Sunday, March 18, 2018

My Mom's Taiwanese Zongzi (粽子)

I've been paddling in the annual Boston Dragon Boat Festival for over a decade now, and every year I consider trying to make zongzi, the traditional food eaten for the festival, but by the time the festival rolls around, I always find myself too busy with the races or traveling to attempt them.  This year I decided to get a head start (the festival is celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th month of the lunar calendar, so June 18 this year).  If you don't know what zongzi are, they're packets of sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaves (or sometimes lotus or banana leaves).  The fillings differ depending on where you are, and sometimes they're even sweet!  The ones I grew up with were filled with marinated pork, shiitake mushrooms, fried shallots, peanuts, and sometimes chestnuts and/or dried baby shrimp.  I've also had versions with salted duck egg yolks and Chinese sausage in them too.

Even beyond the fillings there are different ways to wrap zongzi.  The ones my mom makes are shaped like tetrahedrons, whereas I've also seen them wrapped in a rectangular shape.  Some of the recipes I've found online cook the zongzi in boiling water for up to 8 hours, but because the filling is cooked before being stuff in the sticky rice, you only need to cook these for an hour.  My mom told me that in southern Taiwan they boil it for even shorter by wrapping cooked sticky rice and boiling just long enough to impart the bamboo leaf flavor.

I posted a picture of these zongzi on Instagram and mentioned that when I had asked my mom for the recipe, she told me it would be too hard to make.  I don't think my mom has ever told me something would be too hard for me to do before, so it only made me want to make them even more.  I was really surprised to read in the comments though that a lot of other people had the same reaction from their mothers when they had asked them for their recipe!  I wonder if that's what their moms told them too, and they're just passing the advice along.

Since these are indeed very difficult to make, I wanted to share some of the tips I figured out while trying to figure it out myself:
  • Soak at least 1.5 times as many leaves as you think you'll need.  A good portion of mine would tear while I was trying to wrap them at which point you have to start all over.  Don't throw those leaves away, though!  Fold them in half vertically, and use wrap the outside of any of your more precariously wrapped zongzi to add another layer of protection.
  • Be very careful handling the leaves.  The edges are razor sharp and will give you a wicked paper cut!
  • My mom folds the bottom of the leaves up so that the root ends don't stick out, but a lot of other people just cut that end off.  
  • My mom ties a bunch of strings to a doorknob so there's tension on the string when you try to tie it around the zongzi with one hand (the other hand is used to hold the zongzi tightly closed).  Some of my friends mentioned that their moms would use a broomstick set across two chairs for the same purpose.  I read somewhere that you can also hold one end of the string between your teeth, and actually that method worked the best for me, although I know my dentist friends would definitely frown on that because there's a chance of chipping your tooth from all the tension.
  • I found that the easiest way to tie the string around the zongzi was to place it close to the anchored end and use your free hand to wrap the other end of the string multiple times around the zongzi.  You want to try to wrap it around the "equator" of the tetrahedron, so that there are two corners on either end.  This will help keep the string in place, otherwise it may fall off when you're cooking it (I know from experience).
I made this video to show you how to wrap the zongzi, but after showing it my mom to confirm it's how she wraps hers, she said she does it differently!

How to make zongzi

Then she sent me a link to this video which she said is more like how she wraps it.  I love listening to it because you hear a mixture of Taiwanese and Mandarin which is kind of like what I heard growing up.  That said, if you wrap it my way, you'll get smaller zongzi and will probably be able to make at least 24 with the amount of ingredients below.  If you wrap it the way my mom does, you'll make fewer but, larger ones.

Taiwanese-Style Zongzi
makes 12-24 depending on how you wrap them

3 1/2 cups glutinous rice
6 oz. bamboo leaves
8 dried shiitake mushrooms
1/2 cup raw peanuts
2/3 cup soy sauce, divided
2 tablespoons rice wine
2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 lb. pork belly
1 tablespoon oil
2 tablespoons fried shallots
Kitchen twine

Soak glutinous rice in room temperature water for 2 hours or overnight.

Soak bamboo leaves in room temperature water for an hour or overnight, weighing them down so they're completely submerged.

