Basil Chicken Potstickers

Basil Chicken Dumplings - Eat Cho Food
Basil Chicken Dumplings - Eat Cho Food
Basil Chicken Dumplings - Eat Cho Food
Basil Chicken Dumplings - Eat Cho Food
Basil Chicken Dumplings - Eat Cho Food
Basil Chicken Dumplings - Eat Cho Food
Basil Chicken Dumplings - Eat Cho Food
Basil Chicken Dumplings - Eat Cho Food
Basil Chicken Dumplings - Eat Cho Food
Basil Chicken Dumplings - Eat Cho Food
Basil Chicken Dumplings - Eat Cho Food

How’s the work from home life, you may ask?? So far it’s been great! I decided that last Thursday and Friday were going to be vacation days for me. I slept, cleaned our apartment, organized the office, read some cookbooks, purged our fridge, and watched the remainder of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. You know, the important self care stuff. Then when Monday came I was antsy to get working and felt well rested! Well, sort of. Reuben and I rode our bikes twice over the weekend and my un-athletic self is not really sure what’s happening. So far work has consisted of emails, planning the logistics of my first class, spending all my money at Webstrauant Store, burning a pot of red beans for red bean paste, and making killer scallion pancakes (recipe coming next week!). Not too bad for a days work!

I have always dreamED of being able to work from home. I imagined that I would wake up every morning bursting with energy, fix myself a nice breakfast, put on yoga pants, work a little, go out for an afternoon coffee or exercise break, maybe talk to a person, and finish off the day with some freshly wrapped dumplings. So far the only thing that’s been true is the yoga pants. Ironically the hardest thing about working from home is having the energy to make yourself a nice meal. Yesterday I skipped breakfast and then made myself the lunch of my 5 year old dreams - a mini cheese quesadilla, avocado, rice, and a ripe mango. I was saving up my energy for the scallion pancakes I was about to test I guess. I’m hoping I’ll find a nice flow in the next few weeks. Right now it feels like I need to get a million things done and set the ground work for this freelance life and everything feels very urgent. Maybe I should get into meal prep?

I realize that I talk about dumplings a lot. They are just so good and versatile! One of the things I love most about dumplings is how meditative they are to make. If you have a hard time pleating dumplings it might be a little stressful, but once you get the hang of them it really is such a relaxing practice. I’m often making dumplings alone, which shouldn’t sound as sad as that sentence reads! Back home with my family we would make dumplings together and it would be the best time! Quick too… but here in SF I like to spend Sundays (DimSumday!!!) making dumplings either for dinner or to replenish our freezer stash. Reuben might pop in and help me fold a dumpling or 2, but I really don’t mind the peace that you get from pleating alone. I’ll turn some music on or just listen to the Top 50 songs playing from the neighbor’s kitchen across the lightwell. After a week of craziness and right before starting another week of craziness, making dumplings is my favorite way to find some calm in the kitchen.

So when Le Creuset asked me to create a recipe that helps me find calm in the kitchen, I immediately jumped to dumplings! They have this new GORGEOUS color called Fig as part of their New Calm hues. Somewhere between 1998-2005 I was obsessed with the color purple. Ask my Mom about the time I begged her to paint my bedroom lavender. I still feel like I don’t deserve to have these beauties in my kitchen. The braiser has quickly become my new favorite cooking vessel and has found a coveted permanent spot on my stove top. Obviously you can braise things in it, but I’ve also been sautéing vegetables in there and also cooking dumplings! The braiser is sort of perfect for the pan fry and steam method for cooking dumplings. This is when you sear the bottoms of the dumplings in a little bit of oil until they get nice and golden, then add some water to the pan and cover it to steam. Adding water and steaming something you want to be crispy might sound odd, but the magic is that once the water has fully cooked off at the end there is still a bit of oil in the pan that will crisp the dumplings back up again. The braiser works so well because 1. it has a fitted lid and 2. it’s big and beautiful enough that you can load it up with dumplings and then bring it right to the table when you’re ready!

