Today’s Recipes: Simple Pork Gyoza, Wor Wonton Soup, Baked Spring Rolls, Fresh Crab with Mango Spring Rolls, Curried Meat Filling, Gingered Butternut Squash Filling, Seasoned Meat or Seafood Filling, and Pork and Shrimp Filling
Who’s ready to celebrate the Chinese New Year? San Francisco has one of the most prominent Chinese communities in the country and we always have a wonderful Chinese New Year parade winding its way through the City. Full of bright colors, fascinating costumes, and amazing dancing dragons, it is sure to delight the child in all of us. Growing up in a multi-cultural area is fantastic and we have always been aware of the beauties of other lifestyles. When you’re young you don’t understand the implications, but as an adult I am forever grateful for that exposure.
Every year my father-in-law’s neighbors throw a huge party to celebrate their heritage. They spend weeks preparing all the food from scratch, and the entire neighborhood anxiously awaits the February celebration. We starve ourselves all day just so we have more room for their delectable offerings. All the children receive the traditional golden “coins” (gold-wrapped chocolates) for good luck and the adults look forward to seeing one another again. I have been lucky to be included for the past 15 years and it has been wonderful to see the children grow up, renew old friendships, and quietly mourn the ones no longer with us. The family has been doing this for over 35 years and each year they tell us that this is the last party, and then with unabashed excitement we joyously receive the invitation to the next year’s event! Thank you to our friends for always being so welcoming and generous!!
This year, we are having a week-long celebration of the cuisine of China – or at least the American versions that we’ve come to love. As the Chinese New Year approaches (Feb 3), you’ll be ready to throw your own party and maybe you’ll start a tradition just as rich as our friend’s! Let’s start the week with appetizers, the perfect cocktail party food.
Pot stickers or Gyoza, typically made with gyoza skins, can also be made with wonton wrappers. Typically made with a ground pork filling, you can also use ground turkey or even vegetables for more variety. They are usually closed with overlapping pleats, but if this is too difficult, seal them flat. They’ll be just as delicious! You start these in a hot skillet to give them the characteristic browned bottom, and then put the lid on and finish them by steaming. Tender and moist, it is the best of both worlds.
Making wontons can be time consuming, but if you’re going to do it, why not enlist the aid of a couple of friends, open a bottle of wine and enjoy yourselves! And while you’re at it, make twice as many so you have enough to fry and others to use in won ton soup. Two dishes with the effort of one!
Whenever you are making dumplings of any kind, always “burp” the air out from around the filling so that they don’t explode with the steam created while cooking! You can make the wontons ahead of time, then cover and refrigerate them up to 8 hours. For longer storage, place them on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. Transfer to a plastic zip top bag, pressing all the air out, and return to the freezer. No need to thaw before adding to wonton soup, but they will take about 2 minutes longer to cook. If you are using these wontons for frying, make sure they are thawed completely and at room temperature before dropping into hot oil.
One of the best things about wontons is that you can have several fillings already made and then create an assembly line to stuff different versions. Make sure you can tell which filling is in which dumpling! You can use a dot of food coloring, a different wrapping style, or use a slightly different wrapper. Or you can just do them all the same and have the equivalent of Jeopardy’s potpourri category, a surprise in every bite, LOL!
Use any of the wonton fillings below or make up one of your own. Just make sure all of the ingredients are chopped very finely. Remember that you’re only going to use about 1 tsp of filling per wrapper, and you want each one to have a blend of all the ingredients.
While wonton soup is delicious, Wor Wonton is over the top! A meal in itself, it is chock full of great ingredients. If you like a little of everything, this is the soup for you. Wor (pronounced “war”) in Chinese means a large stockpot. This soup is made with all kinds of meats and vegetables. It is a wonderful way to use up the small portions of ingredients sitting in your refrigerator. Clean tasting and good for you, nothing warms you more quickly than a steaming hot bowl of soup.
Spring rolls, sometimes called egg rolls or lumpia (depending on country of origin and fillings), can be fried or served fresh. They are found in many countries around the world, with the fillings varying depending on where they are made. Some believe that the original spring roll was a gift from Buddha himself, so that his followers could be as happy and lucky as he. I like that story and consider it lucky to serve spring rolls at the dawning of the Chinese New Year.
