So with friends coming over in less than two hours, and empty cupboards, what did I manage to get together? A couple of things. For starters, I decided to go with something tried and true, and one of my all-time favorites: spring rolls with (and this is the best part) spicy peanut sauce. I think -- or maybe I just hope -- I heard half of you saying "Hell, yeah!"
Now, even in their most basic form, spring rolls are a work of art, but there's a place in town that makes the best spring rolls humanity has ever tried; Jasmine Deli (sorry, they don't appear to have a website). Rather than the predictable combination of rice noodles, bean sprouts, shredded carrots and mock duck in a rice wrapper, they really go all out and add cilantro, garlic, and a whole bunch of other great stuff.
For years, I've tried to emulate what they've got going on in my kitchen. While I don't think I've quite nailed their recipe, I have come up with a couple of my own things. I like my spring rolls with a little sautéd onion. Well, not just sautéd, but sautéd to the point where the edges are just starting to blacken. Also, I like to chop up some mock duck into small pieces, put it in a pan with some of the juices it was packed in, some tamari and minced garlic, and some flour (to thicken the sauce) and bake it for about 30mins, taking some time to stir it about halfway through.
With the spring rolls out of the way, I moved on to the real challenge for the evening, home made steamed dumplings . I've made these one other time in the past (friends coming over is not the time to try something new, go with the tried and true) and I remember them being a lot more difficult that time around. They came together relatively quickly and were well worth the effort.
 Grogan, Bryanna. "Potstickers or Savory Steam-Fried Dumplings." Recipe. Authentic Chinese Cuisine for the Contemporary Kitchen. Summertown, Tennessee: Book Publishing Company, 2000. 69-71