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Ming Tsai Cooks Up Asian Cuisine

Put away the takeout menus. Many home cooks steer clear of Asian cooking because they think it's difficult, but Ming Tsai will demystify the wonton for you with some simple and delicious recipes using typical Asian ingredients.

Tsai is a chef and owner of Blue Ginger restaurant. He's also a cookbook author, and host of the PBS Emmy-nominated series "Simply Ming," which kicks off its seventh season this Saturday.

Crispy Wonton and Salmon Napoleon
Dijon Meat Loaf with Mashed Potatoes
Coconut-Cranberry Chicken Curry
Free-Form Cranberry Tart


Crispy Wonton and Salmon Napoleon with Parsley-Roasted Garlic Puree

Serves 4

6 heads garlic, roasted
1/2 cup picked parsley leaves, plus sprigs for garnish
1 tablespoon organic soy sauce
Juice of 1 lime
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 8-ounce center cut piece of salmon, sliced into 1/2-inch strips (4x2)
8 whole wheat wonton skins, crisped up in a sauté pan, (not a fryer) set aside
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Canola oil

With a mortar and pestle, blend the garlic and parsley with a pinch of salt until smooth. Mix in naturally brewed soy sauce, lime juice and whisk in extra virgin olive oil. Alternatively, in a food processor, puree garlic and parsley with pinch of salt until smooth, then blend in soy sauce, lime juice and olive oil. Season salmon with salt and pepper. In a sauté pan on medium heat coated lightly with oil, sear salmon for 1 minute, keeping the middle rare. Plate with a dollop of garlic puree in center of plate to anchor crispy wonton. Top wonton with 2 pieces of salmon, then dollop puree on salmon. Top with parsley leaves and a second crispy wonton. Build another layer repeating process. To finish, top wonton with puree and garnish with parsley leaves.

Wonton Defined - A Chinese specialty similar to an Italian Ravioli. These bite-size dumplings consist of paper-thin dough pillows filled with a minced mixture of meat, seafood and/or vegetables. The dough comes prepackaged as won ton skins. Wontons may be boiled, steamed or deep-fried and served as an appetizer, snack or side dish, usually with several sauces. (source: Food Lover's Companion)

Dijon Meat Loaf

Serves 4

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sambal*
4 tablespoons Dijon mustard, divided
1 1/2 pounds ground chicken
1 pound ground pork
2 large onions cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons organic soy sauce
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup organic Worcestershire sauce
1 cup panko bread crumbs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Canola oil/cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Oil a 1 1/2-quart loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper or use a meatloaf pan. In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons Dijon and 1 tablespoon of sambal and set aside. In a large nonreactive bowl, combine the ground chicken and pork. Add the onions, garlic, and the remaining 1/4 cup of sambal, soy sauce, eggs, Worcestershire sauce and panko bread crumbs. Season with salt and pepper and, using your hand, mix well. Fill the pan with the mixture, and bake until cooked through, about 45 minutes. Unmold, slice, and serve with the sambal mixture on the side as a condiment.

Coconut-Cranberry Chicken Curry

Serves 4

6-8 chicken thighs, skin on, bone in, seasoned for 10 minutes before cooking
2 red onions, sliced
2 sweet potatoes, peeled, 1/2-inch dice
1 heaping tablespoon minced ginger
1 minced jalapeno
Heaping 1/2 cup Craisins
2 tablespoon madras curry powder
One 13.5 ounce can of coconut milk
1 cup water
Canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Steamed Brown Rice

In a cast iron skillet or stockpot coated very lightly with oil on medium-high heat, sear the chicken, skin-side down, and completely render the fat. Flip and brown meat-side. Remove chicken. Wipe out excess fat and sauté the onions, potatoes, ginger, jalapeno, Craisins and curry powder and season. Add coconut milk and water, check for seasoning, then add chicken back. Bring to a simmer and cook chicken through, about 45 minutes. Serve family style on rice.

Free-Form Cranberry Tart

8 ounces or 2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed and cold
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
4 ounces ice water

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, combine flour, sugar and salt. Add butter gradually (cutting it in) and when mixture looks crumbly, add rice vinegar. Add water until mixture just comes together with a few crumbs still on bottom of bowl. Make sure mixture is not too wet. Turn out onto a work surface and bring together into a square. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in fridge until well chilled, about 2 hours.

INGREDIENTS: Cranberry Filling
1 pound fresh, frozen cranberries
1 cup finely crumbled Palm Sugar (you can do this with a knife)
2 tablespoons butter
Pinch kosher salt
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest, plus more for garnish
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
egg wash
3 tablespoons coarsely crumbled palm sugar
Tempt hemp ice cream, for serving

In a bowl, mix all filling ingredients together.
Remove pie dough from fridge, unwrap, cut in half, and roll dough out to a 16" by 16" round 1/8 inch thin. Roll dough onto a rolling pin and then onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Fill the center with full amount of cranberry filling in a single layer. Fold outer edges of dough into the center. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with crumbled palm sugar. Bake at 325°F convection until golden brown (about 30-40 min.) 350°F degrees standard, 40-50 min. Allow to cool on pan, then remove to rack to finish cooling. Cut in slices and serve with hemp ice cream. Garnish with orange zest.

All recipes © 2009 Ming Tsai adapted from the public television series "Simply Ming."

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