Final Cookbook Preview – Freezer dumpling ravioli
These things don’t involve a lot of thinking and rationalizing; they aren’t even bothered by common decency or responsibilities. I eat them free of my own judgment
This will be the last, but not least, recipe preview from our cookbook – The Art of Escapism Cooking that is coming out on Oct 15th!
It is one of the seven recipes in a little chapter I call, The Shit I Eat When I’m By Myself, a continuation of course, of our recipe category here under the same title in this blog. I felt the need to create this category because it answers both the questions of why I cook, and why I eat. As the chapter intro in the book sums it up:
“I don’t cook for myself. Or at least, not the way it looks on my blog or in the rest of this book outside this section. I don’t know how it reflects on me as someone who’s selling recipes, but in my view, cooking and eating are two very different, entirely separate areas of investigation. Cooking, to me, is about curiosity, the insatiable need to know beyond necessity, the compulsion in the process of unwrapping a question, rephrasing it again, moving on to the next, the hunt. Eating is about comfort. I rarely find enthusiasm in repeating the same recipes, answering the same questions. But I can eat the same things over and over again. These things don’t involve a lot of thinking and rationalizing; they aren’t even bothered by common decency or responsibilities. I eat them free of my own judgment.”
I also want to thank Sam Sifton from New York Times for mentioning this recipe in his newsletter. And please remember to pre-order our cookbook! Now here’s how to make it:
FREEZER DUMPLING RAVIOLI
Once upon a time in a high school somewhere in Vancouver, there lived a school cafeteria that sucked. The word cafeteria itself was a gross exaggeration; human-operated vending machine would have been more appropriate. Because, aside from soda and gum, the cafeteria sold one thing and one thing only—reheated canned ravioli in tomato sauce. To this day I can’t quite decide whether it’s because it was the only hot dish available or because it was actually delicious, but it holds a small, nonetheless lasting spot in my heart. If this recipe appears somewhat crude to your liking, consider it an upgrade from my public school offering.
A quick note on Asian freezer dumplings: their convenience and availability are as vital to maintaining social stability and domestic peace as delivery pizzas are in the United States. They are almost always cooked in boiling water, but this one-pot method lets the dumplings absorb the flavors from the sauce as it reduces, and in reverse, helps the sauce thicken as well. That one teaspoon of sugar is the key to turning a grown-up, respectable tomato sauce into the childish version that we all secretly crave. Don’t let go of it.
- One 14-ounce (400 mL) can of peeled plum tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
- 1 garlic clove, thinly shaved
- Leaves from 2 fresh thyme sprigs
- Pinch of chile flakes
- 2 1/2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
- 12 pork freezer dumplings of your choice, unthawed
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
- Canned plum tomatoes are usually submerged in some kind of tomato water/juice. If your tomato juice from the can is nice and thick, great, but if it’s very watery, pour out a couple of tablespoons. I like to use an immersion blender to make a smooth puree of the tomatoes, but you can crush them with your hands as well.
- In a small pot over medium-high heat, combine the olive oil, garlic, thyme, and chile flakes and simmer, stirring, until the edges of the garlic just start to barely brown. Add the pureed tomatoes, fish sauce, and brown sugar and cook for 5 minutes, until reduced slightly. Add the dumplings, turn the heat to medium, and cook, maintaining a gentle simmer and stirring frequently to keep the dumplings from sticking to the pan, until the sauce has reduced to a thick tomato sauce consistency.
- Stir in the cream, then serve with lots of Parmesan and dashes of extra-virgin olive oil.