Friday, March 4, 2011

Sichuan Wontons - These are Seriously Awesome!

Last night I made Pasta a la Stuff in a hurry and didn't feel like posting about it.  Instead, I'll post about something I made a few weeks ago that was awesome!  Dumplings and wontons are some of my favorite things to eat, but they're so time consuming!  Generally I like to make a big batch and then freeze some so that I can have them more than one night.  There's a restaurant near my office that serves "spicy Chinese ravioli" as an appetizer and it has some of the best dumpling sauce I've ever had.  It's a spicy, tangy soy sauce with sliced green onions in it.  The "ravioli" are served swimming in the sauce, which is part of the reason I love it so much.  The sauce on these wontons comes close, but I want to tweak it and see if I can get it closer to the sauce I've had in the restaurant.  I found this recipe for Sichuan wontons on one of my favorite food blogs, Appetite for China.  Everything I've made from there has been amazing. 

Despite being labor intensive, these are easy to make.  Dave and I made them while watching TV.  Instead of eating them as an appetizer, these were a meal!  I was afraid it wouldn't be enough food so I made a side of Random Noodles (barely in the picture) that turned out to be totally unnecessary. These wontons are excellent, and the freeze and reheat well.  A few days after I made them, I reheated some of the frozen ones and they were just fine, I just cooked them a little longer. 









I doubled the recipe (both wontons and sauce because I wanted a lot of sauce), but otherwise followed it to the letter, except I added extra onions.  A lot of extra onions.  The "boat" shape shown in the original recipe was difficult and looked wrong when I tried it, so I stuck to the "crossed hands" shape.

Before I get to the recipe, a word about Sichuan peppercorns.   They're not related to black pepper.  When eaten, they make your mouth tingle a little bit, so if you've never had them before, you might want to taste them first and see whether you like them.  Regardless, don't go overboard with them because they can overpower a dish.  That said, they add a distinctive and authentic flavor to dishes that call for them.  I bought mine at Penzeys Spices. Since Sichuan peppercorns aren't related to black pepper, I don't think that black pepper is a good substitute for them.  If you can't get them, my best guess is to just omit it entirely and not bother trying to find a good substitute (though if anyone has a better suggestion let me know!). 


Sichuan Wontons
from Appetite for China
Makes 60 wontons.  (Original recipe serves 4 to 6 as an appetizer) 

Ingredients:
Wontons
1 lb ground pork
4 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
4 scallions, thinly sliced (I used 6)
1 egg, beaten (the original recipe only called for 1 egg and I didn't need 2 to seal the wontons)
1 package wonton skins (my package had 60 skins in it).

Sauce
2 Tbsp minced garlic
4 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp chili oil
4 tsp Chinese black vinegar or good quality balsamic vinegar (I used balsamic)
1/2 tsp ground Sichuan pepper


Method:
1) Combine pork, sesame oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl and mix until well incorporated.  The filling should be slightly sticky and wet.
2) Beat the egg lightly with a fork.  It will be used to seal the wonton wrappers.  I used a silicone brush that looks kind of like this one
3) Turn on the TV or DVR and find something you like to watch, otherwise you're going to get bored.  I recommend Pawn Stars
4) Angle a wonton wrapper so it faces you like a diamond.  With a brush, spread a thin layer of egg along the top two edges of the wrapper.  Place one heaping teaspoon of filling in the center of the wrapper.
5) Fold the bottom tip to the top tip and press out as much air as you can.  Press down on the sides with your fingers to seal the wonton into a triangle.  Place a dab of egg on the left tip and then fold the two tips together to look like a pair of arms crossed over the part of the wonton that is filled with meat.  Make sure the left tip (with the egg on it) is on top.  Fold it over the right tip and press down a little.  Place the wonton on a baking sheet or large plate.
6) The original recipe states to keep finished wontons and wonton wrappers covered with a slightly damp towel to prevent them from drying out.  I didn't have a clean dish towel around, so I didn't do this.  Some of the ones I made first did start to look a little dry and I got concerned.  But, they still turned out ok.  I think they would have gotten seriously dry if there hadn't been two of us working.  Next time, I'll just use a damp paper towel. 
7) Repeat steps 5-6 until you run out of wonton skins.
8) Mix the sauce ingredients in a bowl until sugar dissolves. 
9) Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Put the wontons in and boil for 3 to 4 minutes until the wontons float to the top.  (Work in batches if you make a ton of wontons).  If you plan on freezing some of the wontons, don't boil them!  Just toss them in a freezer back and put them away.
10) Remove wontons from pot using a slotted spoon, place them in a bowl and pour the sauce over them.  Sprinkle with scallions and serve. 

If you freeze the uncooked wontons, they need to boil for longer to cook.  It took ~6  minutes for them to rise to the top of the pot when I reheated them.  But, the meat was completley cooked and they tasted fine.

3 comments:

Michelle said...

NOM NOM NOM NOM! :D

I have only made something similar once, but I look forward to making more. Maybe Gabe will like these better than my cabbage-and-tofu pot stickers. Thanks for the freezing tip!

BTW, if you want to make pot stickers, use the round wrappers. Heat some oil in a pan, set the stickers sealed-side up in the hot oil, and after a couple of minutes, pour in some water and slam on the lid. (And, um, be careful, because water on hot oil reacts violently! Use the lid as a shield.)

If you are concerned about raw meat not getting cooked, you can cook the filling before putting it in. (I read that somewhere. . .)

Cheers!

Mark said...

Hi, I was just wondering if you could tell me where you got both the bowl and plate used in this post? Thanks!

Scienter said...

Hi Mark! My dish set is "Urban Nature" by Villeroy and Boch. You can see all of them here:
http://www.villeroy-boch.com/en/us/hotel-restaurant/products/novelties/urban-nature.html
Both Macy's and Bloomingdales carry it. When I bought them, they weren't part of their hotel and restaurant line, so I don't know if that impacts their availability in home stores.

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