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‘East-Meets-West’ cooking made easy

In a new cookbook titled, "Simply Ming," Food Network host, restaurant owner, and award-winning chef Ming Tsai shares his technique for bringing East-West flair to everyday cooking. Check out his recipes.
/ Source: msnbc.com

Best known for his Emmy Award-winning show “East Meets West,” and soon to be known for his brand new cookbook, “Simply Ming,” Ming Tsai has become the standard-bearer of East-West cuisine, the innovative blending of Eastern flavors and techniques with Western ingredients and presentations. He shows how delicious dishes can all have similar bases on “Today.” Check out some of the recipes he discusses.

GINGER-FUJI APPLE CHUTNEY

Apples are, of course, great raw, but they’re equally good, if not better, cooked. This tart-sweet chutney, spiked with ginger, takes advantage of the fact, and ups the taste ante by using fragrant Fuji apples. This wonderful apple provides subtly sweet flavor; it also keeps its shape when cooked, so the finished chutney has body. (If you can’t get Fujis, any non-mealy apple can be substituted.) Chutneys are great, versatile condiments to have on hand, and this is one of the best.

Keep the chutney in the fridge. Its flavor will intensify with time.

Makes 4 cups

Lasts 1 week, refrigerated

4 cups Fuji or other non-mealy red apples (8 to 10 apples), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch dice

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon grapeseed or canola oil

2 medium onions, cut into 1/4-inch dice

2 tablespoons peeled and micned fresh ginger

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 cup rice wine vinegar

1 cup apple juice

1. In a large, nonreactive bowl, toss the apples with the lemon juice.

2. Heat a large, nonreactive saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the onions and ginger and sauté until the onions are soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the apples and cook, stirring gently, for 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Add the vinegar and apple juice and cook until the liquid is reduced by three quarters, about 30 minutes. Correct the seasoning and cool before ladling into a tightly sealed jar.

PORK AND GINGER-FUJI APPLE CHUTNEY POT STICKERS

I’ve probably eaten more Chinese dumplings than anything else in my life. The reason’s not hard to grasp for anyone who’s enjoyed their taste and texture. Here’s a true East-West pot sticker: The technique is traditional, but the sweet-tart filling is definitely and deliciously Western. With Ginger-Fuji Apple chutney and store-bought wrappers on hand, all you have to do is fill and form the dumplings. The recipe is detailed, but once you make it, it’s like riding a bike — it becomes second nature.

Just keep in mind that the seal is the most important aspect of dumpling making; it really doesn’t matter how many folds you use to enclose the filling, or how gorgeous the result. As a kid, it was my job to form the dumplings, so you know it can’t be too hard to master.

Makes 16 to 20 pot stickers

FILLING

1 pound ground pork

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/2 cup scallions, white and green parts, sliced 1/8 inch thick

1 cup Ginger-Fuji Apple Chutney

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 egg

1 package (50 count) round dumpling wrappers

2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil

Dim Sum Dipper (recipe follows)

1. To make the filing, fill a large bowl with ice. Set a medium bowl into the ice-filled bowl. In the smaller bowl combine the pork and soy sauce and mix. Fold in the scallions and chutney and season with salt and pepper.

2. To form the pot stickers, in a small bowl mix the egg with 2 tablespoons of water. Lay 5 wrappers on a work surface. Place 1/2 tablespoon of the filling in the center of each wrapper. Avoid getting any filling on the edges of the wrapper, which would prevent them from sealing properly. With a finger or pastry brush, paint the circumference of the wrappers with the egg mixture. Fold each wrapper in half to form a half-moon shape. Seal by pressing between the fingers and, starting at the center, make 3 pleats, working toward the bottom-right corner. Repeat, working toward the bottom-left corner. Press the folded edges of the dumplings gently on the work surface to flatten the bottoms and help them stand.

