Chinese Smoked Pork Belly and Cabbage Dumplings

Plated Smoked Pork Belly Dumplings

We had family coming over the weekend so needed to cook up a meal. We were walking through the meat section at Costco looking for inspiration and came across a nice slab of pork belly. I’ve never done anything with a pork belly other than season it and throw it on the grill. I decided to buy it and utilize in a set of dishes using a Chinese food theme. The menu included:

This post provides details on how to cook the chinese smoked pork belly and cabbage dumplings. It really an easy process and I know you can do it! Try it and really impress yourself, along with, your family and/or friends.

Plated Chinese Smoked Pork Belly and Cabbage Dumplings

Note: Pork belly is an inexpensive, fatty cut of meat from the underside of the pig near the loin. Pork belly is normally salted, cured and smoked to make bacon.

Raw slab of Pork Belly

Get your grill heating up. In the meantime, cut yourself a 1 pound piece of pork belly. Season it with salt and pepper on all sides. Put directly over the fire and sear all sides. Move to indirect heat. Add any type of wood or wood pellets, depending on your type of grill, to get the smoke started. I used a little hickory and some apple chips. Mine took about an hour and 1/2 but it really depends on how large the pork belly is, how hot the fire is, and how long you leave it over the direct heat. Use a digital cooking thermometer to measure the temperature in the middle of the thickest part of the pork belly. It is done when it reaches 145 F. Remove from grill and let rest until it’s cool enough to work with.

Either slice and dice the grilled pork belly so that’s it’s chopped up well or just put it in a food processor. My choice was to put it in my Ninja Blender and it did the job very well. Transfer the meat to a bowl.

Now we are ready to start adding all the ingredients together to make the dumpling. Add the cabbage, green onions, carrots, cilantro, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine, ginger, and pepper to the meat in the mixing bowl. Mix all ingredients together.

Adding the cabbage to the dumpling stuffing

Dumpling stuffing all mixed up

Place a piece of parchment paper down or you can use flour on a smooth surface. Lay out a few of the wonton or dumpling wrappers on the parchment paper. Prepare a bowl of water to dip your finger in as you assemble the dumplings. Place a dollop of the stuffing into the middle of the wrapper but not enough so that it squeezes out to the edge. Next, using your finger, dampen the edges of the wrapper with water from the bowl. Fold two opposite corners together and seal the edges with your fingertips. Fold in the other two opposite corners and the final corner wetting the edges as you go.

Note: There are more sophisticated methods to folding your dumplings but I haven’t learned them. That’s why we will stick with what works.

Assembling a dumpling

Place dumplings either in the refrigerator or the freezer if not ready to cook. They do hold up well in the freezer as long as they are in an airtight freezer or vacuum sealed bag.

The way I like to prepare them is to put a few tablespoons of oil in a sauce pan. Get it to medium-high temperature. Add the dumplings, frozen or not, and brown all sides. Add a little sesame oil and green onions, and enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Cut the heat back to medium and cover the sauce pan. This allows the dumplings to now steam. Cook it this way for 5 to 10 minutes making sure the dumplings aren’t sticking to the bottom. When ready to serve, take the top off the sauce pan and allow evaporation to reduce any remaining liquid.

Pan frying the dumplings
Adding a little water to the pan
Plated Smoked Pork Belly Dumplings

Chinese Smoked Pork Belly and Cabbage Dumplings

Grilled and smoked Pork Belly paired with cabbage creates a deep flavor profile that is to die for!
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 20 mins
Smoking Pork Belly 2 hrs 30 mins
Total Time 3 hrs 10 mins
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 24 Dumplings

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb. Pork Belly, Grilled and Smoked
  • 1 1/2 Cups Cabbage, Purple
  • 1 Cup Green Onion, chopped
  • 1/4 Cup Carrots, Shredded
  • 1 tbsp Soy Sauce Tamari sauce can be substituted
  • 1 tbsp Sesame Oil
  • 1 tsp Rice wine or Sherry
  • 1/2 tsp Ginger, fresh
  • 2 tbsp Cilantro, fresh
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 24 Dumpling Wrappers
  • 2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 2 cups water For steaming in sauce pan
  • Soy, Tamari or Dumpling dipping sauce
  • Sriracha for dipping