I have included two spring roll recipes. The first is baked and a better option if you are watching your weight. The second one calls for rice paper wrappers. They start out opaque and when you get them wet, they turn translucent. When rolled up, the filling shows through. They can be really beautiful to work with and a true showstopper on your dinner table. This is the most complex of the recipes, but for a special occasion, there is nothing better!
And don’t forget the recipes for Fried Crab Wontons with Homemade Chile Sauce that I posted a little while ago. They would be fantastic added to this menu! If you need ideas for dipping sauces, check out my post of a Dozen Dipping Sauces. So, invite some friends over and have a wonton wrapping party. Everyone will have a great time and you’ll have your party food made in no time. Enjoy!
Simple Pork Gyoza
From the Gourmet Sleuth website
2 scallions, minced
1 cup finely chopped green cabbage
1 tbsp minced ginger
1/2 lb ground pork
1 egg white
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 package gyoza or wonton papers
2 tbsp sesame seed oil
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
2 tsp minced or grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp finely chopped scallions
In large bowl combine scallions, cabbage, ginger, and pork. Mix well with a fork and season with salt. Add egg white to bind mixture together.
Place a spoonful of meat mixture on top of a wonton wrapper. Wet edge of wrapper with fingertips, make pleats on one side, fold over and seal closed. Continue with remaining meat and wrappers.
To make the dipping sauce, in a small pot stir brown sugar and sesame seed oil over med-low heat until sugar melts. Stir in vinegar, teriyaki, and ginger and bring to a simmer. Take off heat. Pour into a sauce bowl and sprinkle with scallions. Set aside.
In large skillet heat oil. Brown dumplings in oil on one side. When bottoms are brown and crispy, add water. Cover pan and steam over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until dumplings are cooked through.
Serve with dipping sauce.
Wor Wonton Soup
From Nature’s Health Foods website
Yield: 6 servings
6 dried black mushrooms
2 quarts low fat and low sodium chicken broth
6 baby bok choy, halved lengthwise
24 wontons – use one of the versions below
1 cup fresh snow peas uncooked, ends and strings removed
1/2 lb lean Chinese barbecued pork (or ham), thinly sliced
6 medium shrimp, peeled and de-veined
A pinch of ground white pepper
1/2 tsp sesame oil
Soak the mushrooms in warm water to cover for 30 minutes and drain. Cut off and thinly slice the caps discarding the stems. Set aside.
Bring the broth to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Add the mushrooms and bok choy and cook for 2 minutes. Add the wontons and shrimp and cook for 3 minutes. Add the snow peas and cook for 1 minute.
Ladle the wontons and broth into large individual soup bowls and garnish each serving with slices of barbecued pork and green onion. Sprinkle with pepper and sesame oil before serving.
Curried Meat Filling
Jane Evans Bonacci © 2010
Yield: 50 wontons
1 lb minced ground pork, chicken, or shrimp
1/2 cup minced water chestnuts
1/4 cup minced shallots
2 tbsp dried Oriental mushrooms, minced and soaked in boiling water
3 to 5 drops Sriracha or other hot chile sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1-1/2 tsp to 1 tbsp curry powder
50 wonton wrappers
Pan fry the meat, chicken, or shrimp until just done; drain. Transfer to a bowl and add remaining ingredients. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Fill wontons with about 1 tsp filling each, brush edges with water and press to seal. Place on a baking sheet and cover with a towel to keep them from drying out until ready to cook.
Gingered Butternut Squash Filling
Makes 20 wontons
1 lb butternut squash, peeled and seeded, flesh cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 scallions, white and pale-green parts only, thinly sliced
1 tsp peeled, grated fresh ginger
20 wonton wrappers
Put squash, soy sauce, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Cover with water; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until squash is very soft, about 12 minutes; drain. Transfer to a medium bowl; mash with a fork until smooth. Stir in scallions and ginger.
Place 1 scant tbsp filling in the center of each wrapper; brush edges with water. Bring up corners to make a triangle; press to seal. Place on a baking sheet; freeze until firm, 10 to 15 minutes.
Pork and Shrimp Filling
From Natures Health Foods website
Yield: 24 wontons
1/2 lb ground pork
1/4 lb medium raw shrimp, shelled, deveined, and coarsely chopped
3 tbsp Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp white pepper
24 wonton wrappers
Combine everything except the wonton wrappers in a bowl; mix well.
Place 1 heaping teaspoon of filling in center of a wonton wrapper; keep remaining wrappers covered to prevent drying. Brush edges of wrapper with water and fold wrapper in half to form a triangle. Press excess air out, pinch edges to seal. Pull two opposite corners together, moisten one corner with water, and overlap with another corner; press to seal. Cover filled wontons with a towel to prevent drying out.