The filling of this dumpling has a little Thai/Southeast Asian twist. We have Sriracha, fish sauce, and Thai Basil (the BEST SMELL). When you combine all 3 of these ingredients you get the most amazing dance party of flavors! These dumplings are spicy, herbaceous, and just a little bit funky but in the best way possible. I also find that chicken dumplings are a lot lighter than the pork or beef variety, so you have the ability to eat more dumplings. That’s never a bad thing!

Gosh, the Fig color is so pretty… I’m going to go stare at them for a little bit and then attempt to make some red bean paste without scorching my pot again!


Basil Chicken Potstickers

makes 24 large dumplings or 36 small dumplings

dough materials:

10 oz AP flour
pinch of salt
3/4 cup just boiled water

filling materials:

1lb ground chicken
1 cup fresh thai basil (regular basil works too) - chopped
2 tbsp Sriracha
4 cloves garlic - minced
2 green onion stalks - chopped
1/4 cup mined red onion
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
heavy 1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp cornstarch

olive oil for cooking
water for cooking

make dumpling dough:

  1. Add flour and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour and slowly pour in just boiled water. Mix dough together with your finger tips or a wooden spoon if the mixture feels too hot. Mix until water is absorbed and the dough is just combine. Knead for 2-3 minutes until dough is round and smooth. Place dough in a medium ziplock bag, seal, and allow to rest and hydrate for at least 30 minutes. Dough can rest for up to 2 hours before being used.

make dumplings:

  1. in a large mixing bowl combine ground chicken, basil, Sriracha, garlic, green onions, red onion, fish sauce, oyster sauce, white pepper, salt, and cornstarch. Mix everything together with a wooden spoon or silicon spatula until just combined. Cover with plastic wrap and let the filling to rest in the fridge for at least 15 minutes to allow the flavors to develop. Filling can be made a day in advance.

  2. Lightly flour your work surface. Remove dough from the ziplock bag. Cut dough in half and keep one half in the bag. Roll out one half of your dough into a 1” thick rope. Cut into 16 (for smaller dumplings) or 12 (for larger dumplings) equal pieces. Place pieces of dough in the ziplock bag to prevent drying out. Roll out 1 piece of dough into a 3”-3.5” disc with a small rolling pin or a tortilla press if you have one. Place a scant tablespoon (or a little less if you’re making smaller dumplings) of filling in the center of your round dumpling wrapper, avoid over filling. Fold according to desired shape. My simple dumpling pleat can found on my Instagram Highlights! Repeat with remaining dumplings and place dumplings on a lightly floured baking tray until ready to be cooked.

  3. To cook your dumplings, add 1 -2 tbsp of olive oil to a skillet and heat over medium heat. Add a single layer of dumplings to fill your pan. Make sure there is room between the dumplings so they don’t stick. Sear on the flat side for 2-3 minutes until the side is toasted and golden brown. Add 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of water to the pan depending on your pan size, and cover the pan with a lid. Steam the dumplings for 5-6 minutes. Remove the lid and allow any remaining liquid to cook off and for the bottoms to crisp up again. The dumplings will stick to the pan, as the name implies, just take a small spatula or fork to gently pry them off the pan. Repeat steps with remaining dumplings.

  4. Serve immediately with chili oil and/or soy sauce!

Notes:

  1. Dumplings can be frozen raw. Place pleated dumplings on a baking tray and freeze until solid. Place dumplings in a ziplock bag and keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. When cooking, prepare as the recipe states but steam for an additional 3 minutes until cooked through.

 

Thank you, Le Creuset for sponsoring this post!

