May 10, 2014


Wonton Wrappers
Available at Friendly Market on Moloka'i
Click on photo to view larger
Wonton wrappers have a lot of uses in the kitchen. If you haven't seen wonton wrappers, look in the refrigerated section of your grocery store where they keep things like tofu and fresh Asian noodles, or in the frozen section. They look like the photo to the right, a square, or round stack of little thin pasta sheets about 3 1/2 inches square.

Most people just purchase wonton wrappers at their grocery store, however wonton wrappers are simple to make. You need about 1/2 cup of water, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, and one egg for every 2 cups of all-purpose flour. It's no different than making fresh Italian style pasta. Mix everything except the flour, then create a crater with flour and pour in the wet ingredients and then incorporate and knead the dough until it becomes smooth and pliable. Let it rest covered with a damp (not wet) cloth for about 1 hour (this is so the gluten can relax. The longer it sits the easier it will be to roll out). Then divide in quarters (or half) and roll it out on a surface lightly coated with cornstarch (if you use flour it may toughen it up). Roll out as thin as you possibly can. Cut into 3 1/2 inch squares (you should be able to get approximately 12 wonton wrappers out of each half. For spring roll wrappers, it's essentially the same way except you use rice flour (or tapioca, or combo of both) instead of wheat flour.

Most commercial Asian wonton wrappers don’t contain egg. I’ve seen recipes online and elsewhere that incorporate egg into the dough and that’s not necessary for all dumplings, especially popular pot stickers or shumai. Just check packaged wrappers sold at a market and read the ingredient label if you are allergic to eggs. You can seal wonton wrappers without egg by using a mixture of flower and water (make a paste of 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour with 2 1/4 teaspoon water).

Another good thing about wonton wrappers is that if you don't use them all, you can freeze the leftovers to use for another time. Also, depending on the wonton recipe you want to make, it is a good idea to make more than you need then freeze the wontons after you have stuffed them, then just thaw them and toss them in broth or steam them for a quick meal in the future. If you buy wonton wrappers fresh (or make them) then you can freeze them for up to a year. If you buy them already frozen, check the expiration label and go by that "use by" date.

If you have had Chinese chicken salad (see recipe below) and noticed the crispy stripes on the top, they are nothing but fried or baked wonton wrappers that have been cut into strips. But the best thing to do with them is to stuff them with whatever you like and serve them as appetizers, or as a dumpling in a soup, or as a dessert. It doesn't matter whether you steam them, bake them or fry them. I will give you some examples... read on.

Smoked Salmon Sesame Wontons
This is a beautiful little appetizer using wontons cut into triangles and topped with smoked salmon.

1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
1 egg whites
8 wonton wrappers
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons chives (chopped)
11/4 tsps wasabi paste
1 tsp peeled fresh ginger (minced)
6 ozs smoked salmon (sliced)
daikon sprouts (or other small sprouts)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk 1/4 cup oil and egg white in small bowl to blend. Place wonton wrappers in single layer on work surface; brush with some of oil mixture and sprinkle with half of the sesame seeds. Fold diagonally in half. Brush with more oil mixture; sprinkle with remaining seeds. Cut each into 2 triangles. Place on baking sheet. Bake until golden, about 13 minutes. Cool.

Whisk vinegar, chives, wasabi, ginger, and 1/2 teaspoon oil in bowl. Cover each wonton with 1 salmon slice, then drizzle with wasabi mixture. Top salmon with sprouts, then fold salmon over sprouts. Top with more sprouts. Makes 16 servings.

Mini Wonton Shrimp Cups
24 wonton wrappers
1 tablespoon butter, melted
10 ounces shelled, deveined, cooked medium shrimp, divided
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 green onions with tops, finely chopped
1/3 cup grated carrot
4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese (about 1 cup)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray mini-muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray. Brush one side of wontons with butter. Press wontons, buttered side up, into wells of pan. Bake 8 minutes or until edges turn light golden brown. Remove pan from oven.

Reserve 24 shrimp; chop remaining shrimp. In large bowl, whisk cream cheese, garlic and Worcestershire sauce until well blended. Add chopped shrimp, green onions, carrot and mozzarella cheese; mix well.

Fill each wonton cup with about 1 tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture; top with a reserved shrimp. Bake 5 minutes or until wontons are golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Makes 24 appetizers.