Seasoned Meat or Seafood Filling
Yield: enough to fill 60 wonton wrappers
2 baby bok choy, finely chopped and par cooked in boiling water for 1 minute; drain
1/2 lb ground pork, beef, turkey, chicken, or crabmeat, lightly cooked
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp sherry
4 water chestnuts, chopped finely
1 scallion, chopped finely
1/2 egg, beaten
Squeeze bok choy to remove all excess water. Combine all ingredients and use to fill wontons. You can use wontons in a soup or fry them.
If frying, bring 2 to 4 cups of vegetable or peanut oil to 400°F. Cooking 10 to 12 at a time, fry for about 3 minutes or until deeply golden brown. Drain well. Serve hot.
Baked Spring Rolls
Posted on Food.com
Yield: 20 large spring rolls
20 large square spring roll wrappers
6 cups finely shredded cabbage
2 large carrots, peeled and grated
1 lb lean ground turkey or lean ground pork
2 tbsp peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp salt
Vegetable oil, for brushing
Plum sauce, for serving
Combine the cabbage and carrots and set them aside.
In a large skillet, fry the meat with the ginger, salt and sesame oil until just done. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a large bowl.
Drain off any excess fat (but don’t wash the pan) and wilt the shredded cabbage and carrots in 2 tbsp of water, until just limp and the water is gone. Mix with the meat.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Brush each spring roll wrapper lightly with oil, turn over, and place it with one point facing you. Put a little of the filling in a tube shape diagonally across the bottom point of the wrapper. Fold in the side corners, and then roll up to make a neat tube. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
Lay the finished spring rolls on a lightly oiled cookie tray. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve hot with plum sauce.
Fresh Crab and Mango Spring Rolls with Spiced Macadamia Nuts
Executive Chef Bridget Batson, Hawthorne Lane, San Francisco
Yield: 12 rolls
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of 1 orange
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 shallot, peeled and minced
3/4 cup canola oil
Spiced Macadamia Nuts
1 tbsp orange zest
1 tbsp lime zest
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 egg white, whipped until frothy
1 tsp powdered ginger
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1-1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup macadamia nuts
1 whole Dungeness crab, cooked, meat removed from shell
1 ripe mango, peeled, seeded, and cut lengthwise into 1/4″ by 1/4″ strips
1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
1 (8 oz) package rice vermicelli noodles, cooked, drained and chilled
12 leaves butter lettuce, use outer leaves only
12 sprigs fresh cilantro
12 sheets rice paper (12-inch rounds)
8 cups water
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
To make the Lemon Vinaigrette, whisk all ingredients together except the oil and shallots. Allow to sit fifteen minutes then strain out the ginger and citrus seeds. Add the shallots and slowly whisk in the oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
To make the Spiced Macadamia Nuts, combine all ingredients except the nuts and mix well. Toss the nuts in the spice mixture until well coated then pour onto a greased cookie sheet and bake in hot oven, turning frequently, until toasted golden brown. You can also do this in a skillet on the stove if you prefer. Cool and chop coarsely.
To make the Spring Rolls, place the noodles on your work surface and cut pile into thirds. Combine the cooked rice noodles with the crabmeat, the chopped herbs, 1⁄2 cup of the spiced macadamia nuts, and 1/4 cup of the lemon vinaigrette. Season to taste with salt and pepper and refrigerate until ready to assemble rolls.
When you are ready to assemble the rolls, bring 8 cups of water to a boil in a pot large enough to accommodate the rice wrappers and add 1⁄2 cup rice wine vinegar. Remove the water from the heat and dip the rice wrappers into the hot water until completely softened then lay out flat on a wet work surface.
Place one leaf of butter lettuce in the bottom center of the wrapper and top with 2 strips of fresh mango. Add 1⁄2 cup of the crab and noodle mixture and 1 sprig each of mint and cilantro. Fold the bottom of the wrapper up over the fillings and then fold the sides in. Last, roll up tightly from the bottom to form the roll. Transfer to a tray or platter.
Repeat for all twelve rolls. Cover with a damp cloth until ready to serve.
When ready to serve, slice each roll in half, cutting them on the diagonal. Place one half on the serving plate and prop the other half on the first, cut side up. Garnish the plates with remaining nuts.
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