Friday, March 02, 2007

wrapped up comfort

there is something rather comforting about the wrapped up goodness of a meat based filing enveloped in its own little pastry duvet that appeals to the comfort eaters in all cultures. civilisations around the world have their own version of the meat cocconed goodness - it's the global phenomena of the dumpling. italy's tortelinis, the japanese gyoza, the polish piergogi, the russian pelmenyi - these are just some of the members of the order of the dumpling. such greatness is the order of the dumpling that you even have fringe rebel members - robuchon's langostine ravioli and the famed ferran adria's skinless ravioli perhaps the more famous examples of such rebels. the chinese though, as with many other things, overwhelm the membership of the order with sheer quantity and have even warranted a whole sub-order, the dim sum dumplings - of which many a worshipper spend whole weekend brunches paying homage to the dim sum dumplings in temples where trolley pushing is de rigueur.
my dumpling of choice is the ubiquitous wonton. Many evil and unscrupulous chinese takeouts have reduced this humble parcel to a shadow of what its true potential, oft serving up overcooked, limp, underfilled imposters, or committing the cardinal sin of drowning it in an ocean of eerily luminous orange ketchup substitute. i present to you my version. as with the english trifle, every good woman worth her cooking apron will have its own version claiming to be the definitive ONE. i present no such claim- this is just wonton in simplicity, with a sesame/chilli oil dressing plagiarised and inspired in part from the sichuan equivalent of the sesame paste and chilli oil sauce that they serve their wontons with.
pork and shrimp wontons in black sesame dressing
square wanton wrappers
good handful of minced pork
same sized handful of shrimp, roughly chopped
splash each of sesame oil, light soya sauce
dash of white pepper
glug each of sesame oil, chilli oil and fish sauce
two glugs of light soya sauce
sprinkling of toasted black sesame seeds

marinade the filling overnight, letting the flavours penetrate (optional in the case of extreme famishment or uncontrollable greed). place a teaspoon sized dollop of the filling in off centre in each wanton pastry. glazing two adjacent edges of the pastry with water. taking the two other unglazed edges, press over the two glazed edges and seal the pastry, such that you acheive a triangular shaped pocket of meat. take care to expel as much air as you can, ensuring that the pocket is completely sealed. you could consider yourself done at this point and ready to cook the pastry, but i like to take things to the next level, and take the two far corners of the triangle just created and seal them on top of each other, creating a boat shaped swathe of potential pleasure. bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil and slide each wonton in, taking care not to scald your fingertips in the process. return the water to a boil and when the wontons have floated to the surface, leave for a further 30 seconds before dishing out with a slotted spoon. the wontons should have an al dente consistency. if you've overboiled them and they have turned out limp - you've screwed up and will need to start all over again or risk the wrath of the order of the dumplings. for the dressing, toast the black sesame seeds in a dry frying pan and mix up the sesame oil, chilli oil, fish sauce and soya sauce to taste, add the toasted black sesame seeds and liberally douse over the drained wontons. have the decency to eat from a fresh plate with your loved ones, rather than scoffing them all at the kitchen counter from the mixing bowl you've just dressed the wantons in.


Post a Comment

<< Home