Shrimp Fried Wontons
15 large raw shrimp, tails left on
15 wonton wraps
1-2 cups canola oil for high-heat frying
1 egg, beaten
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh coriander/cilantro leaves and stems, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fish sauce OR soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 red chili, minced, OR 3/4 tsp. dried crushed chili, OR 1-2 tsp. chili sauce

Optional: bottle of Thai sweet chili sauce for serving (available in most supermarkets in the Asian section)
Other: a little cornstarch

Tip: To help shrimp lay flat instead of curled, make a cut along the back of the shrimp (as if you were butter-flying it). This will make wrapping easier.

Place shrimp in a bowl and add the garlic, coriander, fish or soy sauce, oyster sauce, brown sugar, and chili. Be sure the coriander is finely chopped for the best taste.

Toss well and set aside to marinate 10 minutes (or up to 30). Meanwhile, prepare your wok or pan for frying. I like using a wok, as this way less oil is needed (you want oil about 1 inch deep).

Toss the shrimp once again before wrapping. To wrap, lay out the first wonton wrapper on the diagonal. Brush the entire surface with beaten egg, then position the shrimp horizontally across the center (with its tail sticking out past the left corner). Fold the right corner over the bottom of the shrimp, then bring up the bottom and tuck over. Roll quite tightly to finish and press firmly to seal.

Place wrapped shrimp on a plate lightly dusted with cornstartch (to keep wrappers from sticking).

Heat oil over medium-high heat. To test if oil is hot enough, dip one of the wrapped shrimp in - if it starts to sizzle and cook, the oil is ready. Fry the wrapped shrimp about 1 minute per side, or until light golden brown and crunchy. Once your first batch is frying, reduce heat to medium. Drain on paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.

Serve immediately either as is (they're great on their own), OR with Thai sweet chili sauce for dipping. Serve 3-4 as an appetizer.

Pepperoni Pizza Cups
These little pizza wonton cups are enjoyed by kids and adults, and can be tailored to the toppings of your choice. The sky's the limit when it comes to pizza.

8 ounces cream cheese, light or regular, softened
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon garlic powder or 1 clove fresh minced garlic
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese
1 cup pizza sauce or good marinara sauce (my favorite pizza sauce recipe is here)
3 ounces finely chopped pepperoni
24 square wonton wrappers

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. In a small bowl, whisk together the cream cheese, oregano, basil and garlic. Lightly grease a mini-muffin tin pan with cooking spray and press one wonton wrapper gently into the muffin tin, carefully but firmly pressing it into the sides of the cups. Bake the wonton wrappers for 4-6 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove the pan from the oven and keep the wonton wrappers in the mini cups.

Dollop a teaspoon or two of the cream cheese mixture into the bottom of each wonton cup. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the top of the cream cheese mixture. Top with a teaspoon or so of the pizza sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and chopped pepperoni. Bake for 10 more minutes until the filling is bubbly and wonton edges are golden brown. Serve warm! Makes about 24 pizza cups.

Lasagna Cups
12 ounces ground beef
1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes, or tomato sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 teaspoons dried oregano, divided
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, minced, plus more for garnish
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
24 square wonton wrappers
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
non-stick cooking spray

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef, onions, mushrooms, salt, and pepper. Crumble the meat and sauté the mixture for about 10 minutes, or until the beef is cooked through. Add the garlic and stir constantly for 30 seconds.

Add the crushed tomatoes and 2 teaspoons of oregano. Bring the pan to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, a pinch of salt and pepper, the remaining teaspoon of oregano, and the basil. Stir to mix well. Set aside.

Coat a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Place 1 wonton wrapper into each of the 12 cups, pressing firmly in the bottom of the cup and up the sides.

Using half of the ricotta mixture, divide it among the 12 muffin cups. Next, using half of the beef tomato sauce mixture, spoon it evenly over each of the ricotta filled cups. Sprinkle each with 2 teaspoons of mozzarella cheese.

Gently press another wonton wrapper on top of the mozzarella layer.

Repeat the process by distributing the remaining ricotta cheese, then the remaining tomato sauce, and finally the rest of the shredded mozzarella.

Bake for 10 minutes at 375ºF, or until the cheese has melted.

Let the cups cool, remove them from the pan, garnish each with more minced fresh basil, and serve. Makes 12 servings.

