Wondrous wontons (Chef Scotty B)

Wonton soup
Wonton soup / workeatlaughrepeat.wordpress.com

With this wondrous wonton recipe I’ve taken a bit of a liberal approach to a Chinese classic by adding some Japanese flair.

Dashi is to Japan what olive oil is to Italy; and fish sauce is to Thailand. I had heard the term ‘Dashi’ here and there in my early cooking years, but it wasn’t until I took a drastic leap and actually worked in a Japanese restaurant that I understood its importance. The embodiment of Umami, or as we Gaijin call it, the 5th taste, Dashi is as simple (or complex) as the warming of Kombu (Japanese kelp sea weed) in water and then adding Katsuobushi, or bonito flakes (made from dried, smoked bonito fillets which are then shaved impossibly thin). However variations on ratios, methods, and ingredients are endless! (I added left over prawn shells to this one). I have heard it said that if a hundred chefs made Dashi you would have 100 different results.

So here is the bastard son of two neighbouring cuisines, steeped in centuries of tradition and conflict. I’m not sure either would approve of this union, but this is my blog so f*&k ’em. Here is my Japanese/Chinese Wonton soup.

Finished wontons
Finished wontons

Wontons

  • Servings: 50 pieces
  • Time: 1hr
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 300g whole prawns
  • 500g fatty pork mince (the fattier the better)
  • 12g garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 8g ginger peeled finely chopped
  • 80g garlic chives washed and roughly chopped
  • 10g light soy sauce
  • 25g Kombu tsuyu (soba noodle sauce)
  • 8g sesame oil
  • 16g shanghai vinegar (black vinegar)
  • 6g salt
  • 2g ground black pepper
  • 1 packet of yellow wonton pastry (roughly 60 sheets should do)

Method

Remove the head and shells from the prawns and reserve for use in our Dashi. If using large prawns such as tiger prawns, remove the intestines by lying the tail flat on your chopping board and making a shallow cut along the back (outward facing) side of the tail lengthways, and then scrape out that poop shoot. Once cleaned, roughly mince the prawn meat with your knife.

Next, heat a small amount of oil in a fry pan to a moderate heat (shimmering but not smoking) and sauté your garlic chives until soft. Transfer to a bowl and put them in the fridge to cool. Once your chives have cooled, get a large metal bowl and mix together all your ingredients, except the wonton skins (if you were going to mix in the wonton skins I want you to leave the kitchen right now, as you probably shouldn’t be around sharp things or hot surfaces).

Time to get dirty! Get in there with your hands and give that fucker a good seeing to, slap that pork! Seriously, once well combined, pick up handfuls of your mix and throw it vigorously into the bottom of your bowl with force. Pounding the mix in this way will work the fat through the mix and break down the protein bonds in the meat to create a more homogeneous mixture. It should feel smooth like a good bread dough.

Heat a large pot of water to boiling. Take a wonton skin in one hand, and holding it on an angle (so the square becomes a diamond) place a teaspoon of mince mix in the center, wet your index finger on your spare hand and use it to apply a small amount of cold water to the top two sides of your diamond. Fold pastry in half encasing the the mixture, and working from one side to the other seal the edges together being sure to force out all the air as you go. Air trapped inside will expand during cooking leaving you with a sloppy mess instead of a wonton! If you want to get all fancy you can take the two sides of your now triangular pastry and fold the bottom two corners in front and glue them together with water as before (like a tortellini) and then turn the the top flap down (turn the whole thing inside out) to give you a beautiful little dumpling. Boil your wonton gently for 4 minutes and then taste. Adjust seasoning if required. Repeat folding method with the rest of the mince until you have used all the mix (or run out of pastry).

Dashi

  • Servings: 1Lt
  • Time: 2hrs
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 10g dried kombu
  • 8g dried shitake mushrooms
  • 1 Lt cold water
  • 10g katsuobushi (bonito flakes)
  • reserved prawns heads and shells

Method

In a medium pot combine the kombu, shitake and cold water and gently heat until you have reached 70ºc. At this point add your prawn bits and your bonito flakes, and remove from the heat. Place a lid on your pot and allow the flavours to infuse for 2 hours. Strain off the solids and reserve the liquid for this is your holy elixir of Japanese deliciousness; Dashi.

To Serve

  • 2 spring onions finely sliced into rounds
  • 1 head of bok choy (Chinese cabbage) leaves removed and stems slices thinly lengthways
  • one bunch of fresh coriander leaves carefully picked and refreshed in ice water
  • 1 Tbsp of Laoganma crispy chilli (chilli flakes will do but use ½ tsp)

Heat Dashi in a medium pot and season to taste with kombu tsuyu (soba noodle sauce) and a pinch of sugar. Gently boil 6 wontons per person for 4 minutes (the rest will survive, well wrapped in the freezer for about a month). Place wonton evenly around the bottom of a shallow bowl and pour hot Dashi into the bottom until wontons are mostly covered with liquid sprinkle chilli and spring onions over wontons and into broth. Carefully place bok choy sticks leaning upright against wontons and then lay coriander leaves sparingly around the plate. Take a second or two to marvel at how amazing you are, and ponder the deeper meaning of your existence. Now eat that shit!

If this all seems a little too intense, Renee G’s family Wonton soup is waiting just around the corner…

Advertisements

One comment

Please leave any feedback… We welcome your comments

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s