San Francisco Style Garlic Noodles

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I'm going to get straight to the point. These noodles are fucking delicious.

Whenever I feel exhausted, anxious, upset, or stressed I find myself ferociously craving noodles. Whether it's macaroni n' cheese, pho, pad thai, a bottomless bowl of bucatini, or a giant plastic container of garlic noodles, I need the noods. To be honest with y'all, I could use a giant plastic container of these garlic noodles right now. It's only Tuesday and I already feel like I could classify this week as "one of those weeks". I sound like I'm an old person. But I'm over it. I'm so ready for the weekend so I can bake pineapple cakes and fold another round of dumplings. I also really want to go ice skating to get into the olympic spirit! Did you know that Reuben was a hockey player? I call him an ice angle and I love seeing him fly around so gracefully around the rink : )

OHMYGOSH. What if there was an ice skating rink that served garlic noodles?!!! I would never leave.

I dream about these garlic noodles. When I'm away from San Francisco too long, I start to become that annoying out of town person and can't stoping talking or thinking about them. But when I tell people about them they get confused on why I'm so crazy about buttered noodles. It's not just buttered noodles! The flavor is so much more complex and addicting than the basic buttered noodles of your picky eating childhood.

I'm assuming that most people don't know about San Francisco style garlic noodles. Heck, I didn't really know this dish was San Francisco specific until like last year. Here is a little history lesson. This is a Vietnamese-American noodle dish that was invented at Thanh Long in the Outer Sunset neighborhood of San Francisco back in 1971. It consists of a lot of butter and a lot of garlic. Pretty straightforward. It is typically served with a bounty of crab or shrimp. But a lot of restaurant serve it with imperial rolls or grilled Vietnamese meats. 

You can find these noodles at a ton of restaurants around the Bay Area now. But my absolute favorite place to get garlic noodles is from Perilla in Inner Sunset. I used to live a few blocks from there and it was a constant internal battle to not order from there everyday. If I did, I probably wouldn't be able to fit into my softest and stretchiest pants. You have the option of ordering a large Chinese food container of just plain garlic noodles for like $4. Which I tried my hardest not to do... but it was perfect for those days when you're hangry and your body is screaming for CARBS and BUTTER.

The recipe is real easy. No fuss or fancy ingredients. A lot of other recipes call for Maggi Seasoning Sauce, but I found that oyster sauce worked perfectly fine. The actual noodles that you use make a huge difference. You want chewy, fresh, and flavorful Chinese egg noodles. If you don't make them yourself, you can definitely find them at your local Asian store. I tried making my own noodles and I'm not quite ready to share that recipe with you guys yet. Still needs a few tweaks! When I finally cracked this recipe, I was literally jumping up and down with excitement because it tasted exactly the same as Perilla's garlic noodles. I can now rest easy and not have to fear garlic noodle withdrawal or depression when Reuben and I move to Philadelphia or back to Ohio. Hooray!

Also, YAY EAGLES! Any Philadelphia Eagles fans out there?! I'm not much of a sports person. The exceptions are when Cleveland sports teams are kicking butt and when Reuben's favorite sports teams are also kicking butt. I'm excited if Reuben is excited. And he ordered us some cute Eagles beanies and I'm going to make an Eagles themed Superbowl cake. Double Hooray! 


San Francisco Style Garlic Noodles

serves 2 to 4

Materials:

1 pound of fresh Chinese egg noodles
6 tbsp unsalted butter + 1 tbsp
1/4 cup minced garlic
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt to taste
chopped parsley for garnish 

Steps:

Boil your noodles until al dente. When cooking fresh Chinese egg noodles it should only take about 4 minutes. Rinse with cold water and set aside to drain.

Heat a large skillet on low heat. Add 6 tbsp butter to the skillet and allow it to slowly melt. Once the butter has melted, add in minced garlic and cook on low heat for 3 to 4 minutes. The garlic shouldn't brown too much. You are really trying to infuse the butter with garlic flavor.

Pour the butter and garlic in a small bowl and set aside.

