My first collaboration with my food adventure partner in crime Heidi of Aromas y Sabores who’s kindly taken me under her wings to teach me the ropes of making food pictures look nice through styling, lighting and photography!
This Chinese New Year falls on Feb 10, the year of the water snake, which the almanacs and horoscopes seem to say good things about!
This is one of the earliest recipes I learnt from my Mother as a child and she repeatedly says the most important thing is the seasoning and marinate and always taste to intuitively adjust the flavours. This version here is my mother’s own Singaporean recipe, very similar to the Hong Kong wonton (馄饨 húntun in Mandarin) version which also includes fresh shrimps to the filling mix. The full shrimps filling ones are called 水饺 shuî jîao in Mandarin,pronounced sui kow in Cantonese- and always comes with a bowl of soup.
Further North in Beijing where I lived for 4 years, rice flour dumplings are made and eaten every Chinese New Year. Here’s how I spent two Beijing Chinese New Years making northern style 饺子 jîaozi in 2011 and 2009.
There are many variations for fillings and typical ones in the local diners range from pork & chives, shrimp & pork, pork & mushrooms. And a main difference between Northern dumplings 饺子 jîaozi and wonton 馄饨 húntun is the wrap – the former uses rice flour and is white, mostly eaten in the North of China and the Southern Chinese use flour and egg (hence the yellow skin) for their wonton dumplings. Think the equivalent of ravioli.
400g of pork bones
50g dried shrimp (also called 虾米 har maí in Cantonese)
50g of dried ikan bilis (dried salted anchovies)
Optional: 1 piece ginger, peeled and sliced, 2 sprigs of chives/ spring onions
If you feel that it needs more flavour, add a little <i>knorr</i> chicken stock. Room for improvisation a little as my mother cooks thebroth for hours over the charcoal stove the old school way.
Recipe serves 4
450-500g minced pork
1/2 carrot grated
10 shitake mushrooms or Chinese mushrooms (soaked over night) then diced
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon of shaoxing rice wine
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 pinch salt and sugar
1 pinch pepper
A dash of corn starch
1 egg to seal the wonton pockets
Flour for dusting
1 package wonton skins, about 50
200g of egg noodles (preferably the finer thin noodles. if the Asian supermarket doesn’t stock it, an alternative is to use instant noodles)
2 sprigs of chives, chopped finely to garnish
8 bunches of bok choy blanched (or any other green leafy vegetable of your preference)
Simmer pork bones and ikan bilis anchovies, dried shrimps in a large pot of water 500ml.
Put all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and thoroughly mix the minced pork, diced mushrooms, carrots and seasonings.
Crack and egg in a bowl and lightly dust your work station before you begin to fill the wonton wrappers.
Remember to always keep a damp cloth nearby to cover the wrappers as fresh wonton wrappers dry out very quickly. Put the leftover wraps back into the fridge immediately when you’re done.
Hold the square wonton skin (<i>always better to get the square ones than rounded, it folds better</i>) in the palm of your hand and fill a generous teaspoon with the filling mixture and place it right in the centre of the skin, use your finger, use the egg wash to run along the edges of the wonton skin, then fold it into a a triangle shape.
If you’d like to explore other ways of folding wontons, this site shows 8 different ways to do it. For Chinese New Year, you might want to try folding it to look like golden ingots – the China style no. 1
Placed all the finished wontons onto a plate.
Bring a pot of water to a boil to cook the wontons and noodles. Cook the noodles al dente 3 to 5 mins and drain them to put into separate portioned bowls.
Then put in the wontons, leaving them to simmer pot uncovered. Once they float to the surface, they are cooked. Drain the wontons and put them on top of noodles, add in the blanched bok choy, and ladle in the hot broth. Garnish with chives and serve immediately.
Remember to eat immediately as letting the noodles and wontons sit make it soggy and not pleasant to eat.
Et violà, wonton noodles soup. Bon appétite!