Instructions
 

  • Season with salt and pepper and grill the pork belly until done. Add any type of wood to the coals. I used some apple and hickory for the pork belly.
  • After cooling, put pork belly in blender and shred.
  • Finely shred the cabbage and green onions.
  • Add the cabbage and green onions in a bowl with the shredded pork belly. Add the soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine or sherry, ginger and the cilantro to the bowl. Mix thoroughly with a spoon. Hands work even better.
  • Lay off a few of the wonton or dumpling wrappers. Prepare a bowl of water to dip your fingers into. Working a few at a time, put a spoonful of the filling on one half of the wrapper so there there is a gap around the edges. Using your finger, dampen the edge of the wrapper with water from the bowl. Fold the wrapper over and seal the edges with water and your fingertips. If the wrappers are in a square shape, take the corners and fold over.
  • Place some vegetable oil in a sauce pan. Bring up to Medium-High. Add dumplings and brown on all sides. Add 1/4 tsp of sesame oil and additional chopped green onions. Add water to the pan to cover the bottom 1/3 of dumplings. Cover the pan and let dumpling steam. Every few minutes you should move them around in order to keep them from sticking. After 5 minutes or so, the water will begin to evaporate. Remove the top and let remaining liquid evaporate.
  • Serve with fresh green onions and Tamari and/or Sriracha Sauce to dip in.

Notes

These dumplings will still be good if you were to substitute pork belly with ground pork and would save a lot of time.
Keyword Cabbage, Chinese, Dumplings, Pork Belly

Now, enjoy the simple life by sitting with your family or friends, and eating some good chinese smoked pork belly and cabbage dumplings.  Please let us know how you like this post or have suggestions on future posts.

Enjoy! Remember, if you can dream it, you can do it!

Please LIKE this post. If you have any COMMENTS or QUESTIONS, please post below. Please SUBSCRIBE to our BLOG for additional great content.

“Real” Cajun Spaghetti Cook and Plate

Real Cajun Spaghetti Meat Sauce

Everybody knows to make traditional spaghetti you’ve got to use a lot of tomatoes in your sauce, and maybe even some italian sausage. Nope, I’m here to tell you there’s another way and its incredibly good and authentically Cajun. What’s the difference you say? The Cajun way is to first make a roux using flour and oil, and that forms the base for your sauce. Erin’s Grandmother, Nita Rivoire Davis (GG), from Breaux Bridge, LA, came up with the recipe a number of years back. GG is not with us anymore but her cooking and recipes sure live on.

Make sure you’ve got all the ingredients ready as once you start the roux you will be steady busy for a little while. The good thing is the ingredient list is not too long:

Again, the element that makes this authentic Cajun is the introduction of the roux. To make a roux, you will mix equal parts vegetable or canola oil with all-purpose flour. So, one cup of oil and one cup of flour. Add the oil to your cast iron pot and heat it up to medium or a little higher (6 or 7). Let it come up to temperature. Sprinkle just a bit of flour and see if it starts cooking/bubbling in the oil. If so, your oil is hot enough. Go ahead and pour in about a 1/4 cup at a time. Use your flat-side wooden utensil or a whisk and mix it up so that there are no lumps. Then add another 1/4 cup, until you mix it all in and there are no lumps. To avoid burning, continue stirring the roux so that it doesn’t stay in one spot for long.

