“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” - Virginia Woolf

Do Chinese Restaurants Shop for Gyoza at Trader Joe’s?

Posted: August 9th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Appetizers, Chinese, Cooking, Eating Out, Vegetable Oil | View Comments

I love gyoza, also referred to as potstickers.  I think it is the yummiest appetizer in all of Asian cuisine, and I can eat just gyoza for an entire meal.  Fill it with pork, chicken, beef or “mystery meat” and I’ll eat it.  For those of you not in the know, gyoza is a Chinese dumpling that is filled with meat and either steamed or fried (often a combination of the two).  Gyoza is what the Japanese call it, generally Chinese restaurants will call them potstickers.

Gyoza usually isn’t cheap when you consider what you’re getting, a plate of 6-8 can easily set you back $6-$10.  At good restaurants they make the dough and filling, and hand form the dumpings, so you’re paying for the labor.

Imagine my surprise when I went Trader Joe’s tonight and noticed pre-made gyoza in the frozen section.  I couldn’t resist, so I brought them home and decided I’d see if I could recreate the same yumminess in my kitchen.   Each bag contained three servings of 7 pieces, 270 calories per serving (before the oil and the sauces).  Sounds about right – 3 servings is a filling dinner (with a lot of salt).

I followed the instructions, cooking them a little longer than they suggested so they’d get that nice crispy texture.  It takes 7 minutes to:

  • heat a frying pan (while it is empty) on medium/high
  • add 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil (they suggested 2, whatever, I like my fat)
  • add the whole bag of gyoza once the oil is hot
  • let the gyoza brown, turning occasionally (be gentle)  — they suggested 1 minute but I did it for 4 to get crispier
  • turn the heat down to low
  • add 1/4 cup water to the pan and cover so the steam will warm them all the way through – 2 or 3 minutes
  • pour gyoza into a strainer to remove the excess oil and water, serve

So there you go!

Immediately, I noticed that these gyoza are a particular size and shape – and I’ve seen the exact same size/shape repeated at LOTS of restaurants.  I think there are tons of Asian restaurants shopping at Trader Joe’s or Costco or some other bulk restaurant retailer and we’ve been paying $1/gyoza when I just made 20 of them for $3!  I’m rethinking my whole gyoza strategy, from now on I am going to ask if they make their own dumplings fresh and from scratch.  If not, I’m not ordering – because I can make them at home and never risk a soggy gyoza again.

Photo credit: Flickr

I’m No Betty

Posted: August 2nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: From the Pantry | View Comments

Remember the quintessential 90’s move Clueless?  In that movie, Cher calls her mom “a total Betty”.  I turned to UrbanDictionary.com to figure out what exactly this meant, and which famous Betty had inspired the vocabulary.

Turns out, we can thank legendary sex symbol Bettie Page for inspiring this turn of phrase.  I had another famous Betty in mind when I started this blog, Betty Crocker, who I later found out isn’t an actual person but a “persona” created by General Mills in the early 1920s to personalize food products.  In today’s world of authentic social media, that sure wouldn’t fly!

Growing up, the Betty Crocker Cookbook was ever-present in my house right along with Joy of Cooking — but the truth was we didn’t experiment much.  My mom hated to cook more than the basics (meatloaf, roast chicken, etc.) and it was pretty good.  Sometimes my Dad would cook, and he had a natural knack for throwing together ingredients for beef stroganoff or something else.  Baking involved chemistry, so it was lot more risky and we usually had cake mix from a box or occasionally a homemade pie crust.

The art of food wasn’t entirely lost on us though, because our parents loved to go out to eat and began taking us at a very young age and teaching us manners.  So, you’ll find a section here about fine (and not-so-fine) dining as well as a section on wine and cocktails.  Enjoy!

Why I’m No Betty

I’m not as kinky as Bettie Page, although I do live in the “leather district” of San Francisco, home of the Folsom Street Fair – nor as wholesome as one would imagine Betty Crocker to be.

I like my sex sexy, and I like my food… well, I just like it… a lot.  So this is a story of becoming Bettie and Betty, and its also just a story of a 20-something urban dweller with a really busy life who wants to get the most out of every bite.

Dinner in 10,000 Hours

Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his book Outliersthat it takes 10,000 hours to get really good at something.  As I told my husband – if it’s going to take 10,000 hours for me to get good at creating amazing food I better get started on that.  If I spend 10 hours a week for the next 20 years I’ll be kicking serious ass b the time I’m 45!  How’s that for long term planning??

I have a life and other passions – primarily the startup I’m working on, but becoming good at baking, cooking, appreciating wine and fine dining are things that I already spend a lot of time and money doing simply because you have to eat to live.  The difference about me, is I also live to eat.  I really deeply enjoy the ambiance of a restaurant, the preparation of a cake, the selection of wine.  So I’m going to write about it, and I hope you’ll find some enjoyment in my pictures, stories, and adventures — and that I’ll inspire you to your own.

More soon!

In the meantime: read more about me at DanielleMorrill.com

Update: Julia Child didn’t write “Joy of Cooking” – the fact that I though this should tell you just how clueless I am about all things related to cooking. Julia Child wrote Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Thanks to @radicand for the tip on this, I might need to go pick up a copy.