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Chinese Take-out…..In (Pork and Chive Dumplings, Spam and Pineapple Fried Rice)

One thing that I pride myself on is knowing my limitations. There are many things that I do well. There are some things that I do very well. There are even a few things that I do exceedingly well. And, of course, there are quite a few things that I totally suck at and leave to the experts, like performing brain surgery or taking apart a carburetor. One of the things that falls in that vast grey area in between is Asian cooking. This is actually ironic because Asian food is one of my favorite things to eat. I’ve never met a noodle bowl that I didn’t love, a sushi roll that didn’t sing to me or a Thai curry that didn’t make me swoon! I don’t think that I can’t do it. I just never learned how. There are a some dishes that I’ve managed to master over the years, but not nearly as many as I’d like.
One of the best things about blogging is discovering other blogs written by all sorts of talented and creative cooks from all over the world. Whatever kind of cuisine you’re interested in, someone is out there blogging about it. This is particularly true of Asian food. Asian food blogs abound and the seemingly endless array of gorgeous and mouthwatering dishes is truly inspiring. I drool over many of them daily, and every so often, when I can find the required ingredients, I try to recreate some of the recipes. 
When the adorable Mochachocolata Rita [1]announced that she was hosting a blog event called Chinese Take-out [2], I knew I wanted to participate. The only question in my mind was what would I make. I immediately thought of one of my favorite Steamy Kitchen [3]recipes, Spam Fried Rice. [4] This dish has become a regular fixture on our dinner table. We all love it and it is easy to make. I like to change the recipe around a little, and I thought I’d add some pineapple and carrots this time. Done!

Then, a few weeks ago, I was watching Throwdown with Bobby Flay [5] on the Food Network [6], and the subject was dumplings. Not dumplings as in “chicken and”, but dumplings as in “potstickers”. Sohui Kim, chef and co-owner of The Good Fork [7] in Red Hook, New York, was on the show with her legendary pork and chive dumplings. As I watched her prepare her delectable little pork-filled purses, I knew I had to attempt them as well. I scrambled to write down everything she did. With my notes and a little help from Google, [8] I put together a version of Kim’s recipe that I think is pretty close to the original.
Sohui Kim uses garlic chives in her filling for these dumplings. Garlic chives are supposed to be a little more pungent than their subtler cousin, the regular chive. Kim also uses silken tofu in her filling to give it an almost creamy texture. In addition to lots of garlic and ginger, she also seasons her filling with hoisin sauce. Luckily, I was able to find these ingredients at a local Asian market along with the recommended wrappers she suggested. I thought about making them from scratch, but you have to crawl before you can walk, you know?

The dumplings were not especially difficult to make, but assembling them was very time consuming, especially for a novice like me. Once I got to four dozen, I wrapped up the rest of the filling and quit. While they were cooking, I whipped up a kicky little dipping sauce with soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, black vinegar and chili oil.
Those dumplings were the best I’ve ever eaten. Honestly, they were out of this world! The filling was light and fluffy and bursting with flavor. Those delectable little pillows of greatness have spoiled me for life. I’ll never be satisfied with anything less!