Turn up the heat of the skillet to medium high and add remaining 1 tbsp butter. Add in egg noodles and tosh in the hot skillet for 2 minutes. Add in the butter/garlic mixture, oyster sauce, sugar, and pinch of salt. Toss the noodles so that everything is evenly coated and mixed. Leave the noodles alone for a minute and then toss. Repeat this until the noodles are lightly charred and crisped.

Garnish with parsley and serve hot with a side of stir fried veggies, crispy shrimp, or your favorite protein!

 

Shrimp Dumplings (Har Gow)

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Hi there! I’m doing something that I’ve never done before. I’m blogging on a plane! I’m currently (as I type this) thousands of feet in the air on my way to Chicago for work. By the time you read this, I’ll probably be passed out after a day of meetings and traveling around Illinois since 6:45am, Chicago time. Ugh. Hopefully I’ll have a tasty Chicago dinner in my belly by then, instead of an airport carrot muffin.

This is my first time traveling for work! I feel very grown up and professional right now. When I was younger, I would daydream about what my life would be like as a young professional working in a big city. I watched The Devil Wears Prada, and just assumed that that would be my life. I would live in a shitty apartment with my professional chef boyfriend. Wear pencil skirts and flowy blouses everyday. Maybe even a blazer. Run errands and grab coffee for my overbearing boss.  And travel around with my laptop and blackberry in hand at all times. None of this has come to fruition. Thankfully. My apartment is a dream and I’m constantly gratefully that Reuben (my architect/almost professional chef boyfriend) can manage to live in it. I’ve NEVER worn a blazer to work. Heck, I came into work in yoga pants today and I don’t think anyone even noticed. I’ve also never had to do the bidding of any overbearing bosses. And who uses a blackberry anymore???

I’m definitely not the jet-setting young professional that I thought I would be. But I’m totally fine with that. Flying sort of sucks and I would miss lounging on the couch watching Food Network with Reuben too much.

*side note: isn’t it just common decency to NOT watch YouTube videos out loud when you’re on a plane? Yes?! I thought so……

I have about 6 hours of free time on Saturday before I fly back to San Francisco. I’ve already located the most amazing looking Matcha Latte, which is conveniently 3 blocks from my hotel! I’m trying to decide on what I should eat. Should I eat Chicago specific foods, like a hotdog or deep dish pizza? Or should I just keep going on this dumpling train?? Advise me!

Did someone say dumpling?! I have dumpling recipe No. 2 for you this month! This might be my favorite dumpling of ALL TIME. Har Gow are simple steamed shrimp dumplings in a crystal wheat starch wrapper. They are part of the dim sum trifecta, which I consider to be char sui bao (BBQ pork buns), pork sui mai (open top pork dumplings), and har gow. You can’t NOT order a few steamers of them at dim sum. I literally could eat like 50 of them in one sitting. They are so light, fresh, and clean tasting! The dim sum spot right our apartment makes THE BEST ones. I wish I could rig a pulley system from their kitchen to my bedroom window for easy har gow access.

When I was little I would only eat the wrapper of these. I’d take a nibble to open up the dumpling. Pick out the shrimp filling and plop it down on either my mom’s or grandpa’s plate. I was crazy. I thankfully grew out of my picky eating stage and now eat the whole dumpling. But if you have never had a dumpling in a crystal wrapper before, you are missing out! The texture is the best part. It’s light and chewy, and pairs incredibly well with a quick dip in some soy sauce or chili oil.

As with most dumplings, these are slightly labor intensive. Mainly the folding. My grandma showed me how to fold a har gow when I was home for Christmas and it blew my mind. I’ve watched so many hours of dumpling folding videos. But to see someone do it so easily in front of you and with directions was revolutionary. I made a little video for you to study when you try to make these dumplings. But honestly, even an ugly dumpling is a delicious dumpling! I feel like that should be on a t-shirt or bumper sticker. Also, this is my very first video! It's a little rough, so don't judge me too much! I have no idea what I'm doing... 

I have 2 more dumpling recipe to share with you after this. I’ll have a fully stocked freezer full of dumplings and I won’t have to fold, crimp or pinch for a very long time : )

Happy folding and steaming, folks!