Early in the roux cooking process

When making the roux, since it may take 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how dark you want it, consider the following:

  • Use a wooden flat sided utensil to ensure you are moving all the flour around
  • Use a figure-8 movement while also scraping from one side to the other and repeat, over and over. Pay special attention to the corners where the flour can build up.
  • Don’t get in a hurry as you don’t want to burn the roux. Adjust the temperature as necessary. You will get a feel for how hot the oil is by the temperature, the sound, the way it sticks to the bottom of the pot and the smell. Use all your senses!
  • Don’t leave the pot and keep stirring until it’s at the color (see below) and consistency you are looking for.
  • Traditionalist would smack me around, but if you are in a hurry, you can substitute the homemade roux with pre-made from the grocery store like Savoie’s Light or Dark Roux. GG, please forgive me!
  • Hint: Get a snack and your favorite beverage before getting started.
Nice medium roux – needs to be just a bit darker

The next major steps involved the addition of the tomato sauce, the vegetables (or seasonings per GG Nita), then the ground meat. I used 85/15 ground meat but any type of ground meat will do.

Add the 2 small cans of tomato sauce to the roux and cook for 5 minutes

Add seasonings, mix, and cook until soft
Add ground meat and cook, spooning out grease as necessary
Cajun Sphagetti meat sauce

To finish the meat sauce, I add a little kosher salt and fresh black pepper to taste. I like to plate the Cajun meat sauce over spaghetti pasta with fresh or frozen sweet peas and some garlic and/or cheese Texas Toast. I personally add a bit of “Slap Your Mama” Cajun Seasoning from Ville Platte, LA, and a little Sriracha if I’m in the mood for a little heat. You season it how you like it. Of course, don’t forget to add a bit of parmesan cheese to your Cajun Spaghetti!

There are a few alternatives you can try that will adjust the flavor and/or make it a bit more healthy.

  • Try some fried bacon or pancetta. I’ve even added some browned tasso. This adds to the depth of the flavor.
  • Italian sausage can be added in either links or bulk.
  • Meatballs can be added made from either ground beef, pork, or italian sausage.
  • Mushrooms can be added as well.
  • You can cook the ground meat first and drain the grease before adding to the sauce to make it a bit more healthy.
  • Serving it over spiral cut zucchini and do away with the Texas Toast will dramatically drop the carbs.

****************************************************************************************

Real Cajun Spaghetti Meat Sauce

“Real” Cajun Spaghetti Meat Sauce

An authentic cajun meat sauce created by my wive's Great Grandmother from Breaux Bridge, LA. The Cajun way is to first make a roux using flour and oil, and that forms the base for your sauce.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs 30 mins
Total Time 3 hrs
Course Main Course
Cuisine Cajun, Italian
Servings 8

Equipment

  • Cast Iron Pot

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup All-purpose Flour
  • 1 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 2 small cans Tomato Sauce
  • 2 – 3 Onions, White
  • 4 cloves Garlic
  • 2 Peppers, Bell
  • 3 lbs Ground Meat
  • Parsley for garnishment
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Cajun Seasoning to taste

Instructions
 

  • Chop up your vegetables and put them in a bowl, cover and place them in the refrigerator. Hopefully you are using fresh vegetables from the garden.
  • Next, we need to make a roux. Put a cup of vegetable oil in your cast iron pot and bring up to medium-high temperature. Keep stirring the roux using a wooden flat edge spoon (preferably)so you keep moving the particle of flour around and so that it doesn't stay in the same place and possibly burn. This can take 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Add in the 2 small cans of tomato sauce. Mix it all together and cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Add in the cut up seasonings (vegetables). Cook until seasonings get soft.
  • Add in 3 lbs. of ground meat. Allow all the meat to brown spooning off the grease as you go (if needed).
  • Let cook for 30 minutes.
  • Add water to reach the desired thickness of the sauce.
  • Cook for 1 or more hours to really get the flavors all dancing in harmony with each other.
  • Boil spaghetti pasta.
  • You can serve the meat sauce over the spaghetti or mix the pasta with the sauce and serve together with some fresh or frozen sweet green peas and some garlic Texas toast.
Keyword Cajun, Meat Sauce, Roux, Spaghetti Sauce

****************************************************************************************

Now, enjoy the simple life by sitting with your family or friends, and eating some good Cajun Spaghetti.  Please let us know how you like this post or have suggestions on future posts.

Enjoy! Remember, if you can dream it, you can do it!

Please LIKE this post. If you have any COMMENTS or QUESTIONS, please post below. Please SUBSCRIBE to our BLOG for additional great content.