So I haven't posted in foreverrrrrr to this blog because a LOT has happened in the past year, other than the COVID19 pandemic, of course. Earlier this year we moved to Illinois because my hubby got a new job and everything changed after that. We quit our jobs, he started his new job, we sold our house in New Jersey, bought a new house in Illinois and moved over here within the span of a couple months. Looking back on it now, I don't even know how we managed such a feat, but it certainly helped that his new company paid for all of the expenses and moving company. It's crazy how much stuff we'd accumulated over the short span of a few years, and so I got rid of a TON of stuff and still managed to move with a giant truckload! We've been living in Illinois since May now, and I have just started to get back into the groove of things, in terms of doing things that I wanted to do, for myself.
Since moving out here, we realized our town does not have many good Asian food options, and we did try some of the offerings around, though none of it memorable. I craved all the things we usually had easy access to in NJ and NYC, and being out here all alone really made me miss real, authentic foods from my culture. If we wanted anything remotely good, we'd have to drive about 2 hours to Chicago to find something. There is a town about an hour from us with slightly more authentic Chinese food, but it's still just so-so. So now, I end up making a lot of the foods we crave. Within the first 2 months or so, I made hundreds and hundreds of assorted dumplings and wontons, one of our favorite foods, which brings me to today's recipe post!
Wontons (雲吞) are a favorite in our family and a type of dumpling that I have fond memories of. These dumplings are a favorite of my father's and his favorite were from a very specific no frills restaurant that he would frequent in Hong Kong that served up "Ping Pong ball sized" wontons filled to the brim with fresh shrimp mixed with a touch of pork and served in a delicious clear broth. Cheap, fast, and delicious was the name of the game when it came to food in Hong Kong--especially street food or casual food. Nowadays, we always reminisce about how delicious the ping pong ball wontons were from Hong Kong whenever we have wontons or make them at home!
Traditional wontons are dumplings that are typically filled with pork, shrimp, or a combination of both. In Hong Kong and China, wonton soup often includes 大地鱼 or bian yu, also known as dried sole or flounder that adds a real hit of umami when the wontons are submerged in it. Some dried flounder powder is sometimes added to the wonton filling as well. It's been pretty hard to find this dried flounder powder in the USA, but with some online googling, I'm sure you can find it if you truly want an authentic wonton experience. For this recipe, we don't use dried flounder powder, but it still tastes great and goes wonderfully with noodle soup or on its own.
In my recipe, we use shrimp and pork, some Chinese staple seasonings and sauces, and ginger. The trick to a shrimp-ilicious wonton is to mix a combination of chopped chunk shrimp and pounded shrimp paste with some ground pork.
With 2 pounds of shrimp, I clean and devein all of them, removing the shells, and then chop 1 pound into small chunks, and then with the remaining 1 pound of shrimp, I take the back of my knife and "pound" each individual shrimp into a paste. This results in a wonton with a "crunchy" and smooth mouthfeel from the 2 varying textured shrimp filling.
(You will see fibers pulling apart into strands). This process of mixing until the pork is "起膠" or "hei gao" in Cantonese, which means that it will have a good firm, and "bouncy" texture when cooked. When a dumpling filling does not "hei gao", it will have a loose texture that results in a bad mouth-feel when you eat it. Here's a photo of what "hei gao" looks like.
Once your filling is ready, you'll spoon some onto some thin wonton wrappers which you can find at most Asian markets, and now increasingly can be found in the refrigerated sections of non-Asian supermarkets. I usually find them where they keep their tofu selections, which is also where they keep egg roll wrappers if you need to find some! I like to fold my wontons in half, then bring the ends together to "hug" the wonton.
I love to wrap a whole bunch of wontons and dumplings in one sitting so that I can store them in the freezer. After you are done wrapping them, place each finished dumplings onto a flat pan lined with parchment paper. After they are frozen, you can throw them into a freezer gallon bag to save space in the freezer.
It's so easy to use these for a quick meal or if we don't feel like really cooking--just pop them out of the freezer and throw them in some boiling water until they float! I've also discovered that wontons and dumplings get super crispy and delicious if you spray them with oil and put them in the air fryer at 380 degrees F for about 8 minutes, then flip and fry for 2-6 more minutes until they reach your preferred doneness. Healthy and yummy with no deep frying and making a mess in the house? Yes please!
I definitely recommend eating this with the recommended spicy chili garlic dipping sauce and I hope you enjoy this wonton recipe!
