we used to dip the shumai in, was delicious and I’m confident enough to share that recipe with you. Mmmm . . .

Soy-Vinegar Dipping Sauce

1/3 cup soy
1/3 cup white vinegar (I believe rice vinegar is the right thing to use, but white works just as well)
1-2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/4 cup of green onions, chopped

Throw all ingredients in bowl and whisk away. Dip as you please. (Try not to drink this like it’s soup. It’s a weird habit and people may stare. I’m just saying . . . )

As I said, I let 16 years pass since making sshumai and I admit, making it was a little on the random side. Sort of.

Last Friday, my coworker and I deemed it Samosa Friday (we were both craving it). I stuffed myself silly with two samosas (that’s all it takes) and took the extras home for The Boy. The green coriander chutney that came with it wasn’t great, so I made some for him to have with the samosas. My friend Jenny (who is Indian and happens to be a great cook in her own right that I hope someday she starts food blogging . . . hint hint!) gave me an insight on how to do it awhile back, so I put together what I could remember. I think I did okay. The Boy seemed to like it as he put spoonfuls of the chutney onto his samosas I brought for him.

And naturally, since I had a lot of the chutney left over I decided to try my hand at making samosas. Now that, I admit, is random.

My only thought about samosas is that’s it’s easy to make but a little on the time-consuming side. Still, if you’re a lazy cook like me, it’s a good recipe to try. In any case, when I started making the samosas I realized that I had defrosted way too many peas. Instead of throwing them out, I decided to make use of it by defrosting some ground turkey and won ton wrappers I had in the freezer. And that’s how we ended up with shumai with the samosas for our Sunday night dinner.

The Boy’s Reaction: “I like the samosas and the chutney sauce!!!” And he loved the with shumai and said they resembled Pelmini (Russian dumplings, essentially), which he grew up on (The Boy, by the way, is Russian).

Samosas & Coriander Chutney

For the samosas:
3-4 potatoes (I used yukon)
3 T. oil
1/4 cup of onion, chopped
1 t. cumin
1 t. cayenne
1/2 t. salt
1/2 cup of peas
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
juice of 1/2 lime
Phyllo dough
oil for frying

For the chutney:
1 bunch cilantro
mint leaves from 3-4 sprigs
1-2 jalapenos (adjust to your taste)
1 t. ground cumin
1/4 cup water (you may end up using up to 1/2 cup depending on how much you prefer)
1 t. salt
1/2 lime

For the filling,boil water and add potatoes (keep skin on). Cook until tender (about 20-30 minutes). Drain water and let potatoes cool before peeling skin off. (I watched an entire episode of Million Dollar Matchmaker and tended to the cooking process during 3 commercial breaks. Lazy cooking, indeed!). Cut the potatoes in 1/4″ squares (smaller is fine).

Heat oil in pan.  Stir fry onions until soft. Add potatoes. Cook until a light golden brown color. Add salt, cumin, cayenne. Cook another minute. Remove from heat and add the peas, cilantro and lime juice. Lay out Phyllo dough (I cut in half lengthwise, so that I had a long rectangle) and spoon about 2 tablespoons of the mixture into the bottom right-hand corner. Bring the corner up to the edge. Continue fold to achieve a triangle shape. When complete, send samosas into a skillet or deep fryer with hot oil. Fry for about 4 minutes (or until golden brown) on each side.

In the meantime, plug in the food processor and blend everything together for the chutney. It’s that easy!

Happy eating!

Jenny’s post-samosa-cooking suggestions:

  • Add tumeric to the samosa filling.
  • Eggroll wrappers (instead of Phyllo dough) work!
  • The chutney can also take grated coconut, garlic and ginger paste.
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