Bye, bye, bye, Architecture

I left my full time job last week. It’s still really surreal. My last day at O+A was last Wednesday and it was a crazy blend of bittersweet emotions from saying goodbye to people I’ll miss daily, but also a whole lot of “I’m ready to get the heck out of here” feeling! Oh, you’re probably wondering why I left my job… I have finally decided to just do my own thing. That “thing” is a little hard to describe at the moment because it’s really a lot of things. I’m going to be focusing on building and growing this blog even more, which means a lot more cooking and a lot more writing! I’m also going to be scheduling a bunch of workshops for the remainder of the year! My first dumpling workshop is less than 2 weeks away!!! Holy cheese balls! I’ll also be doing a bit of intimate catering, making cute cakes (one of my cute cakes made onto Zola’s blog, check it out!), organizing pop-up dinners, painting, designing on the side, and who knows what else! I might even try working at a bakery for a little bit… WHO KNOWS?! I’m keeping my expectations open and limitless. I’m excited to try all the things and see which I love more and what feels like it’s really going to stick. More than anything, I’m excited to work on things that make me HAPPY. I’m excited to be able to focus more on my love for food and feeding people, instead of trying to combat the mental exhaustion of working full time during the week and forcing myself to work every other hour that I had. Not that it took too much forcing because I loved to do it. But you know what I mean, a lot of times after work you just want to eat carbs and watch Law and Order SVU for the rest of the night.

I’ve been consistently working on Eat Cho Food for a little over 2 years now. Before Eat Cho Food, I was also Ms. Side Hustle. I’ve always enjoyed juggling multiple projects, learning new skills (any OG fans remember 4 years ago when I taught myself handlettering????!), and staying creatively busy. For the last 2 years, I’ve been scheduling the hours of my weekends and after work to keep Eat Cho Food on track. My calendar was full of time blocks that reminded me that I needed to write tonight, edit photos on Wednesday, and recipe test all weekend. I would even block out time for “Fun Things” like going on a hike with Reuben or the occasional park hang or dinner with friends. But in the last 6 months or so I found myself filled with anxiety when I wasn’t working on the blog. It’s all that I ever wanted to do! Eventually, it got really hard to balance my full time job as a designer with my around the clock work on Eat Cho Food. The unbalance of both of these parts of my life were having a negative effect on my mood and my relationships with people. I was tired and anxious a lot. I was anxious at work because I just wanted to get my work over with so I could get home to work on what I really wanted to focus on. But I was also anxious at home because I felt like I didn’t have enough time to work out all the kinks in a recipe or have adequate time and mental space to shoot and style a post. Vicious cycle. I also felt like I wasn’t being a great friend anymore. Finding time to hangout with people on the weekends was very hard for me because, as you’ve probably already guessed, I just needed to work. Not that I value a mochi cake over hanging out with real life humans, but I needed to keep working hard towards a dream. Most people understood that, but I’m excited to have actual weekends back! I’ll probably still be working a lot, but at least now there is a little flexibility.

You’re also probably wondering how I got to this decision. Or maybe you’re not? I’m going to tell you the abridged version anyways. This wasn’t some epiphany that suddenly dawned on me. When I started Eat Cho Food, I never thought anyone would read it and I definitely never thought I was going to be able to make a career out of making dumplings and the food I grew up eating. As I kept sharing recipes and kept writing my stories, more people seemed to care about what I was putting out there into the scary vastness of the internet. It started to feel more realistic to me the last few months, that I could actually do this whole food blogging thing as a career. At the same time, I’ve been grappling with leaving architecture and design. It’s what I’ve wanted to do since I was 13 years old. For over half my life I’ve dedicated my life and the choices I made to being a designer. BUT as I’ve been working professional for the last 6 years, I’ve quickly realized that this is just not for me. I still love design. I still love architecture. That is never going away. I’ve worked in firms where the projects were soul-sucking but they provided you all the comforts of life so you never had to try too hard to succeed, but this complacency killed me. I’ve also worked at a firm where the projects were exciting but they made you feel small and gave you a label that never truly represented you. That also killed me. I have a problem with people telling me what I can and cannot do.

