Pass the Fortune Cookie

MY father(Chef Jack Bailey) and I took many trips to Tuft’s Medical Center in Chinatown, Boston, Massachusetts over the 2-3 years after his liver transplant for ongoing treatments. One of our delights while there was simply walking up and down the streets of Chinatown, admiring the beauty of golden, roasted ducklings hanging in the windows and the fiery dance of the flames as they superheated the blackened woks of the Teppanyaki restaurants. The smell drifted into the streets and even as far as inside the lobby of the hospital. We sat down at many of these Asian restaurants and dined on anything that caught our fancy. We would frequently try dishes that we couldn’t get at home, such as Dongpo Pork, Char Siu, Zha Jiang Mian, Xiao Long Bao and Guotie.
Guotie was one of our favorites and we decided to copy this dish back home as best as we could. Without going overboard with too many ingredients, we mingled our Italian knowledge, with a Chinese base and Yankee frugality and the result was:

Yankee Baked Guotie

I don’t know of one family who makes their own wontons at home anymore. They would rather spend twice as much as they should just they can avoid the “hassle” of dealing with this dish. Well, The Yankee Chef has simplified the recipe for you, ending with the same great Asian flavor and texture for a whole lot less money and grease.

1 lb. chicken garlic sausage *
1 1/2 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 c. Ranch dressing
1 package won ton shells or squares

Preheat oven to 350°F. Slice and then small dice sausage. In frying pan, add sausage and cook over medium-high heat. Drain fat from sausage, mix in bowl with cheeses and dressing.
Grease two mini-muffin pans very lightly with baking spray. (If you don’t have mini muffin pans, regular muffin pans will work.) Place one won ton in each muffin space; gently push down so that the square corners of won ton shells are standing straight up. You are creating space for the filling.
Drop a small amount of filling into each cup (you should be able to fill two mini-muffin trays). (Or, use just half of the mixture and freeze the rest to pull out when unexpected guests arrive. Just be sure to have won ton shells on-hand.)  Bake at 350° F for about 10 minutes, but keep your eye on them. The edges of the won tons brown quickly – watch for golden brown color. Remove from the oven and serve warm.

*I found this sausage at W.A. Bean’s of Bangor, Maine. They can be found at beansmeats.com for ordering purposes.

Let me tell you about the true Guotie. At one time, these Northern Chinese dumplings were once a popular street food in many large American cities. They are better known as Pot Stickers, so named because because if you don’t use a well seasoned pan to shallow fry the Guotie they will just stick to the pan and refuse to budge!!!
The stuffing is usually made from minced pork meat but sometime chicken or beef meat is used in Muslim areas. Chinese Cabbage, spinach, scallions, ginger, Chinese wine and sesame seed oil are the other ingredients that can be used in Guotie stuffing!
For true Goutie, the dough is made by pouring boiling water  onto the flour and letting it stand for 5 minutes to activate the gluten. Cold water is then added to stop the formation of the gluten strands.
Now the tricky part of fryi8ng Goutie is something many chefs either forget or don’t do properly. Using a little water in the wok while it is covered during cooking ensures that the bottom of the dumpling is fried while the top part is steamed, leaving a Guotie with 2 different textures in each bite.
If you want to feel as though you are dining in a Chinese restaurant at home, make a dipping sauce of soy sauce, rice vinegar and a splash of chile oil, with a touch of minced, fresh ginger blended in.