Soak shiitake mushrooms in room temperature water for an hour or overnight, also weighing them down so they're completely submerged.  Soak the peanuts for an hour or overnight in a separate bowl.

Combine 1/3 cup soy sauce, the rice wine, and 1 tablespoon of sugar in a medium bowl.  Slice the pork into bite-sized pieces and marinate in the soy mixture for an hour.

Cut the kitchen twine into 60" pieces (this is easy for me since that's my wingspan).  Gather them all together and fold in half.  Make a loop knot at that halfway point so that there are now twice as many pieces of 30" long twine connected at the top by a loop knot. 

Wash the bamboo leaves thoroughly after they've softened.  Drain the rice and then add the remaining soy sauce and sugar and mix.  Cut the ends off the mushrooms and slice the caps into quarters.  Drain the peanuts.

Heat a large wok or pan over medium heat and add the oil.  Add the sliced mushroom, pork, and fried shallots.  Stir fry until the pork is almost completely cooked through.  Transfer to a bowl.  Add any liquids left in the pan to the rice and mix well.

Set up your work station:  hook the twine over a sturdy latch-style doorknob or cabinet handle*.  Have the bamboo leaves, seasoned sticky rice, peanuts, and meat mixture nearby with a large spoon.

Grab two of the leaves and with the smooth sides facing you, position them so that they overlap slightly on the bottom and angle towards each other at the top.  Fold the bottom half inch up and over so that the tough root end doesn't stick out anymore (or cut off the bottom half inch)*.  Now fold the sides of the bottom of the leaves together like a book.  Fold the bottom inch or two up along one side and then open up the leaves so that it forms a short cone.

Continue to grip the bottom of the cone with one hand and use the other hand to place a large spoonful or two of the rice in the cone.  Pack it down well, then add a spoonful of the cooked filling, making sure to get a bit of each of the ingredients.  Cover the filling with another spoonful of the rice and pack it down again.  Fold the top of the leaves over the rice so that now you have a 4-sided pyramid.  Fold the remaining portion of the leaves that are still sticking out together and then continue to wrap around the pyramid.  Holding the pyramid tightly with one hand, use the other hand to wrap the twine around the middle a couple of times and then tie it off tightly.  Leave it hanging from the twine and wrap the rest of the zongzi.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and submerge the zong zi.  Continue to cook for an hour, until the sticky rice is cooked through.  Drain and let the zong zi cool before unwrapping to eat, discarding the leaf.  Serve with sweet chili sauce and/or soy paste.  These freeze very well, just microwave to reheat!

*See my tips above for variations.

Previously:  Candied Carrot Rose Tart
Last Year:  Japanese Chicken Curry Rice
Two Years Ago:  Tropical Pulled Pork on Griddled Banana Bread Sandwiches
Three Years Ago:  A Better Homemade Pasta Recipe
Four Years Ago:  Mushroom Marsala Pizza
Five Years Ago:  Peking Duck Pizza
Eight Years Ago:  Bacon Fat Caramels
Nine Years Ago:  The Feng Family Secret Peking Duck Recipe

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Candied Carrot Rose Tart

When I first found out that the ingredient for this season's collaboration was carrots, my heart sank.  Because, you guys, I hate carrots.  Always have, always will.  I'll eat them if I have to, but I would never go out of my way to make a recipe spotlighting them.  But the more I thought about it, the more I decided:  challenge accepted!

At first I thought about doing some sort of carrot cake, because that's the only way I like carrots--when I can't taste them.  But then I decided I could push the envelope a little farther and came up with this tart, which is basically a deconstructed carrot cake, cream cheese frosting and all!

I used Dorie Greenspan's spiced tart dough from her book Baking:  From My Home to Yours, the cookbook the Food52 Baking Club is going through this month.  It works well for this tart because it has the nuts, cinnamon, and cloves traditionally found in carrot cake.  The filling is just a simple mix of cream cheese, sour cream, and sugar.

But the candied carrot roses is probably what you want to know about.  I got that idea from Stella Park's Bravetart cookbook when the Food52 Baking Club went through that book a couple of months ago.  She covers the technique on Serious Eats and her own blog, so I didn't bother taking pictures myself (plus, sticky hands + taking pictures = not good).

