Wontons in Winter

Snow flurries swirled in the impending gloom as we scurried into the warm, teeming hub that is H-Mart, my favorite Korean/Asian store. Grabbing a cart, I veered briskly to the right, straight to the cornucopia of fresh fruits and vegetables that leave the pathetic produce section of local grocery chains in disgrace. Business-like, we strategize the plan of action…hubby staying guard with the shopping cart and my handbag, while I dart nimbly through the throngs, nabbing some broccoli rabe here, some foot-long string beans there, with the occasional adventurous selection of taro (cooks just like potato) or tender coconut (for the perfect electrolyte fix). Perhaps it was the wintry weather that conjured up a vision of luscious fat udon noodles in a piping hot, nourishing broth. Did you know that long noodles foretell a long and blissful life? I knew I had some Japanese udon in my pantry, but that was never the same as the freshly cut version made with the iterative steps of Ashibumi or “stepping on dough with feet” (!), Nekashi or “rest”, Nobashi or “rolling” and Houchoukiri or “cutting with knife” ( I am not making this up).

Dare I venture to the other end of the store, the side replete with exotic and odoriferous fauna..the eel sauce, diced squid, whole octopus and other less identifiable metazoan species? This was not a decision to be taken lightly, as only a vegetarian can sympathize. Images of simmering soup strengthened my resolve and I marched resolutely through the gauntlet of unfamiliar sights and smells (“breath shallow and through the mouth”) to get to the refrigerated section. Success was achieved in finding the udon..but wait, here was a tidy and oh-so-convenient packet of wonton wrappers, promising all variations of stuffed delights…perhaps some Indian samosas, or crunchy Asian veggie rolls! Toss in cart, exhale slowly and return safely to the neutral-aroma zone for check out.

The noodles would have to wait upon my fickle pleasure while the scientist in me must experiment with wonton wrappers. I consoled hubby, still sniffling from the cold he acquired two weeks ago in sunny Florida of all places, and tasked him with finding me recipes on the interwebs. Fortified by a glass of wine in one hand and iPad on the kitchen counter, he procured the protocols while I organized my bench top. Here then, are the Results.

Savory Veggie Triangles

Step 1: Make the filling. Always cut the veggies and set aside before starting to stir fry, unless your preference is for scorched or overcooked stuffing. Use any or all of the following- cabbage (sliced thinly), carrot (grated), leek (sliced thinly), red bell pepper (in strips), shredded ginger, diced garlic clove. Saute in a little oil over high heat, no more than a few minutes, then toss in some soy sauce and sprinkle a few drops of toasted sesame oil. Add a dash of Chinese five spice if you have any. Be creative. I used some broken cashew pieces. Let cool.

Stir fried Asian veggies 

Step 2: Assemble the wrappers. Clean prep space and fill a small container with water for gluing the edges. Lay out wonton square. Place a good amount of filling in the center. Allow son— who has ventured down (pausing his video game) to see what the yummy smell is all about—to dip finger in water and brush wonton edges, before folding over into triangle. Oops, should have checked for dirt under his finger nails first. Oh well, that one can be his. Do a bunch until patience or filling runs out, whichever comes first. Half-way through, instruct hubby to get off his perch and preheat oven to 350 F.

Step 3: Bake. Place triangles on cookie sheet. Sprinkle with oil, use fingers to lightly coat triangles. Yes, you can use a brush for this but good luck cleaning it later. Also, why not use a good olive oil and skip the expensive hand lotion? Incubate for 15 minutes while they bake to a golden brown, crispy at the edges. Wait, you can’t goof off yet..you need to make a dipping sauce. Since hubby has wandered off and your fingers are too oily to grace the $700 iPad, improvise. All it takes is some good soy sauce, sprinkle some sesame oil, dash of balsamic vinegar, squirt of hot sauce, spoon of brown sugar…mix well (I know what you are thinking..eye of newt and toe of frog, haha). Would have been nice with some scallions cut fine, but examination of the fridge reveals none..sad face.

Savory wonton triangles 

Oozy Chocolaty Delight

Step 1: Get someone to make the filling while you are busy with the veggies for the savory filling. Anyone can do this. Even much maligned husband. Rescue the banana from last week …don’t pretend that you haven’t seen the rapidly blackening object in the fruit bowl exuding an abundance of isoamyl acetate ester (CH3COOC5H11). Peel and dump in bowl. You are feeling virtuous already. Throw in some chocolate chips..mix together. Put some broken walnut pieces into the mix. That’s it. Lavish praise upon non-kitchen expert who did this i.e., offspring, significant other, dog, etc. (with any luck, they will volunteer to clean up the mess).

Banana chocolate walnut mix 

Step 2: Assemble the dessert version while the savory triangles are baking. By now, you know how.

Step 3: Bake while you are testing/tasting savory triangles. If you have powdered sugar, dust it on the end product artistically and liberally (skip this step if you will be the one cleaning up).

Yes, that is melted chocolate oozing out! 

Analysis: The verdict is that these were good! Remember, we didn’t fry them yet they turned out surprisingly well. BUT…as I finish writing this, hubby emerges from the basement and enquires wistfully about soup. I forgot to inform him that was dinner not hors d’oeuvre.

Variations on a Common Motif

Here are pictures of another experiment, different filling (potatoes and peas) and different shape (little baskets of yum).

spicy pea and potato samosa stuffing

wonton baskets ready to bake

wontons bursting with stuffing

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4 Responses to Wontons in Winter

  1. I am always one for convienance check out how to make your shopping and storage needs easier with products such as folding shopping carts and the folding utility cart for storage needs at home and at the market.

  2. Peying Fong says:

    hi Madame Scientist!
    I found wonton wrappers to be excellent lasagna noodles as well…

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