Who doesn’t LOVE a good wonton or dumpling, hmm? Well, as much as I advocate healthy eating, I'm not opposed to the occasional Oil-immersed Delight. I once heard, “If it ain’t fried, it ain’t food!” ;) Honestly, my feeling is that if One is conscientious most of the time, it’s Big Fun to make them at home and that way, you know exactly what’s in them and you can use the best quality ingredients possible, thereby ensuring no unexpected reactions to mystery preservatives, flavor enhancers or bits of unwanted allergens, AY? Exactly.
I made these at a Farmers’ Market cooking demo a while back, been wanting to get this up to share and here we are, hoping You will be inspired to experiment with Your own favorite elements in those wraps which I see as a Blank Canvas, ready for play…
Filling options: (just think stir-fry…or get crazy and go fusion with elements from other cultures!)
Japanese or Chinese Eggplant, 1 whole, small dice
Scallions, 3-5, depending how much you like ’em
Carrot, 1, teensy dice
Broccoli, one teensy head (1 cup?), chopped small
Zucchini or Yellow squash, 1, small dice
Bell Pepper, 1/2, small dice
Mushrooms, (shiitake are esp. good), “a few” 😉, chopped
Firm tofu, 1/2 lb., small dice or crumbled
Cabbage, any kind but Napa is nice, 2 c., thinly sliced or chopped
Garlic and Ginger, fresh, minced approx. 1 heaping Tablespoon of each
Basic Asian seasonings: a splash of soy sauce, black pepper, a pinch of clove & star anise (optional), sesame oil
veggies of choice, small for quick cooking
Time to COOK!! Grab your skillet, add a bit of good quality oil, (sunflower or another high-temp. one) and when oil is hot, add tofu. Cook briefly over high heat and when lightly browned, add Basic Asian seasonings, the garlic and ginger and a pinch of crushed chili pepper OR 1/2 tsp. of minced fresh jalapeno, unless you like it hotter! Cook briefly and gradually add veggies in order of cooking time, e.g. carrots first since they take longer, then stagger the rest, leaving the quick cookers for last and cook just until warm and tender. Remove from heat.
Next, place a wonton/dumpling wrap on a clean, dry surface and place a small amount of filling in the center. This may take practice and experimenting but the easiest method is to wet your fingertip, moisten the edge and simply fold the wrap over the filling; when you get confident you can play with sealing methods, like gathering the edges into a “purse” shape or any way that closes it completely. Be patient and adjust the amount of filling as needed. Make a whole bunch of ’em and freeze extras! Leftover filling can be used in a salad, a tortilla with greens or scrambled eggs, anything you can think of…
Now, a deep-fryer is nice and all, but you can use much less oil in a small skillet. I use about 1-2″ of peanut oil and heat the oil over a high heat, being careful to avoid smoking! A thermometer is a great investment so stay around 360 or just pay close attention, watch for heat ripples, splash some water and if it sizzles, you're ready. I flip them once or twice with tongs or one of those cool wok strainer tools. Make sure to use a splatter guard, tho’ they ain’t perfect, eh? Drain on paper towels. Serve hot! (Cold fried food= yuck.)
Fry-o-licious: until golden and crispy
Dipping sauces are fun and you can drizzle some on your lovely creations for a party platter. An easy traditional sauce is just a tamari base with a splash of sesame oil, a bit of rice vinegar, maybe some mirin: Boom! Done. ('course a lil' minced shallot can't hurt or a garnish of thinly-sliced scallion)
For Something Completely Different, at this same demo I got some salmon belly and made a super easy filling with it and some beautiful asparagus, onion and fresh dill; you can get decadent and add cream cheese to that, serve with a Mustard dipping sauce. Daaaang…
Cool, hunh?! So many possibilities await!! You can bring some over to the neighbors ‘cuz you’ll make tons and they’ll be smelling the goodness, wondering what the heck you’re up to, drooling into their TV dinners... Also, dumplings, wontons and fresh rolls are obviously ideal party foods and are a fun group activity where you can prep lots of different ingredients that guests can get creative with; we love to do this with sushi and make a variety of nori rolls. Nice to have a balance of fried and fresh, y'know?
So, indulge consciously and have FUN!! And thanks soooo much for visiting The Intuitive Kitchen…