In order to make sure that I made enough roses to cover the top of the tart, I found a plate that was about the same size as the tart and kept making the roses until the plate was covered.  It took me a little less than 6 large carrots to get there, including a bunch of ribbons that were too short.  And I had to candy all the carrot strips in 3 batches since they wouldn't all fit into the syrup at once.  If you want some extra shine/sweetness, you could brush some of the leftover poaching syrup onto the roses just before serving.

Candied Carrot Rose Tart
makes 1 tart

Your favorite tart shell, fully baked and cooled
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cup sugar, divided
Juice from half a lemon
1 cup water
1/2 a cinnamon stick
6 long, thick carrots

Use the paddle attachment in a stand up mixer or hand mixer to combine the cream cheese, sour cream, and 1/2 cup of sugar.  Spread into the tart shell and chill while you make the carrot roses.

Combine the remaining 1 cup of sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon stick, and water in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer.

Cut off the carrot tops and peel.  Then, using the vegetable peeler, peel the carrots into long, thick strips.

Once all the sugar has dissolved in the syrup, add a third of the carrot strips.  Cook for about a minute, then turn off the heat and allow the strips to cool in the syrup.

Pick up one of the strips and squeegee the excess syrup off with your fingers.  Hold the thinner end with one hand and start twirling the rest of the carrot strip around it to form a rose.  Tuck the end underneath and set it down on a plate about the size of your tart pan.  Repeat with remaining strips until you have enough to cover the plate, and thus, the top of your tart.

Carefully transfer the carrot roses to the tart and return to the fridge until ready to serve.

Check out the rest of the bloggers who participated in the #24carrotgoals collaboration below:

Square Meal Round Table’s Rainbow Carrot and Ricotta Tart
Better with Biscuits’ Carrot Souffle
This Healthy Table’s Beet and Carrot Galette
Figs & Flour’s Thai Peanut Pizza
Flours in Your Hair’s Carrot Pecan Cookies
What Great Grandma Ate’s Paleo Carrot Mug Cake
More Icing Than Cake’s Spiced Quinoa & Roasted Carrot Salad
Hot Dishing It Out’s Vegan Carrot Whoopie Pies
Katie Bird Bakes’ Carrot Cake Scones
Easy and Delish’s Carrot Spaghetti
Smoothies and Sundaes’ Carrot Cake Sourdough
Cosette’s Kitchen’s Sumac Carrot and Feta Salad
Measuring Cups Optional's Carrot Curry Soup
Rezel Kealoha’s Turkish Yogurt Carrot Dip
Pies and Prejudice’s Carrot Pie with Maple & Cardamom
Rumbly in My Tumbly’s Chai Carrot Pie
Cook Til Delicious’ Mini Carrot Cake
It’s a Veg World After All’s Zesty Sunflower Carrot Spirals
Butter Loves Company’s Iced Carrot Cake Cookies
Smart in the Kitchen’s Curried Carrot Ginger Soup (Whole30)
Cocoa and Salt’s Classic Carrot Cake
A Modest Feast’s Pomegranate-Molasses-Glazed Carrots With Crispy Chickpeas and Feta

Next:  My Mom's Taiwanese Zongzi
Previously:  Pork, Cabbage, and Tofu Dumplings
Last Year:  Salted Egg Yolk Mochi Ice Cream
Three Years Ago:  Burmese Coconut Noodles with Tofu
Four Years Ago:  Grilled Cheese Egg in a Hole
Five Years Ago:  Passion Fruit Marshmallows
Eight Years Ago:  Kalua Pork
Nine Years Ago:  Tomato and Eggs over Rice

Friday, December 15, 2017

Pork, Cabbage, and Tofu Dumplings

Next up in my updated posts is my mom's pork and cabbage dumplings!  I made these slightly healthier by substituting some of the pork for tofu and reducing the soy sauce, sesame oil, and sugar a bit.  See my original post from 9(!) years ago for a lot of tips and tricks to making and cooking the dumplings (as well as to see how my photography skills have improved over the years, haha).

