Category Archives: Chinese cabbage

Duck & Pear Wontons 


I recently found myself craving wontons and decided that the best way to find ones I liked was to make them myself. I had always been intimidated by the prospect of making these bite sized morsels but much to my surprise, and delight, while time consuming, they are incredibly easy to make.

As wontons are small items and you want to experience each of the flavors and ingredients in every bite, you want to make sure each of the ingredients is finely chopped. Never one to waste a delicious ingredient, I used my rendered duck fat as the oil for sautéing the remaining ingredients. If you don’t have duck fat you can substitute vegetable oil. (But I think that duck fat adds more flavor to the dish). Because the wontons taste best when they are freshly steamed, you can make them ahead of time then cook them when you are ready to eat.

And now that I’ve made them, they are sure to make a regular appearance in my kitchen. Simply put, they are delicious.



2 skin-on duck breasts

2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or duck fat)
2 pears, peeled cored, and diced small
1 cup Chinese cabbage, finely shredded
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
2  cloves garlic, minced
4 green onions, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
40  wonton skins

1/2 cup of your favorite soy or dipping sauce

  • Place the duck breasts, skin side down, in a cold cast iron skillet set over low heat.
  • Slowly render the fat off of the duck breasts until the meat is medium rare. Remove the duck from the pan and allow to cool.
  • Heat the duck fat in the skillet set over medium-high heat. If you don’t have enough fat add additional oil to total 2 tablespoons.
  • Add the diced pears, Chinese cabbage, garlic and green onion to the pan and saute for one minute.
  • Sprinkle the mixture with Chinese five spice mixture and cook for an additional minute.
  • Remove from the heat and add in the cilantro and season with salt and pepper.
  • When then the duck is cool enough to handle, remove the skin from the meat and dice the breast.
  • Add it to the cabbage mixture and stir well to combine.
  • Working with one wonton wrapper at a time, place a small amount of the duck mixture in the center of each wrapper.
  • Moisten the edges of the wrapper with a small amount of water then bring the edges together to form a pocket, pinching the edges to seal.
  • Set aside and repeat until all of the wonton wrappers have been used.
  • Working in batches, (be careful not to crowd the wontons) steam the wontons in a steaming basket until the wontons are translucent. This should take about 4-5 minutes per batch.
  • Serve immediately dipped into your favorite sauce.

Yields: 40 wontons


Gingered Beef Broth With Soba Noodles

This recipe has been adapted from the original one published in Williams- Sonoma’s Soup of the Day. It caught my eye since I had been gifted with a very large quantity of soba noodles and was looking for a way to put a dent in my supply.  The fact that this soup is very easy to make is an added bonus.

The original recipe calls for the addition of bok choy into the broth.  In typical Albanian fashion I had spotted some earlier this week in one of the local grocery stores.  Upon my return, however, not only was there no bok choy to be had but no one in the store even knew what bok choy was.  (Such is life and grocery shopping in Albania).  The store did have Chinese or Napa cabbage so I used that as a substitute.

2 green onions
3 cups beef broth
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 Chinese cabbage, cut into 1-inch chunks
1/4 lb thinly sliced white mushrooms
5 oz soba noodles
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Sriracha sauce for serving (optional)
1)  Thinly slice the green onions, reserving the white and pale green parts in one bowl and the dark
     green parts in a separate bowl.


2)  In a large, heavy pot, combine the broth, 3 cups water, the ginger, garlic, and the white and pale
     green parts of the onion.
3)  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.  Strain
     the liquid, discarding the solids, and return the broth to the pot.
Broth a steeping
4)  Season with salt and pepper and keep warm over low heat.
5)  In a frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil.  Add the Chinese cabbage and mushrooms
     and saute, stirring frequently, until the vegetables begin to caramelize and soften, about 6 minutes.
     Set aside.
A double dose of veggies


6)  Return the broth to a boil and add the soba noodles. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes.  Add
     the Chinese cabbage, mushrooms, and soy sauce an stir to combine.
7)  Serve, garnished with the dark green onion slices.  Pass the hot sauce at the table, if using.
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