Cooking Class: Pork and Cabbage Potstickers at Everyday Noodles
Cooking Class visits the kitchens of area restaurants whose chefs share their popular recipes.
Longtime Pittsburgh restaurateur Mike Chen already operated five other Chinese restaurants in the Pittsburgh area, but he wanted a restaurant serving “real Chinese food,” not Americanized Chinese dishes like a sweet General Tso’s chicken — a dish not found anywhere in China.
Authentic Chinese General Tso’s chicken “comes with skin and bones and is spicy, not sweet,” he says. “Even a simple thing, like an egg roll — usually we make a spring roll, and only at New Year’s.”
Shortly after Chen opened Everyday Noodles in Squirrel Hill with authentic Chinese dishes, 90 percent of the patrons were Asians, a testament to the restaurant’s authenticity.
Now, about 50 percent of the diners at Everyday Noodles are non-Asians, who can savor traditional Asian dishes like dim sum, soup noodles and bubble tea.
“I bring South China (cuisine) and North China mixed together,” Chen says. Northern China has a drier climate, so the drier soil is more conducive to growing barley. Rice, which requires plenty of water, is grown in South China.
To ensure the authenticity of the dishes, Chen brings in well-trained chefs from Taiwan to teach his chefs how to prepare various dishes, which they do behind plate-glass partitions. There, patrons can view the staff stretching noodle dough or steaming dumplings.
“With Chinese cuisine, the preparation time is very long — cooking time is very short,” Chen says. He says Everyday Noodles is “fast-casual” with a hometown flavor.
“Everything is handmade,” Chen says.
Manager Ady Leong, 38, of Upper St. Clair says the handmade noodles and soup dumplings are the restaurant’s biggest sellers.
Eight soup dumplings — with soup inside the dumpling — are served with pork for $9, pork and crabmeat for $11 and shrimp with loofah — available Sundays only — for $12.
Everyday Noodles serves a variety of appetizers, soups, steamed dumplings and steamed vegetables, dim sum, rice, dry noodles and desserts.
Among the dim sum selections are pork and vegetable potstickers for $8 and shrimp, pork and vegetable potstickers for $8. The restaurant also sells a pan-fried green-onion pancake for $6.
Noodle soups include braised beef or braised beef and tendon soups, each $11, shrimp and pork wonton soup for $9 and shiitake mushroom and bamboo shoots soup for $8.
Everyday Noodles has a unique nonalcoholic beverage: milk tapioca-pearl bubble tea, made with fresh milk and tapioca “bubbles,” for $4.50. The drinks can be customized with additions such as coconut-lychee jelly, Azuki red beans, caramel and mango puddings and grass jelly. Imbibers have a choice of any of two toppings, with additional toppings priced at 50 cents each.
“Bubble drinks are traditional drinks from Taiwan,” Leong says. While both hot and cold bubble drinks are available in Chen’s native country, Everyday Noodles serves only cold bubble drinks.
Chen, 61, of Murrysville was born and raisedin Taiwan,immigrating 38 years ago to Los Angeles at age 22. He moved here after marrying a Pittsburgher and began operating China Palace in Monroeville in 1988. Additionally, Chen owns China Palace in McCandless and previously sold two others. He owns Sushi Two in Shadyside, Tamari in Lawrenceville and Tamari North in Marshall.
“I’ve lived in Pittsburgh longer than I lived in Taiwan, so I consider myself a Pittsburgher,” Chen says.
Chen says he has a very loyal staff in all his restaurants, making managers and chefs shareholders in them.
“That’s the only way I can keep consistent flavor,” he says. “Management means everything. My oldest employees have been with me since I opened China Palace in 1988 … You don’t want to lose the good people.”�
Sandra Fischione Donovan is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.
Pork and Cabbage Potstickers
1 1⁄2 pounds of cabbage, washed and cut into fine pieces
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
10 ounces ground pork
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1⁄2 teaspoon white pepper
1 pack (50 count) Chinese dumpling skins
1⁄4 cup chopped fresh chives
1⁄2 cup water, plus more for sealing dumplings
1⁄2 cup cornstarch
Dipping sauce (see recipe)
In a large bowl, mix the cut cabbage with the salt and let it sit for 30 minutes. Squeeze the juice out, making sure the cabbage is very dry.
Add the ground pork, sesame oil and white pepper to the cut cabbage and mix. In a separate bowl, mix the 1⁄2 of cup water and 1⁄2 cup of cornstarch.
Take a dumpling skin and fill it with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the pork-cabbage mixture. Take a bit of water and seal the dumpling so it resembles a half-moon. Repeat with the remaining dumpling skins and filling.
Place eight dumplings upright in a hot skillet or wok and ladle in a bit of the water-cornstarch mixture. Steam until the dumplings are cooked, for 12 to 15 minutes. Turn them onto a serving plate and repeat for subsequent servings. Serve with the dipping sauce.
Makes 4 servings.
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1⁄2 tablespoon black vinegar
1⁄2 teaspoon sesame oil
Mix the ingredients and use the sauce as a dip for the dumplings. The quantities can be increased proportionately if more sauce is desired.