Pork, Cabbage, and Tofu Dumplings
makes about 80

1-1.5 lbs. ground pork
1 medium head of napa cabbage, roughly chopped
19 oz. firm tofu
2 bundles of bean thread vermicelli
4 scallions
1/2 cup soy sauce
4 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon sugar
80 dumpling skins (about 2 packs)

Press the tofu between a couple layers of paper towels for 15 minutes.  Soak the bean thread vermicelli in lukewarm water for 15 minutes.

Use a food processor to finely chop the napa cabbage and scallions.  Transfer to a large bowl.  Chop the softened noodles and add to the cabbage.  Crumble the tofu into the bowl and add the pork.  Add the soy sauce, sesame oil, and sugar and mix well.

Fill the dumpling skins and seal the wrappers with a little water on the edges.  Boil or steam-fry the dumplings and serve.  If not eating immediately, place the plates of filled dumplings in the freezer until firm, then transfer to freezer bags.

Next:  Candied Carrot Rose Tart
Previously:  My Mom's Steamed Bao Buns
Last Year:  Pull-Apart Scallion Swirly Bread
Three Years Ago:  Puppy Chow Pie
Four Years Ago:  Miso Pumpkin Soup
Five Years Ago:  Homemade Ramen Noodles
Eight Years Ago:  Tim Tam Slam Ice Cream
Nine Years Ago:  Pork and Cabbage Dumplings

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

My Mom's Steamed Bao Buns

I first wrote up my mom's hua juan recipe almost 9 years ago so I figured it's time to give a little update.  You can use this recipe to make regular steamed mantou, or fill them to make different types of baozi, but my favorite is still hua juan, which is just the regular bao dough with a sesame-scallion glaze twisted into a flower shape.

I recently came across this new way to shape bread called a Winston knot.  There aren't many videos of how to make it online, and the one I used wasn't even that good, but once you get the idea it's pretty easy.  You can make it with two single strips or two double strips like I did here.  I think the most popular one I've seen is with two triple strips; the resulting bun looks like a volleyball!

The first step is to make an X with the strips.

Then you'll cross one half of the bottom strip over.

Now take the strip that's on the bottom of this picture and weave it through the other 3 strips.

Continue taking the strip on the bottom (or on the right after rotating 90 degrees) and weaving it through the other 3 strips.

When you run out of dough to weave, smush the ends all together.

Then roll the braid up into a ball with the smushed end on the inside.

That's it!  For these buns I decided to apply the sesame-scallion glaze only on the inside of the bun so the outside would stay immaculately white.

My Mom's Steamed Bao Buns
makes 12 buns

A heaping teaspoon of active dry yeast
1 cup milk, warmed to 100-110°F
3 cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons of sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Turn the oven on to the lowest setting (mine is 170°F).

Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk.  If you don't have a thermometer, the milk should feel a little warmer than a fever.

Combine the flour and sugar, then add the milk mixture and oil.  Mix together until a dough forms and knead a few minutes until smooth.  Cover the bowl and place in the oven.  Turn off the heat and let the dough proof for an hour or until doubled.

Once the dough has doubled, remove from the oven and turn the oven on again to the lowest setting.  Punch the dough down and knead a few more times.  Divide into twelve equal pieces (I divide in half twice and then divide each quarter into thirds).  Shape and fill the dough at this point if desired.  Place each bun on a square of parchment paper.  Cover and place in the oven, turning off the oven again.  Let proof another 40-60 minutes.

Steam the buns for 13 minutes.  I use my stockpot with the pasta insert as one level and the steamer insert as a second level so I can steam 6 at a time.

If not eating immediately, freeze and reheat in the microwave before eating.

