Friday, October 02, 2009

Vegan MoFo Day Two: What the hell am I having for dinner?

If you read any of my blogs very often, you're going to notice one theme regardless of subject: I work. A LOT. It's not uncommon for me to work nine to ten hours in a day. And the thing is that you have to tack on the forty minutes it took me to get to work in the morning, and then the fifteen or so minutes it took me to actually get out of the office once I "stopped" working, and then the forty minutes (or so) that it took me to get back home.

And then there's all of those pesky errands that life forces upon us, like grocery shopping and laundry and drug store runs and psychotherapy. All said and done, it's not uncommon for me to leave the house at 8:15 in the morning and not return until 8:30 or so at night - having not eaten a single real meal in the interim.

Today was, unfortunately, one of those days. Yeah, I ate breakfast. But work was its usual endless stream of chaotic catastrophes, with the drafting of responses to motions laid on top. And before I knew it it was past 5pm, I'd never stopped for lunch, and all I'd had to eat all day was a (soy) yogurt around noon, a few bites of hummus around two, and two "vienna finger" cookies around four (and hells yeah to accidentally vegan cookies popping up at Cookie Friday, but that's a story for another day).

After my ten hour work day, I did have an errand to run - a birthday related beer errand. As far as errands go, this kind I don't mind so much. Three, count them three, co-workers are having birthdays within a week of today, so the neighborhood bar run became obligatory. A pint of beer became my dinner for a moment, but that really is a temporary fix. (Tasty, but temporary.)

So, finally, at 9pm - thirteen hours after leaving my house this morning - I arrived home exhausted and starving. In the fridge: Tofurkey slices, unpressed tofu, celery, some condiments... nothing that jumped out and said "make a meal out of me!" At least not to me, at least not when I'm this tired - particularly not when I have to be back at work at 11 tomorrow morning. (Yup.)

But then. In the freezer! What to my wondering eye should appear? Why yes! It is the bag of gyoza that Jonathan picked up at the Asian market down on Thirty-something street the other weekend. My object became clear: I had to make him cook for me.

I don't know where Jon picked this up from, but he does this gyoza-in-broth thing that is a really simple, tasty, outstanding meal. If you're a dumpling artisan you could try it with handmade dumplings. I wouldn't put it past Jon to do such a thing; he has, after all, made his own tofu. But really, he works almost as much as I do. And when you can grab a bag of tasty, pre-made, frozen gyoza... well, don't look a gift dumpling in the mouth, alright?

So. There's really not much to it, and the whole thing goes down in about 15 minutes. First, heat up a good skillet with a little bit of oil. We usually use canola for this sort of thing, but it doesn't matter too much. Just something with a medium heat range. Then place your frozen gyoza directly into the pre-heated skillet - don't thaw first. Be careful! The water in the frozen dumplings will make the hot oil spit. We usually make 8 to 10 at a time.

Brown the dumplings on both sides. This should only take a few minutes; gyoza are fairly delicate objects. Be careful (again) not to fry them too harshly - it's easy to make them fall apart.

Add to your nice hot skillet, which now contains perfectly browned dumplings, a nice broth. Imagine Organics makes an un-chicken stock that's good for cooking, and we also like Rapunzel's various vegan bullion cubes. Add the broth a little at a time. Again with the careful! For 8 to 10 gyoza we use approximately 2 cups of liquid, but it's really just eyeballed to taste. Once all the liquid has been added and is almost boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the skillet. Add seasonings to taste: salt, pepper, herbs - whatever floats your boat. You could make it spicy if you want - I don't want because I'm a wuss.

Let the whole affair simmer for five to ten minutes, until the gyoza are cooked completely through. Cooking time can vary depending on the exact type of dumpling you're using, but it should never take very long. Once the dumplings are hot all the way through, the dish can be served without further delay.

Which I'm happy about, because I'm starving!

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