Chinese Chicken Salad
2 bone-in, skin-on split chicken breasts (about 2-1/4 pounds)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 square wonton wrappers
vegetable oil cooking spray
2/3 cup sliced almonds
2 ounces snow peas, trimmed and cut on the diagonal into thirds (1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
1/2 small head napa cabbage, trimmed and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips (3 to 3-1/2 cups)
1/2 romaine heart, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips (1-1/2 to 2 cups)
3 large scallions (white and green parts), thinly sliced on the diagonal (1/2 cup)

Heat the oven to 425°F. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Roast on a rack set in a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of a breast registers 165°F, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool. Remove and discard the skin and then shred the meat. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F.

Stack the wonton wrappers on a cutting board and cut them into 1/2-inch-wide strips. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray wonton strips lightly with cooking spray. Separate the strips, lay them on the baking sheet, and mist them lightly with the cooking spray. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Scrunch each strip to give it a wavy shape, if you like. Bake at 375°F until golden, 7 to 9 minutes. Reduce the oven heat to 350°F.

Spread the sliced almonds on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until golden, 6 to 8 minutes.

Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Have a bowl of ice water ready. Boil the snow peas just until bright green but still crisp, about 20 seconds. Drain and transfer to the ice water to stop the cooking. Drain.

Put the sesame seeds in a dry skillet and shake or stir over medium heat until light golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove them from the hot pan to prevent overcooking.

Ingredients for the dressing:
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1-1/2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
1 tablespoon sweet Asian chile sauce (I use Mae Ploy brand)
2 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped (2 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon hot Asian chile sauce
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil

In a medium bowl, combine the vinegar, tamari, sweet chile sauce, garlic, ginger, salt, hot chile sauce, and pepper. Gradually whisk in the canola and sesame oils.

In a large bowl, toss the cabbage, romaine, and snow peas. In another bowl, toss the chicken and scallions with 1/4 cup of the dressing. Add the chicken to the greens, and then add the sesame seeds and almonds. Toss with enough of the remaining dressing to coat well. Garnish each serving with the baked wonton strips. Serve immediately. Serves 4 as a main course.

Pork Wonton Soup
Ingredients for stuffing the wonton wrappers:
1/2 cup finely chopped napa
coarse salt
6 ounces ground pork, not all lean
3 whole green onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon soy sauce or Tamari sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Twenty Four 3 1/2 by 3-inch rectangular or square wonton wrappers

Ingredients for the soup:
two 14.5-ounce cans reduced-sodium chicken broth
coarse salt
3 whole green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
2 to 3 teaspoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Prepare filling: In a medium bowl, toss cabbage with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Let stand for 10 minutes. Wrap cabbage in a double layer of paper towels; firmly squeeze out excess liquid. Return cabbage to bowl; add pork, green onions, ginger, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Mix well with a fork. Filling may be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

To make the wontons: Work with one wrapper at a time, and keep the rest covered with a damp towel. Spoon one rounded teaspoon of filling in center of wrapper.

With dampened fingers, wet the four edges. To make a triangle, fold wrapper in half over filling, making sure the ends meet and filling is centered; press edges down firmly to seal.

Moisten one tip on long side of triangle. Then bring together both tips on long side, overlapping them slightly; press tips together to seal.

Fold remaining top corner back. Transfer to an oiled plate; cover with a damp towel to keep moist. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.

To make the soup: In a large pot, combine broth, 4 cups of water, and 1 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil. Add wontons one at a time; return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until wontons are just cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in green onions, vinegar, and sesame oil; season with salt. Makes 4 servings.

Steamed Shrimp & Pork Shumai
Shumai is spelled in different ways, but they are basically Chinese steamed dumplings that are commonly found in dim sum restaurants. You can purchase them frozen here on Moloka'i, but homemade is much better. The mixed ingredients are put into a round wonton wrapper, one teaspoon at a time. The wonton wrapper is then pinched around the filling and garnished with a single green pea on top, or whatever you like, then steamed in an Asian bamboo steamer. Easy to make and delicious served as a pupu for a party, or featured as a main course!

2 dried shitake mushrooms, rehydrated and minced
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1 dozen medium sized shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 pound ground pork
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 large green onion, minced

about 30 large frozen green peas for garnish (see note below)

1 large egg, blended
about 30 wonton wrappers, (round)

Soak dried mushrooms for 1/2 hour to rehydrate. Meanwhile, mix soy sauce, sesame oil, oyster sauce, sugar, salt & pepper and ginger in a medium sized bowl. Separate 5 shrimp from the 12. Roughly chop the 5 shrimp and mince the rest. Add all of the shrimp to the bowl with the ground pork, garlic, and green onions. Mix everything together with your hand until blended. Cover and refrigerate for 1/2 hour.