I remember the moment I mentally decided I was going to leave my job. It was a few months ago. I was working on the most terrible project. I stayed late to work on our presentation every night leading up to a meeting and was just so exhausted. We sat in our meeting, clicking through the pages and pages of design we slaved over and the client’s reaction was just “meh” and overall not very nice. I remember sitting in that conference room, with the presentation still running, I just got lost in my own thoughts for a bit and thought to myself, “this is NOT it for me”. I was done working towards something I didn’t really care about. Something that didn’t make me feel good about myself. Something that wasn’t really utilizing the skills I had. Something that didn’t make me happy. So I went home, told Reuben my plan, and put on my calendar the day I was going to quit my job. During those months, I really kicked it into high gear and kept that date in my head. I reached out to as many brands as I could to see if they wanted to work with me, networked with more people I’ve ever networked with (I hate the phrase networking, btw), and generally tried to figure out how I was going to survive in the most expensive city in the America without a steady paycheck. I’ll let you know how that goes in a few months.

As I embark on this new journey on my own, I’m feeling all sorts of excited and scared. If anyone says that it’s not scary to take the leap they are lying. When I feel scared, I try to just think about the people who believe in me. My family (somehow my parents didn’t freak!), Reuben, Reuben’s parents, my friends, and you. Thank YOU for supporting me. Even by just spending a few minutes to stop by and read my blog means the world to me and helps this little blog keep on going.

Alright, gotta get back to work! My boss is crazy about time management : )

 
Eat Cho Food - Kristina Cho
 

Mango Matcha Boba

Mango Matcha Boba - Eat Cho Food
Mango Matcha Boba - Eat Cho Food
Mango Matcha Boba - Eat Cho Food
Mango Matcha Boba - Eat Cho Food
Mango Matcha Boba - Eat Cho Food
Mango Matcha Boba - Eat Cho Food
Mango Matcha Boba - Eat Cho Food
Mango Matcha Boba - Eat Cho Food
Mango Matcha Boba - Eat Cho Food
Mango Matcha Boba - Eat Cho Food
Mango Matcha Boba - Eat Cho Food
Mango Matcha Boba - Eat Cho Food

You want to know how to make time go by incredibly fast? Have your best friend come to visit you for the weekend and do all the fun things! We welcomed my BFF Katie with a homemade pasta dinner (still working on my noodle skillz) and a tasting from Reuben's beer cellar/our hallway coat closet. Reuben and I joked around how we were acting like our prized child was coming home from college and we were pulling out all the stops! If my prized child was coming home I probably would have made 4x the pasta and had at least 2 baked good options ready...I did have a 2 tier flowery birthday cake chilling in my refrigerator though! Katie and Reuben helped me deliver it to a friend out in the East Bay and only 2 flowers plopped off! It's okay though I had my spare buttercream emergency kit ready. If you haven't rode in a car while grasping onto a giant cake box for 45 minutes over bumpy roads, then I don't think you know what stress is.

Since we made the effort to cross the narrow sea into the East Bay, we spent the rest of the day bopping around Oakland and Berkeley. We drank beers, got soft serve, and had the best nachos in the world! If you're in Oakland head to Arthur Mac's... see if they have vegetarian chili and request them on the nachos. You won't regret it! On Sunday we started the day off with warm buns from Harvest Wheat Field, a tahini tasting at the Clement Street Farmer's Market, and a visit to our new neighborhood coffee shop/wine bar. Inner Richmond is getting so trendy. Then we hopped on our bikes and whizzed all the way through Golden Gate Park, along Ocean Beach, and back. I realized that I'm not as terrible as I thought I was at riding a bike. I'll need to start riding more! We followed our bike ride with a hummus feast at Oren's downtown and then returned home to melt into our couch. We watch sports and ate Maui onion potato chips, then all of a sudden it was Sunday night and we had to say goodbye to Katie : (

Ah such a good weekend though! Why don't all my best friends live in the same place? 

This week is about to be a weird week... my last day of work is this Wednesday. I'll share more details in a separate post coming soon. I'm a little nervous, but good things are in the works! I'll need to grab a bubble tea to calm my nerves 😬

I've been finding myself trying to curb my cravings for bubble tea a lot lately. Maybe it's the slightly warmer weather or maybe because it seems like there is a new bubble tea spot opening up every week in San Francisco and I feel compelled to try ALL OF THEM. My problem with bubble tea a lot of the time is how ridiculously sweet they always are. How do you order your bubble tea? 100% sweet? 120% sweet?!!! I typically go for 30% sweet or less. Sometimes 0% if it's a fruity based tea. Oh and the powders! Don't get me started on the powders.... yuck. Bubble tea can be sooooo good but also straight up terrible if you're not lucky. 

