Someone said to me last week, “Kimchi is like the hottest ingredient right now.” To which I promptly replied with the asinine, “No it isn’t, Kimchi was hot like five years ago and now it’s everywhere.” This is by no means a complaint; Kimchi being readily available in markets and on menus all over the country should be listed as one of the greatest advances of the 21st century, perhaps just behind that nifty banking app that allows you to deposit a check just by taking a picture of it with your phone. Thanks for the birthday check Aunt Missy!
Then I was asked, “So what’s the hot ingredient now” and I promptly responded, “RAMPS!” Actually I think ramps are sort-of passe at this point, but they are still deeeeelicious. And I get perhaps a little TOO excited when I see them at farmer’s markets. The hot ingredient RIGHT NOW might be ghost chillies or yucca.
Ramps are glorified garlic-flavored scallions. Somehow they taste all at the same time like roasted garlic, leeks and scallions. You can use all parts of the Ramp, but the leaves are my favorite. I decided to riff on the popular Chinese dish of chive and pork dumplings (or pot stickers) by substituting ramps for the chives. If you’ve never made dumplings or pot stickers before, now is a good time to start. MOST grocery stores sell pre-made wonton wrappers or dumpling skins so you don’t have to go through the hassle of making your own.
What makes a pot sticker different from a dumpling you ask? Not very much. For an answer detailing the Chinese pronunciation visit Simply Chinese.com. All you need to know is that calling something a pot sticker usually implies that you pan fry the pieces first before adding water to steam. Dumplings or wontons are steamed, boiled or fried in one go. I’m pretty sure pot sticker is Chinese slang for dumpling so go figure.
Ramp and Pork Pot Stickers
Makes about 20 pieces
You will need:
1 lb. ground pork
8-10 ramp leaves, roughly chopped
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
2 Tablespoons cooking oil such as vegetable or canola
20 round wonton or dumpling skins* at room temperature
2 Tablespoons ponzu or dumpling sauce (for dipping)
1. In the bowl of a food processor combine the ramps, ginger and garlic . Pulse for a few seconds until the ramps are finely diced.
2. Add the ramp mixture to a large bowl with the pork, soy sauce, sesame oil and mix with your hands. If you have time to spare, make this mixture ahead and store in the fridge for 2-6 hours so the flavors develop.
3. Assembling pot stickers is easier than you think! All you need is some warm water and a fork. The dumpling wrappers/skins should be just slightly cold. Take them out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you start. Fill a small bowl with warm water so you can constantly wet your hands. Have the pork filling near by a clean work surface. Take a dumpling wrapper and place it on a clean work surface and add a scant teaspoon of filling just barely left of the middle. Dip your index finger in warm water and drag your finger around the circular border so it’s wet. Then carefully fold it in half to get a half moon shape. Take a fork and make indentations along the half-circular edge to seal the pot sticker or expertly pinch and fold the dumpling to seal. Go to 2:14 of this helpful video to see what I mean: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8MBX-SXnmg
4. Continue to assemble dumplings until all the filling is used up. You’ll need to make two batches to ensure that the pot stickers get crispy. Then heat 1/2 the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 the pot stickers and cook for 1-2 minutes. Then carefully flip once they start to brown. Cook for 2 minutes on the other side. Then add 2 Tablespoons of water and cover the pan with a baking sheet. Steam the pot stickers this way for 3-5 minutes. Remove quickly to a serving platter and repeat until all the pieces are cooked. Serve immediately with ponzu sauce.
*You can find these in any Asian market or at your regular grocery store located near the tofu in the refrigerated section.