SHRIMP & PORK WONTONS
1 package of wonton wrappers (50-60 wrappers)
Spicy Chili Garlic Dipping Sauce:
I hope you enjoy this recipe, it's one of our favorites!
Until next time,
This is pan fried turnip cake, or 香煎蘿蔔糕, a delicious turnip cake that is first steamed with daikon radish, Chinese sausage, shiitake mushrooms, dried shrimp and scallions that is pan fried until crispy and golden brown.
Chinese turnip cake always makes me think of busy dim sum Sundays with family and friends and is such a nostalgic dish. Like my shrimp cheung fun recipe, this was born out of a craving during the COVID19A quarantine and wanting some luo bak go and not being able to go out for dim sum!
This is such an easy recipe—it's one of those one pot recipes where you throw everything togeher and let it cook. There's only a little prep work involved where you have to shred the daikon radish and stir fry the ingredients before mixing all of it in a bowl. To steam the turnip cake, I used a 12x3 metal circle pan that fit my wok, but you can honestly use whatever you have on hand and you can separate the batches depending on the size of your pan and steamer. Steam for an hour, let cool completely and it's ready to eat! Or, my favorite way is to cut it up and pan fry with some oil for a great crispy outside and soft turnip cake inside. I typically like to cover it and leave in the fridge overnight for it to settle and then crisp it up for breakfast or dim sum brunch the next day!
I'm so happy that we can now enjoy this dish at home and I hope you enjoy it too!
Recipe Serves 8
Until next time,
To be honest, my experience with Indian cuisine goes only so far as dishes that are popular in America--Chicken Tikka Masala, Butter Chicken, Tandoori meats, Roti, Naan bread, Curry, etc. I definitely can't claim to be very knowledgeable when it comes to Indian cuisine, and I have to admit that because of my inexperience with it, I've been scared to try new dishes in authentic Indian restaurants because I like to stay in my comfort zone of what I do know and recognize on the menu. That being said, I am very blessed to work with people from different cultures and my coworker Urvi brought in this tasty Indian snack called Sev Puri, or Chaat to share with us at work. The second I put the Puri chip into my mouth, I knew I had to get my hands on the recipe! The moment I swallowed, I put my hand on Urvi's arm and said, 'Please teach me how to make this!!'
It was so delicious that I wanted to learn to make it at home too, like all the time. The flavors of this Sev Puri Chaat recipe are incredibly fresh and simply bursting with flavors and textures. Crispy, tangy, sweet and has a hint of spice (dependent on how much pepper powder you put in it). From the first bite, this snack will take you on an adventure through flavor town and *sings* a whole new world...a new fantastic point of view...
If you've never had Chaat, the only way I know how to describe it is an Indian version of nachos topped with salsa. However, because there is no cheese, the dish is much more light, and therefore so very easy to eat lots of! (Not that you should eat too much of anything, but it's not as heavy and greasy as nachos with cheese and all the fixings). Urvi graciously welcomed me into her home and allowed me to film her showing me how to make the Sev Puri. I was happy to learn that the ingredients were all relatively inexpensive and are easy to find in any Indian supermarket. (I look forward to making a trip to an Indian supermarket soon!) Furthermore, the recipe was mostly assembly work so it was pretty quick to put together.
She also explained the different kinds of spices typically found in Indian kitchens and even showed me her expansive spice cabinet! It was very impressive, and definitely something I need to take notes on in organizing my own spice cabinets!
Isn't this spice box pretty? Apparently it's very common in Indian kitchens. Almost looks like an artists' paint palette!
After we were done filming, and I got a belly full of delicious Sev Puri Chaat (along with a take home baggy for Wilson to try...and for me to ultimately eat all of...shhhh!), Urvi showed me the rest of her beautiful home and even showed me the personal praying temple in her room. I didn't take a picture of it, but she had pictures of all the different Gods that she and her husband worship in the Hindu religion. It was very interesting to learn about, and both the imagery, stories, and ornate details in the little praying temple's architecture was amazing to see. The experience of learning another culture's food and hearing Urvi's stories were so fascinating, and beautiful to say the least. I felt so lucky and grateful to Urvi for welcoming me into her home, her kitchen, and teaching me so much about herself and her culture!
In any case, here is the awesome recipe that you really have to try! There aren't any measurements for the toppings since it really depends on how much you yourself want to eat and your own preferences. So top away!
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do! I can't wait to make this again!
Just a gal who loves to eat and cook ❤