Next:  Pork, Cabbage, and Tofu Dumplings
Previously: Slow-Roasted Ginger Scallion Salmon
Last Year:  Cranberry Curd Tart
Three Years Ago:  Puppy Chow Pie
Four Years Ago:  Thai Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango
Five Years Ago:  Vanilla Passion Caramels
Eight Years Ago:  Wah Guay (Taiwanese Rice Cake with Meat Sauce)
Nine Years Ago:  Beef Noodle Soup and Lu Dan

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Slow-Roasted Ginger Scallion Salmon

I was first introduced to slow-roasted salmon when the Food52 Cookbook Club was going through Samin Nosrat's Salt Fat Acid Heat back in September.  I tried the citrus version with lemon vinaigrette first and was absolutely smitten.  As incredible as the citrus and vinaigrette were, I think it was the salt and slow-roasting that made the dish truly exceptional.  It made a regular farm-raised salmon filet taste like a wild-caught Copper River King salmon!  The salmon was moist, rich, and buttery without being slimy or fishy.  I also tried her soy-glazed version, and it turned out amazing as well, but having to baste the fillet every 15 minutes was kind of too fussy for me.

I decided I needed to combine the recipe for Grace's ginger scallion fish with this method of cooking salmon and found some friends who were interested in testing out the recipe.  I also found some friends who had poor reading comprehension and thought I was offering them free food, haha.

We tested roasting the salmon with the skin side up, down, and skinless, and I found that skin side down worked the best.  The skin shielded the fish from too much heat from below, and this version produced the least dry fillet.  The skin never really gets crispy, though, so unless you enjoy rubbery skin, I wouldn't serve that part.

Also, the reason I wrote that the salmon should be straight from the fridge is because some people were using frozen salmon which they let thaw on their counter before using.  Their salmon came out overdone in the time frame I gave so, if you are also making this with warmer-than-refrigerator salmon, reduce the time in the oven accordingly.

Slow-Roasted Ginger Scallion Salmon

1 lb. salmon fillet, straight from the fridge
2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine (if you don't have any, just use more water)
2 tablespoons water
1 bunch scallions (about 6 oz.), green parts only
1-2 inch knob of fresh ginger, thinly sliced
Kosher salt
Vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 225°F.

Combine the sugar, soy sauce, rice wine, and water and heat for 1 minutes in the microwave.  Stir to dissolve the sugar.

Line a small baking dish with the scallions and ginger and place salmon on top, skin side down.  Season the salmon liberally with kosher salt and coat with oil.  Pour the soy sauce mixture over the fish and roast the salmon for about 40-50 minutes, or until a thermometer stuck into the thickest part reads 110-120°F.

The fish should still look a lot like how it did when it went in (i.e. almost translucent), so if you don't have a thermometer, check for doneness by poking the thickest part; it will start to flake once it is ready.

Serve with rice and spoon some of the sauce on top for extra saucy goodness.

Next:  My Mom's Steamed Bao Buns
Previously:  Deep Fried Apple Dumplings with Miso Caramel Dipping Sauce
Last Year:  Pear Apple Cranberry Slab Pie
Two Years Ago:  Pad Thai
Three Years Ago:  Raindrop Cake
Four Years Ago:  My Mom's Taiwanese Sticky Rice
Five Years Ago:  Grapefruit Pie
Eight Years Ago:  Nanaimo Bars
Nine Years Ago:  Homemade Crystallized Ginger

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Deep Fried Apple Dumplings with Miso Caramel Dipping Sauce

You know how sometimes something is really, really hyped up and you're just like, "uh huh, okay, but it can't actually be that amazing."  Well, I just wanted to let you know that miso caramel is *actually* that amazing!  I first heard about it on Food52, but then I noticed that some of my favorite food bloggers were also incorporating it into their apple pies and raving about it.  It is rather rich and strong so it might not be for everyone, but if you like salted caramel and miso, you'll probably love this caramel too.  The best way I can describe it is "flavor bomb".  Try it on ice cream, in apple pies, with apple slices, or just straight out of the jar!

The reason I even decided to make miso caramel is because I was invited by Rebecca and Ruth from Square Meal Round Table to join a fall collaboration with a bunch of other Instagrammers/food bloggers centered around the prompt #Aisforalltheapples.  I had the idea to make apple dumplings, but not the American baked kind using pastry dough; I wanted to make them with Hong Kong style dumpling skins and shape them like pot stickers.  Get it?  Instead of pan-frying them, though, I was going to deep fry them like McDonald's used to fry their apple pies!  And I figured to continue with the Asian twist, I'd pair the apple dumplings with miso caramel sauce.

