February 2014 Cookbook of the Month-- ASIAN DUMPLINGS: Mastering Gyoza, Spring Rolls, Samosas, and More: Sweet Treasures; Sauces, Seasonings, Stocks and Other Basics
Please use this thread to report on the following chapters from ASIAN DUMPLINGS: Mastering Gyoza, Spring Rolls, Samosas, and More by Andrea Nguyen.
Sweet Treasures, pages 192-213
Sauces Seasonings, Stocks and Other Basics, pages 214-225
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Tamarind and Date Chutney, p. 220
I didn't have any of the seedless tamarind pulp that this recipe calls for, but I always have tamarind pods on hand, so I eyeballed the amount of pods to use to get the right amount of pulp. Fortunately I got it right. The recipe has you simmer the seedless pulp for 5 minutes, then let sit in the hot water for 5 minutes more. I did the same with the full-of-seeds pulp from my whole pods. You then squish the softened pulp through a sieve, to get a thick liquid without any strings or seeds in it.
This is combined with some pitted dates, water, brown sugar (or palm sugar), salt and cayenne, and blended in a food processor until smooth. The chutney is finished with the addition of some toasted and ground cumin seeds. This comes out pretty thick, and the AN says you can thin with some additional water if desired. I did not thin it.
This chutney really came out beautifully, with just a subtle warmth to it from the chile, and just the right salty/sweet/sour balance. Unthinned, it can be spooned onto the vada (p 181 and p 183), but is thick enough it could also be spread with a knife on toast or a naan.
Tamarind and Date Chutney p. 220
This is a simple sauce that packs a tangy punch. I have a hopeless affection towards sweet and sour flavours so of course I gravitated towards this recipe to serve alongside the lentil fritters on page 181. A good, standard sauce to have in the repertoire that goes so well with many deep-fried snacks.
I don't need to outline the easy process (thanks, MelMM!), but this is how my sauce-making went. I had a bit of a moment when I started up the blender: the appliance started dancing and shaking on the counter top as if it were pulverizing large rocks. Curious, and fearing a broken blade, I peered under the lid and found I wasn't too far off. Somehow, even though I had pitted the dates, I managed to add the hard elongated seeds into the jar alongside the ingredients, so they managed to become part of the mix. I wish I could blame this error on the latest progeny and subsequent lack of REM action, but that would be a lie. You see, I am afflicted with an unfortunate case of scatterbrain syndrome that spans many generations, so sometimes no matter the planning and effort given to meal preparation I just cannot pull it together enough for flawless execution. Sigh.
I stopped blending immediately so that I could strain the fibrous chunks out, but when a quick google search revealed that I would not be inadvertently poisoning my diners if the pits were ingested, I decided to go ahead as is and blend the whole thing (because obviously anything I read on the internet is a fact). To aid in the grinding of these tough objects, I added some additional water and then later just cooked it down to the consistency desired.
I left it as a thinner sauce so that I had extra to freeze, and finished it off with a pinch of black salt. It was a lovely chutney (with the bonus of added fibre!) that we eagerly dipped our pakoras and fritters into.
Green Chutney, p. 221
This is the classic green chutney, and it's very simple to make. You simply pulse some green chile, garlic, salt, and sugar in a mini chopper, then add a hefty amount of cilantro, some mint, lime juice, and some water if needed, and blend to the desired texture. You then let it sit for a bit, before adjusting the seasonings.
This chutney was excellent. I think the inclusion of some sugar made it stand out. You couldn't really taste the sugar; it just seemed to deepen the flavors. The bright, tangy flavors of this chutney were a nice contrast to the dark, warm flavors of the tamarind date chutney.
Tangy Soy Dipping Sauce, page 215
My favorite Chinese restaurant, one that specializes in Northern Chinese food, is closed due to the building facade collapsing. Can't begin to tell you how much we have been craving a quality Chinese meal lately. One with more than one dish on the table.
I made this to accompany the frozen, handmade dumplings purchased at another Northern Chinese restaurant.
Combine soy sauce, Chinkaing, sugar, chili oil (optional), ginger or garlic. Stir. Very simple but very good. Quite different than the Northern sauce we generally use which is heavy on the Black Vinegar. We enjoyed the spiciness of the chili oil against the spiciness of the ginger a lot. I found that it needed a touch more sugar to offset the vinegar.
Quick, easy, and a nice addition to the list of good dipping sauces.