Shrimp Dumplings (Har Gow)

For the filling:
1 ½ lb shrimp – deveined and peeled
1/3 cup water chestnuts – finely chopped
2 cloves garlic - minced
1 tsp salt
½ tsp white pepper
½ tsp sesame oil
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp oyster sauce

For the wrapper:
3 cups wheat starch (plus more for dusting)
2 cups just boiled water
3 tsp olive oil

Maker’s Notes:

You can buy wheat starch at most asian grocery stores.

Non-steamed dumplings can keep in the freezer for a few month. You can steam them from frozen for about 1-2 minutes extra.

I have a 10” bamboo steamer that fits perfectly on top of my LeCreuset dutch oven. You want the steamer to fit snuggly over the pot you are boiling water in. Any gaps will prevent the dumplings from steaming correctly.

Steps:

Start by preparing your filling. Finely chop your shrimp. Rock your knife back and forth over the shrimp multiple times so that it gets a pasty consistency. Place the shrimp in a medium bowl. Combine with finely chopped water chestnuts, minced garlic, salt, white pepper, and sesame oil. Give it a good mix until everything is evenly incorporated. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and allow the mixture to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

In a large bowl, measure out 3 cups of wheat starch. Pour in the just boiled water. Give it a light mix, about 2 to 3 turns with a spoon or paddle. You still want the mixture to be about 50% dry. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set the bowl aside for 15 minutes. The hot water is going to steam the wheat starch. After 15 minutes, removed the plastic wrap. Add olive oil and start kneading the dough until you get a super smooth and opaque dough ball and it no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl.

Roll your dough into a neat ball. Pinch off enough dough to make a ¾” round ball. To make your wrapper you can either roll them out with a small rolling pin or with a tortilla/dumpling press. You want your wrappers thin, but not too thin that it breaks while folding, and about 3” in diameter.

To fold your dumpling, place the wrapper in your non-dominant hand.  In my case, it is the left hand. Slowly start to fold the wrapper in half. Using your free hand, slowly create pleats on the bottom half of the dumpling. You should be able to get about 5 to 6 pleats in, but work with what is comfortable for you. Once you have pleated the bottom half. Scoop in about 1 1/2 tsp of filling into the dumpling, filling size varies depending on the size of your dumpling. Try not to over fill your dumpling. To seal the dumpling, pinch together the top half of the wrapper with the pleated half. Give it a good pinch on the side to get that typical Har Gow look.

Arrange the dumplings on baking tray dusting with wheat starch or cornstarch so that it doesn’t stick.

To steam the dumplings, place a bamboo steam on top of pot of boiling water. You’ll need about 3 to 4 inches of boiling water. You want to make sure your pot and steamer are the same diameter. If there is a gap, it won’t steam as well.

Line your steamer with parchment paper or cabbage leaves. Arrange your dumplings in the steam and steam for 15 minutes.

Remove the steamer from the pot and allow them to cool for a few minutes. Enjoy hot and with a side of soy sauce!

Crab and Mushroom Wontons in Chili Oil

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Hi, friends! How was your weekend?? Reuben and I went out TWO nights in a row this weekend like actual young city living kids! And I don't even feel that crappy! On Saturday night we ventured over to my old hood, The Sunset District, and found a new favorite bar: Lawton Tap Room. It was small, cozy, and had the right balance of chill to rowdiness. The place also smelled like cuban sandwiches, which was definitely a plus. I also discovered the dangerous black magic that is alcoholic agua fresca. It's literally agua frescas that have been fermented for however long they need and then it comes out tasting like refreshing fruity sparkling water. It's insane and hard to believe that there is any alcohol in them, but after 3 of them you definitely start to believe it. We had intentions of trying to squeeze in a late night dinner at Outerlands, but instead of spending $130 on dinner we zipped back over to Inner Richmond only to find out that ALL the Taco Bells in the bay area close at 10pm. What happened to 4th meal?! So we settled on Jack in the Box and Subway for dinner. LOL. So young. So not cool. 

