Wontons appear all over southern China. In the United States, we most often see them served Guangdong- style, as shrimp and pork packets floating in a pork broth. Near the Yangtze, wontons are much larger and usually served in pale broths with shreds of omelet, laver seaweed (nori), and green onions. This particular preparation from Sichuan is my favorite. It’s basically a street food, and I have very fond memories of eating it in busy alleys, sitting on a bamboo stool, and watching the world bustle by. As in most Sichuanese dishes, the chili-laden sauce packs a punch, but here it is sensu- ously tempered by the juicy wonton filling.
Wontons in Chili Oil
- 2 inches fresh ginger more or less
- 1 ½ cups unsalted chicken stock divided into 1⁄2 cup and 1 cup
- 1 ½ pounds boneless pork shoulder or any other percent fat cut of pork, chilled
- Sea salt to taste
- 2 large eggs lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons mild rice wine
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 3 green onions white parts only, trimmed and finely minced
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 package 16 ounces thin wonton wrappers
- Flour for dusting
Sauce (may be doubled)
- 3 tablespoons red chili oil with toasty bits page 435, or to taste
- 3 tablespoons light soy sauce or to taste
- 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil or to taste
- 2 cloves garlic finely minced, optional
- Sugar to taste
- 3 green onions green parts only, trimmed and cut into thin rounds
- Ground toasted Sichuan peppercorns
- Cut the ginger into roughly 1⁄2-inch pieces, then whirl it in a blender or food processor with 1⁄2 cup of the stock. Strain the liquid, squeezing out every last drop of ginger-flavored stock into a bowl before discarding the fibrous mass left behind.
- Chop the pork finely by hand (see page 458). If you wish to use a food processor, cut the chilled meat into 1-inch cubes and pulse it.
- Place the minced pork in a large work bowl and use your hand as a paddle to beat in the ginger-flavored stock, salt, eggs, soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, the whites of the green onions, sesame oil, and the black pepper. Slowly add the remaining 1 cup stock in small incre- ments so that the pork absorbs all of the liquid (see page 458). It will be light and fluffy at this point. Chill the filling for an hour or longer, if you have the time, as this will firm it up and make it easier to wrap.
- Before you start wrapping the wontons, place 2 baking sheets next to your work area, cover them with clean tea towels, and dust these with some flour; have a couple of extra towels on the side to cover the filled wontons. Place a couple of tablespoons of cool water in a small bowl next to the filling bowl, as well as a flat piece of wood or a small blunt knife. (You’ll use both to wrap the wontons; see the diagram below.) If you are going to cook these right away, pour water (at least 8 cups) into a large pot and bring it to a boil just before you are ready to cook.
- Wrap the wontons; you will end up with 80 to 90. You can prepare uncooked wontons ahead of time: place them in a single layer on the towel-covered pans and place in the freezer for a couple of hours, until frozen solid. Transfer the wontons to a freezer bag. They do not need to be defrosted before cooking.
- Mix together the sauce ingredients, taste and adjust the seasoning as desired, and divide the sauce among as many bowls you wish; double the amount of sauce if you really enjoy spicy flavors.
- To cook the wontons, drop them in small handfuls into the boiling water while stirring with a wooden spoon. As soon as the water returns to a boil, pour in about 1 cup cold water. Bring the pot to a boil again and pour in another cup of cold water. When the pot boils a third time, the wontons should be floating gracefully.
- Use a Chinese spider or slotted spoon to gently remove the wontons into the prepared bowls, draining off as much of the water as you can. Toss them lightly in the sauce and sprinkle with the chopped green onions and the ground toasted Sichuan peppercorns to taste. Serve immediately.
“Reprinted from All Under Heaven. Copyright © 2016 by Carolyn Phillips. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House.”
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