A Day of Cooking Homemade Chinese Takeout

(Also known as a whole afternoon spent cooking with my teen)

Normally, I HATE cooking all day. I HATE recipes that are 3-4-5 steps, some of which have you wait in between steps (I’m talking about you, fresh bread!). But now that we’re home, self-quarantining indefinitely, I figured that we have all the time in the world, so let’s start cooking dinner at around 2PM!

Actually, that’s not how this dinner started. It started with a text from my teenager asking if she could make a specific chicken wonton recipe for dinner the next night. When one of my kids offers to make dinner, YES! is usually my response. I checked the ingredients of the recipe, noting what substitutions we would have to make, because I certainly wasn’t going to the food store (while self-quarantining) to get any ingredients. She agreed to the substitutions, and the idea was a go!

Knowing how quickly my family will devour dumplings, I knew that I needed to have other sides  on the plate to fill everyone up. We had leftover brussels sprouts, so I figured I could make a slaw out of them with an teriyaki-type dressing. We had two bunches of scallions that I wanted to use before they went bad, and I’d been thinking about making scallion pancakes. I decided on that too.

I set my teen to work on her dumplings (she’s pretty self sufficient in the kitchen, with a recipe), and I started with the scallion pancakes. I had two recipes to work off of, and decided on trying the Paleo version, as I wasn’t sure what else I was going to use my stash of cassava flour with…

It looked super-easy, and the dough came together quickly. It didn’t roll out and then roll back up with the scallions as smoothly as I expected (or as the recipe showed), but I figured that it was ok, because I was using parchment paper and could just “flop” the finished “pancake” into the pan. That’s pretty much what I ended up doing, adding a bit of extra cassava flour before rolling out.

I fried them in coconut oil (having to add a bit more for each one), and then put them on a plate with parchment in between. I planned to finish them in the air fryer (400F for 10 minutes) closer to when we would sit down to dinner.

Final result was pretty good! They didn’t have a lot of flavor, though. They were “floury” and the scallions didn’t seem to shine. For future batches, I will definitely add more seasoning to the dough: onion and garlic powder, and probably more salt. Dipping them in the homemade teriyaki sauce helped. Here’s the non-Paleo version, if you’re interested.

As for the wontons, my daughter used this recipe. We substituted ground turkey for the chicken, shredded brussels sprouts for the napa cabbage, and egg roll wrappers (cut into 4) for the wonton wrappers. We also made our own dipping sauce based off my homemade teriyaki sauce.

She sauteed the vegetables before mixing with the ground turkey, and used a scant 1 tsp scoop to keep the wontons uniform. She figured out how to pinch the wontons to gather at the top, but you could just fold in half for triangles too. After putting together about half of them (over an hour since she started), she needed a break. I finished up my pancakes and then helped her finish the wontons. There’s definitely a learning curve to getting the pouches right (though we found out at the end, it didn’t matter because you couldn’t tell the “mistakes” when they were cooked).  It made about 60 wontons, which is what the recipe said it would.

While waiting for closer to dinner time, I quickly mixed up the brussels sprouts slaw. I thinly sliced a few cups of brussels sprouts and added whatever shredded carrots we had left. I peeled and sectioned 2 mandarin oranges and added about a half cup of frozen pineapple pieces. I tossed this with a bit of the dipping/teriyaki sauce, enough to coat everything, and put this slaw in the salad to sit and flavors to meld.

We set up 2 large skillets with steamer baskets on the stove and were able to cook about 20 at a time. The 10 minutes that these took to cook was the same amount of time it took the scallion pancakes to finish cooking in the air fryer, so everything was done around the same time!

The overall meal was delicious, filling, and varied! However, it really took at least 2 hours to make from start to finish, plus a ton of dishes. When you have a full day to cook, it’s a great option. We now have a new appreciation for the people who make wontons/dumplings on a regular basis! I do have to say, though, that the time spent with my teen and the kitchen skills we both learned were priceless.

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