I recently went on a middle school boba date with Reuben after work (not like I was dating or had the ability to freely get boba in Westland, OH) and we split a Mango Matcha Latte at Black Sugar. The flavor balance of Matcha and Mango was really nice! The layers were so pretty too, I almost didn't want to mix them up to drink it... almost. I also really enjoyed the sweet and perfectly chewy boba, the best part of bubble tea honestly. So like with most the things that I try out in the wild, I felt inspired to try recreating it at home! That way I can control exactly how sweet I want it and use my favorite matcha!! 

Aiya Culinary Grade Matcha is so perfect for my daily matchas and this layered Mango Matcha Boba. The matcha flavor is delicately floral and a little grassy. I also love that when I blend it up in my matchas or when added to my favorite bakes the color stays so bright and beautiful! Culinary grade matcha is ideal for baking and mixed drinks. Ceremonial grade matcha, the real good stuff, is best when drinking on its own, so you can experience the clean flavors.

When I first assembled this drink I thought it was going to be sooooo easy. The layers were going to come out so clean! This is going to be the easiest recipe to develop! Wrong. Or maybe I'm the only one that forgot about middle school science and the fact that different liquids have different densities, which would effect the order in which they should go in??? Either way, it took a few tries. The key is to have the heaviest ingredient on the bottom, in this case its the mango puree. Next are big ice cubes and whole milk. If you avoid dairy milk, I would recommend using an almond milk creamer or another equivalent. I tried using canned coconut milk the first time, and the flavor is great (if you love coconut like me), but it was a little chunky. So not the most photogenic ingredient. I prefer to use whole milk because it adds richness and provides enough structure to hold up the matcha. The final step is pouring the matcha over the big ice cubes, which helps to evenly disperse the matcha over the milk and avoids muddling the layers. HOWEVER, if you don't really care about clean layers then just throw it all into a glass and enjoy your stress free life. You're going to mix it all up anyways! Once you mix everything up together, you have a lovely and perfectly sweet iced drink! The sweetness comes completely from the ripe mangoes and a bit from the boba brown sugar syrup. The matcha flavor is strong and gives you a nice little energy boost. I probably drank this in like 3 minutes, it's so good! Now I need to make one every day to make it through this week!


Mango Matcha Boba

makes 2 servings

Materials:

1 cup mango puree (from about 1 ½ mangoes)
1 cup whole milk or alternative milk of choice
2 tsp Aiya culinary grade matcha powder
Hot water
Ice

Brown Sugar Boba Materials:

1/2 cup dried boba
4 cup water + 3/4 cup water
3/4 cup brown sugar

Steps:

  1. Prepare your boba first. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a small pot. Add dried boba to the boiling water, cover the pot, and boil for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat, keep covered, and let the boba sit in the hot water for an additional 3 minutes. Remove boba from water and place in a heat safe container.

  2. Add 3/4 cup water and 3/4 cup brown sugar to a small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn off the heat. Allow the brown sugar syrup to cool and pour over cooked boba.

  3. Add boba to the bottom of glass and layer on ½ cup mango puree. Add ice and pour ½ cup milk over the ice.

  4. Place 1 tsp of matcha powder in a small bowl. Pour in 2 tbsp of hot water and whisk into a thick paste, takes about 20 seconds. Add in ½ cup hot water and whisk until matcha is well blended. Pour Matcha in the glass over the ice.

  5. Give everything a good mix and enjoy!

Notes:

  1. No additional sugar is added in this recipe. All the sweetest comes from the ripe mango and the brown sugar boba. If you wish for a sweeter drink just add a few teaspoons of the brown sugar syrup.

 

Thank you, Aiya Matcha, for sponsoring this post!