TriathlEats: A Versatile, Healthy Asian Dish

These Asian dumplings, typically associated with Nepalese cuisine, can be made with chicken, shrimp or pork.

Photo: Kristin Teig

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Boston chef and triathlete Ernie Quinones shares a versatile, healthy Asian dish.

Chef Ernie Quinones grew up in Southern California, giving him exposure to every type of cuisine and culture, but he found he especially loved Asian food. These Asian dumplings, typically associated with Nepalese cuisine, can be made with chicken, shrimp or pork. They’re simple to make and healthy, since they’re boiled instead of fried.

8 oz chicken, shrimp or pork, diced
1 tsp ginger, chopped
¼ cup white onion, chopped
3 sprigs fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp cumin powder
Salt and black pepper to taste
16 white dumpling wrappers
Bowl of water

Prepare a cookie sheet coated with cooking spray and a damp cloth near the bowl of water to prevent the momos from drying. Using a food processor, mix your selected protein, ginger, onion, cilantro, cumin powder, salt and pepper into a heavy paste. Remove mixture from the processor and place into a large mixing bowl. Using one hand, hold the dumpling wrapper, wetting the edge with water. Using a teaspoon, scoop the mixture into the dumpling wrapper. Pinch the edges of the wrapper together, place on the cookie sheet and cover the tray with the damp cloth. Place in refrigerator for 10 minutes. In a large saucepot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add the chilled momos to the pot, letting cook for four to six minutes or until the protein is fully cooked (cut one momo open to be certain).

Meet the Triathlete-Chef
In 1990, while majoring in business in college, Ernie Quinones often cooked to relieve stress. One of his best friends noticed his passion for cooking and encouraged him to pursue it as a profession, and Quinones has been cooking ever since. He’s now the executive chef at the University of Massachusetts Club, a private business club in downtown Boston. The menu changes seasonally, he says: “In New England, we’re subject to the seasons because of the weather here,” which affects the locally sourced food.

After attending the Culinary Institute of America, Quinones worked as a pastry chef at the Four Seasons. He was then recruited to help open a restaurant in Boston named Mantra in 2000, where he started as a pastry chef but worked his way up to sous chef, then executive chef.

But while his career was on the rise, his health was headed in the opposite direction. When the scale hit 205 pounds for the 5-foot-4 Quinones (“You’re always eating, tasting and picking”), he knew he had to take control. He started cycling to lose weight, and then, four years ago, he decided to enter a triathlon. “I did it and I fell in love—I just loved the competition,” he says.

He joined Landry’s Triathlon Club, and enjoys the sport even more because of the camaraderie: “It has the quality of a family,” he says. He’s raced up to a half-iron-distance race, but enjoys the Olympic distance, which he plans to race more of this season.

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