When it came time to shape the dumplings, I decided to go a little crazy with the pleating since I knew I wasn't making that many, but it's entirely unnecessary to do that many pleats.  In fact, I also experimented with making a couple that were just folded in half, sealed, and then crimped with a fork so that the looked like little hand pies (see above).  This shape was actually the easiest to fry evenly and dip in the caramel, so I'd probably make them this way in the future, unless I specifically wanted the pot sticker shape.

Deep Fried Apple Dumplings
makes about 2 dozen

2 apples (I used gala but fuji or pink lady would work too)
3 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cornstarch
Pinch of salt
Dumpling skins
Oil for frying

Peel the apples and finely dice.  Mix with the brown sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch, and salt in a small saucepan.  Heat over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, until the apples are tender and liquid starts to form.  Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.

Wet the edges of the dumpling skins and fill with the apple mixture.  Seal tightly.

Heat the oil in a pot to 350°F.  Fry the dumplings until golden brown and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.  Serve immediately with the miso caramel dipping sauce (recipe below).

Miso Caramel Dipping Sauce (from Minxeats via Food52)
makes 1 pint

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons white miso

Heat the sugar and water over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil and continue to cook without stirring until it turns a medium amber and wisps of smoke just start to appear.  Immediately remove from heat and whisk in the heavy cream.  If the caramel seizes, just return the pan to low heat and continue to whisk until everything is liquid again.  Whisk in the miso.  Pour into a glass jar and store in the refrigerator if not using immediately.  Rewarm briefly in the microwave before using after refrigeration.

Check out the rest of the entries in this collaboration below!

Next:  Slow-Roasted Ginger Scallion Salmon
Previously:  Crane Rangoons
Last Year:  Pear Apple Cranberry Slab Pie
Two Years Ago:  Pad Thai
Three Years Ago:  Mochi Donuts and Pon de Rings
Four Years Ago:  Bahian Style Moqueca (Brazilian Fish Stew)
Five Years Ago:  Magical Pumpkin Spice Latte

Monday, October 16, 2017

Crane Rangoons

I've been toying with the idea to make these ever since I saw an article on Food52 about someone who folded wonton skins into origami cranes and deep fried them.  Naturally the only logical progression would be to stuff them with cream cheese and make crane rangoons, right?

My mom taught me how to fold paper cranes when I was a kid, and it's basically muscle memory for me, but if you're not familiar with how to fold a crane you'll definitely want to practice with paper first.  One thing I realized as I was doing research for this post is that the way my mom taught me how to fold a paper crane is different than the most popular way on the internet.  In fact, I can't seem to find a single tutorial showing the method my mom taught me!  It's a very disorienting feeling to realize that something that you thought everyone else knew is actually just something only your family knows.

Anyways, for science, I tried both ways with a wonton skin, and there doesn't seem to be too much of a difference.  I think the hollow space in the crane's body may be a tad larger using my mom's method, and the tail and head are a bit fatter so it's a little easier to have a defined head.  Both honestly, I'm not sure those differences are a big enough of a deal to learn a new way to fold a crane, especially since it's hard enough folding one with a wonton skin.

You will want to get the freshest, most pliable wonton skins you can find, and the thinner the better.  The ones I used weren't a perfect square, but you can still get a pretty decent looking crane.  Also, instead of making perfect creases like you'd usually do with paper, you want to try not to press down too hard on any folds so that the wonton skin doesn't break.

After I finished folding the cranes, I microwaved them for 8-10 seconds, just enough to make them a little stiffer, but not totally cooked.  Basically I watched them as they microwaved and pulled them out as soon as they started to distort.  At that point, I was still able to manipulate them back into the desired shape.

Then I whipped up some softened cream cheese with some chopped scallions and a pinch or two of salt.  To fill the cranes, I used a piping bag with a no. 12 round tip.  A slightly smaller tip would probably have been a little better, but you don't want to use a tiny one or else the scallions might get stuck in the tip.

I deep fried the crane rangoons in 375°F oil until they were golden brown.  After some trial and error, it seemed like frying them upside down was the best way to get them to cook as evenly as possible.  When they were done, I let them drain on a paper towel-lined plate.