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Something Else for Jews on Christmas

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Last year I was on a one-chef campaign to bring chop suey back en vogue with an updated version for Christmas. What else is there to do on Christmas except to invite some friends over and EAT?!

This year, I will be firing up the wok again with some quick and easy pot stickers and Blood Orange martinis.

The history of Jews eating Chinese food on Christmas comes from the late 1800’s when Chinese restaurants were typically the only places open on Christmas (many Chinese are Buddhist) and welcomed Jews who were looking for an outing on the Christian holiday. The Chinese restaurants also did not discriminate and allowed Jews to patronize their restaurants. Eating Chinese food was considered sophisticated and many New York Jews would frequent the restaurants eager to try something new and worldly. Eating Chinese food on Christmas was an easy endeavor as most non-Jews were at home enjoying their holiday dinners; reservations at the local Chinese restaurants were easily had. The Chinese do not mix milk and meat and, in fact, there are no dairy products at all in Chinese cuisine. Something resembling kashrut or “safe treyf “was attainable in the local chop suey establishments. 

While many neighborhood Chinese restaurants are not serving the unique and exotic flavors that tempted Jews years ago, I still crave the Asian delicacies. This year, I am having a small get together with friends, dumplings and martinis.

Easy Potstickers

1 cup shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and finely chopped (I usually pulse the mushrooms in the food processor)

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

2 garlic cloves, finely minced

4 scallions, finely chopped

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

Dash of Asian hot sauce (optional)

½ pound ground turkey

25 wonton wrappers

  1. Mix all of the ingredients for the filling and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Place a teaspoon size amount of filling in the center of a wonton wrapper.
  3. Brush the edges of the wonton with a little water. Gather the edges together to form a parcel and pinch and twist to seal. Place the filled pot stickers on a parchment lined sheet. Continue making the pot stickers.
  4. To cook the pot stickers: Place a large sauté pan that comes with a lid over medium high heat. Lightly coat the bottom of the pan with canola oil. Place the pot stickers in the pan being careful to not put them too close together or they will stick to each other.
  5. Cook the pot stickers until the bottoms are medium golden brown (about 1-2 minutes). Carefully add ¼ cup of water to the pan (do this carefully to one side of the pan as it will steam). Cover the pan immediately and allow the pot stickers to finish cooking (about 3-4 minutes).

Dipping sauce

½ cup soy sauce

¼ cup rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

1 scallion sliced

I clove garlic, chopped

Pinch of crushed chili flakes (optional)

  1. Whisk all of the above together.
  2. Serve the pot stickers on a platter with a small bowl of dipping sauce and chop sticks.

Blood Orange Martinis

Serves 4

¾ cup citrus flavored vodka

¼ cup Grand Marnier

½ cup Blood Orange juice

¼ cup simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar brought to a simmer and cooled)

Garnishes: Blood orange sections, kumquats, citrus sections and pomegranate seeds

1. Shake martini ingredients together and pour!

Laura Frankel is an Executive Chef at Wolfgang Puck Kosher Catering and author of numerous kosher cookbooks including Jewish Cooking for All Seasons and Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes. To purchase her books, click here. For more articles by Laura, click here.
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