When ready to assemble, stir egg together in a small bowl with a fork. With a basting brush, brush some of the egg mixture on top of a wonton (this will insure that the wonton sticks together while steaming). Make a circle with your fingers by touching the tips of your thumb and first finger together. Place a egg coated wonton wrapper on top of the circle and gently press the wrapper into the circle, making a small cup. While still holding the wonton in your fingers, with your other hand, place 1 rounded teaspoon of the pork/shrimp mixture into the center of the wonton. Now pinch the wonton together around the mixture, leaving the top open, and press the mixture into the wonton cup. Flatten the bottom of the shumai on the kitchen counter so that it sits flat. Place a single pea in the center of the shrimp/pork mixture for garnish. Repeat this process until the shrimp/pork mixture is gone. Place the uncooked shumai in the steamer, and steam for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with a soy sauce dipping sauce with a little sesame oil and a squeeze of lime juice. Put in a drop or two of chili oil if you like it spicy. Makes about 30 shumai.

Note: If you can't find the round wonton wrappers, use the square ones and cut the corners off. I use a bamboo steamer and put parchment paper in the bottom so the shumai don't stick to the steamer. Leave room for the steam to come up around the paper. Instead of a pea for garnish you can blanch a carrot and chop it up and place a few pieces on top, or you can garnish each shumai with a cilantro leaf.

Cheese Ravioli with Wonton Wrappers
Wonton wrappers are very similar to little sheets of uncooked pasta. You can easily make ravioli out of them and put in whatever filling you like; cheese and spinach, cheese and crab, salmon, pork, beef, and so on. This recipe calls for a mixture of 3 different cheeses stuffed into wonton wrappers, then boiled and served with a tomato sauce.

3 cups store bought Italian tomato sauce, or make your own ("Mama Mia" Marinara Sauce)
1/2 cup squeezed, chopped, cooked fresh or frozen spinach
1/2 cup coarsely grated mozzarella
1/2 cup ricotta (whole milk or low fat)
1/2 cup freshly microplane grated Parmigiano-Reggiano plus extra for sprinkling
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
32 square wonton wrappers
shredded basil for garnish (Kumu Farms on Molokai always has it in stock)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

In a large bowl combine the spinach, mozzarella, ricotta, 1/2 cup parmesan, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.

Working with a few wonton skins at a time, keeping the others covered with plastic wrap, moisten the edges with water. Put a level teaspoon of the filling in the center of each wrapper, and put another wonton on top. Press out the air and crimp the edges tightly to seal. As they are filled, transfer the ravioli to a flour dusted sheet pan. Repeat with the remaining wonton wrappers and filling.

Add the ravioli to the pot of boiling water, turn down to a simmer and cook, until just tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the tomato sauce. To serve: divide the ravioli among four shallow soup plates, top with some of the sauce and a sprinkling of the cheese. Garnish with the shredded basil. Makes 4 servings.

Cinnamon Sweet Wontons
15 wonton wrappers (or more)
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Cut the wrappers in four small squares. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the wrappers in one layer on the sheet. Spray the wrappers with cooking spray.
Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Mix well. Sprinkle generously with the mixture on the wrappers. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the wrappers are crispy and golden brown. Do not overbake or they will burn. Serve with ice-cream or eat them like popcorn. Makes 60 chips. 

Note: You can also cut the wontons into 1/4" strips instead of little squares and follow the same process, then garnish the top of ice-cream or fruit salad with the strips. Or you can press whole wontons into small muffin tens and follow the same process to make sweet little cinnamon cups that you fill with a mixture of fresh fruit and yogurt. Or you can make wonton napoleons, using 3 baked cinnamon/sugar wontons that are layered with frozen whipped topping and fresh fruit, like mango, or strawberries and raspberries.

Chocolate-Banana Wontons
1 (13 ounce) jar Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread)
wonton wrappers
2 medium bananas
1 egg beaten
canola oil (for frying)
confectioners sugar (for dusting)

Separate wonton wrappers into individual sheets. In the center of each wrapper, place a small dollop (approximately 1 teaspoon) of Nutella and top with a slice of ripe banana. Use a pastry brush to moisten the edges of the wonton with a beaten egg mixture. Fold the wontons in half to form a triangle. Use your fingers to press the edges of the wonton firmly together to seal completely.

Preheat a deep fryer, or heat two inches of oil in a pan to approximately 350˚F. Drop the wontons in a few at a time and cook, turning them over during the process, until they are lightly browned and cooked through, usually 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar and serve warm.

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