The next night we crossed the narrow sea, that is the San Francisco Bay, and went to a bluegrass concert in Berkeley. Reuben bought us tickets to see the David Grisman Bluegrass Experience! To be honest with you, I had no idea who David Grisman was before this. But Reuben really loves him and was so excited to see him live for the first time. I love seeing him all giddy! I'm normally the giddy one. He made sure to download all the important facts on me before we went. From what I absorbed, he is a bluegrass legend, was great friends with Jerry Garcia, and is also a Jewish man from New Jersey. Kindred sprits, Reuben and David : ) We arrived at the show early to snag essentially front row seats, but the theater only fit like 200 people so there wasn't a bad seat in the whole place. The average age of the audience was about 62, people brought their own dinners (the show started at 7pm), and people were knitting and reading as they waited for the show to start. It was so chill and civilized and I freaking loved it. I just kept people watching and imagining Reuben and I as cute and cool 62 year old concert going grandparents. It makes my heart swell just thinking about it.

Even though I had never really listened to David Grisman before, I still found myself so moved by the music. I cried 1.5 times because it was just so beautiful! And his son Samson dedicated the sweetest song on the planet to his wife in the audience and I couldn't handle it. No End of Love by John Hartford kills me... adding it to potential wedding songs. Overall, it was a pretty swell weekend. So old, So cool.

So what do wontons and bluegrass have in common? Nothing. Well, I don't know. I bet David Grisman and his band would love these wontons!

These wontons are inspired by an appetizer that my mom makes for family get togethers and potlucks. She makes these delicious crab and mushroom stuffed mushroom caps with melty muenster cheese on top. They're so good! I took her filling, removed the dairy, and adjusted it for optimal dumpling filling performance. Crab and mushrooms seem like an unlikely combo but the brininess of the crab works really well to balance the earthy mushrooms. You then wrap up the filling in a blanket of wonton skin, boil them, and then toss them in some spicy chili oil. I normally don't crave spicy food, but this definitely hit the spot with all the cold and rainy weather we've been getting. Plus they come together relatively quickly. I swear, wontons are the easiest dumplings to make. Once you venture into the world of pleats, crescents folds, and weird dumpling origami, you'll think folding wontons are easy too.

Happy wrapping!


Crab and Mushroom Wontons in Chili Oil

makes about 28 wontons

materials:

1/2 package of medium thickness square wonton wrappers
8 oz dungeness crab meat
8 white mushrooms - washed and finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped green onions (whites + greens)
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
1 egg
1/2 tsp white pepper
salt

1 tbsp cornstarch
3 tbsp water

chili oil

steps:

Place your chopped mushrooms in a bowl and sprinkle in a little bit of salt (1/4 tsp). Give it a good mix and allow to sit for 5 to 8 minutes. The salt will draw out a lot of water from the mushrooms. Using a clean dish towel or paper towels, squeeze out any excess liquid from the mushrooms over the sink. Once the mushrooms are dry place them back in a dry bowl.

Add the crab, chopped green onions, oyster sauce, soy sauce, egg, white pepper, and a pinch of salt into the mushrooms. Give it a good mix until well combined. Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes to let the flavors marinate.

Bring a pot of water to a boil.

While you wait for the water to bowl, let's wrap some wontons!

Mix cornstarch and water to create your wonton sealer.

Place a wonton wrapper in your non-dominant hand so that it is oriented like a diamond. Add about 1 tbsp of crab and mushroom filling into the center of the wrapper. Dab a little of the cornstarch and water mixture along the top 2 edge of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half to form a triangle. Press the edges tightly. With the long edge of the triangle facing towards your finger tips, use your middle finger to create a little indent in the center of the wonton. Dab the 2 ends of the wonton and fold them together so that they touch. Pinch the ends tightly and you've made a wonton! Place wontons on a lightly floured tray or plate and cover with a lightly tamp towel to prevent them from drying out.

Boil the wontons in batches of 8 to 9, you don't want to crowd your pot, for 4 to 5 minutes. They should float to the top when ready. Scoop them out of the water when ready and drain.

Toss with as much or as little chili oil as you like and enjoy!