3. Heat a large, nonstick lidded sauté pan over high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the pan. When the oil is hot, add the pot stickers, flattened bottoms down, in batches of two or three rows of five, and cook without disturbing until brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add about 1/2 cup of water and immediately cover the pan to avoid splattering. Lift the cover and make sure about 1/8 inch of water remains in the pan; add a little more if not. Steam until the pot stickers are puffy yet firm and the water has evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes. If the water evaporates before the pot stickers are done, add more in 1/4-cup increments. If the pot stickers seem done, but water remains in the pan, drain it and return the pan to the stovetop to evaporate any remaining liquid.

4. Continue to cook over high heat to allow the pot stickers to recrisp on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes. Be careful not to burn them. Transfer the pot stickers to a platter and serve with the dipping sauce in individual small ramekins.

MING’S TIPS:

Dumpling wrappers are usually available in 1-pound packages, sold fresh or frozen. Labels usually indicate the kind of dumpling-potstickers, boiled dumplings, and so on-for which the skins are intended.

Cover wrappers you’ll be using with a damp cloth to prevent them from drying out. Never use wrappers that have dried, even partially; they’re liable to crack and cause leaks when the dumplings are cooked.

DIM SUM DIPPER

This is a great dipping sauce for all dim sum-pot stickers, shu mai, spring rolls, scallion pancakes, to name a few-but it’s also excellent with any fried goodie, like chicken fingers. You can and should adjust the heat to suit your palate. Though the dip lasts about a week in the fridge, it’s so easily prepared that I recommend you make just as much as you need when you need it. In any case, always give diners their own servings in little bowls for individual dipping. That keeps everything sanitary and cuts down on the possibility of spoilage.

Makes about 1 cup

2 tablespoons Traditional Spicy Sambal (page 56) or store-bought sambal

1/2 cup rice wine vinegar

1/2 cup soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

In a small bowl combine the sambal, vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Mix and use or store.

POTATO PANCACKES WITH APPLE-SCALLION CREAM

This is dedicated to my co-author, Arthur Boehm, and his mom, both of whom have seen many potato pancakes in their day. (Artie says his mom’s are the best, but read on.) My first encounter with latkes was at a bar mitzvah in my hometown of Dayton, Ohio. I ate eight, almost in a gulp. I was embarrassed, but I resolved to make potato pancakes a part of my life from that moment on. This super version, accompanied by irresistible apple scallion cream, is the fruit of that decision.

Once the potatoes are grated, they’ll begin to brown, due to oxidation, so work quickly. (The browning doesn’t really affect their taste, but it can make the finished pancakes unsightly.) And, if my experience is any indication, make plenty.

Serves 4

1 cup Ginger-Fuji Apple Chutney (page 72)

1 cup sour cream

4 scallions, white and green parts separated and coarsely chopped

4 large russet potatoes, peeled

2 eggs, lightly beaten

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil

1. To make the apple scallion cream, combine the chutney, sour cream and all but 1 tablespoon of the scallion greens in a small bowl and mix. (Reserve the remaining greens for garnish.) Refrigerate if not using immediately.

2. Using a food processor with a coarse grating disk, or the coarse side of a box grater, grate the potatoes. Transfer the potatoes to a large strainer set over a bowl and use a large spoon to gently press down on the potatoes to remove as much liquid as possible. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, eggs, and the scallion whites. Season to taste with the salt and pepper.

3. Heat half the butter and half the oil in each of 2 large nonstick pans over medium heat (or work in 2 batches with 2 pan). Add 1/3 cup of the potato mixture for each pancake, flattening it to make 4 to 6 pancakes about 4 inches in diameter. Cook until the bottoms of the pancakes are brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the pancakes and repeat. (If using 1 pan, keep the first batch warm in a 200 F. oven while you prepare the second.) Dollop with the apple-scallion cream, garnish with the remaining scallion greens, and serve.

Excerpted from Simply Ming by Ming Tsai and Arthur Boehm Copyright© 2003 by Ming Tsai and Arthur Boehm. Excerpted by permission of Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.