26 January 2010

Everything In Its Place ... Cooking Chinese

Tonight I am making a couple Chinese dishes. That means everything must be prepped first, as there is no lingering over the cutting board once the wok is fired up and ready to go. While chopping, I think about how I came to explore Chinese cuisine. Silent Bob and I took a trip to the west coast around the time of our 10th anniversary. We flew into San Francisco and spent a few days exploring the city and soaking up the tourist attractions. Finding our way into the Chinatown neighborhood, we ate in a few small  family-run  places. One afternoon, though, we happened into an upscale place called The China Moon Cafe.
Little did I know that it was the brainchild/think tank belonging to Barbara Tropp, one of the finest American interpreters of Asian cuisine. All I knew is that we were hungry, had tired feet, and needed a break from all the tourist action. We ordered a plate of spring rolls and tea while we looked at the luncheon menu. I had no idea what was coming our way. The springrolls were the lightest and most flavorful little taste bullets that I'd ever experienced. Long story short, I came away from San Francisco vowing to myself that I would learn to make quality Asian food.

Ever since that trip, I have been determined to learn some good tricks for preparing Asian recipes - velveting meats, wines for sauces, interesting ways of prepping vegetables for stir-frys, good tempura batters, aromatics combinations. I've gone through periods when I would cook Asian for days at a time for the family. It always worked out well, as I had pre-teens that were voracious and happy to try new things. I always wondered if they appreciated the effort and preparation that went into producing a Chinese foodfest. They never said, but their clean plates seemed feedback enough. The kids are gone at this point, but I still love a heaping plate of spicy garlic pork lo mein, a deep bowl of stir-fried rice with shrimp or chicken, wontons in a hot chili sauce, pot-browned noodles with five spice pork and spinach or, or, or...

 I have tried over the years to make those springrolls, but they just never come close... so I've stopped trying. Instead, I have worked at making a few other dishes that I think Ms. Tropp would have smiled over. Much later, I read that she died after a long fight with ovarian cancer - what a loss to the cooking world.

Tonight, my friends, I give you Stir-fried Wontons in Sichaun Sauce. This recipe comes from an easy little tome called  Betty Crocker's New Chinese Cookbook that's been edited by LeeAnn Chin. Don't be fooled by the Betty Crocker moniker ... this is a stellar recipe. Have a friend come by to help you slice and dice and wrap wontons. Sip some wine, line up the ingredients, wrap the wontons and then ... fire up that wok!

Stirfried Wontons in Sichuan Sauce - printer friendly

Stir-fried Wontons in Sichuan Sauce

Wonton Filling:

¼ lb. raw medium shrimp(in shells), shelled, washed and de-veined
2 oz. lean ground pork
3 whole water chestnuts, minced
2 green onions (with tops),chopped
1 tsp. cornstarch
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. sesame oil
dash white pepper

Sichuan Sauce:

1/3 c. ketchup
¼ c. Hoisin sauce
2 tsp. chili paste
1 tbsp. soy sauce

24 wonton skins
1 egg white, beaten
2 tbsp. peanut oil

Making the wontons:

1. Chop the prepared shrimp finely and combine with the other ingredients. Use your hands to smash the mixture until it is completely incorporated. Chill.
2. Place wonton skins on a plate and cover with a damp cloth. Working with one or two at a time, place ½ to 1 tsp. of filling in the middle of the skin.
3. Dampen the edges of the skin with egg white by dipping your finger init and smoothing the egg white along the edges.
4. Fold the wonton – one corner to another to form a triangle. Seal the edges/
5. Dampen the ‘top’ corner with egg white and bring the two ‘lower’ corners in to form ‘purse’.
6. Set aside under a damp cloth.
7. Meanwhile bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the wontons. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 2 minutes.
8. Spoon the cooked wontons into a bowl of cold water and allow them to cool.

Making the sauce and assembling the dish:

1. Combine the ketchup, Hoisin sauce, chili paste, and soy sauce and mix well.
2. Heat a wok and then add the peanut oil.
3. Carefully stir in the sauce and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.

Drain the wontons and add them to the sauce. Lower the heat a bit and cook, gently tossing the wontons in the sauce until coated and hot (about 3 minutes).

This dish can be plated, covered and quickly re-heated in a microwave, if you have other dishes that you will be preparing as part of an Asian foodfest.

1 comment:

  1. Sprout Sara31/1/10 8:43 PM



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