Chinese Dumplings and Wonton Soup

I love everything Asian; I love the languages, the culture, but most of all I love Asian food.  This includes, but is not limited to food from China, Thailand, India, Indonesia…the list could go on and on.  In my quest to consistently improve my culinary skills, I often make my favorite Asian take-out meals at home.  Which brings me to this past weekend…I made one of my Chinese take-out favorites: Wonton Soup.  It looks (and sounds) fancy, but is surprisingly very easy.  Everyone can come together to make the wontons, and more importantly everyone will want to come together to eat them!

This recipe makes a lot of dumplings (ground pork packages at our grocery store are each 1.5lbs), but the way I see it, you can freeze the leftovers and eat them all month long.  Who doesn’t love fabulous tasting leftovers!  This recipe also has a lot of steps, but don’t be overwhelmed, I assure the process is very easy.

Note: This recipe was inspired by a recipe at Epicurious, however I didn’t quite like theirs, so I made some tweaks to produce something that is all my own.

Finished Wonton Soup

Finished Wonton Soup

Completed wontons, my husband and I each had our own style =)

Completed wontons, my husband and I each had our own style =)

Finished soup just before serving

Finished soup just before serving

Pan-fried wontons, dumplings round two!

Pan-fried wontons, dumplings round two!

Chinese Dumplings and Wonton Soup

For the Soup:

2 pieces bone-in chicken, preferably chicken thigh (can be uncooked, or un-fried cooked leftovers)
2 pieces bone-in pork, ribs or pork chop
4 coarsely chopped scallions (also one chopped scallion for soup garnish)
1 (2-inch) peeled fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
6 cups water
2 bunches baby bok choy
salt
pepper

For the Wontons:

1.5 lbs ground pork
1 large egg yolk
6 finely chopped green onions
1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
1/2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
4 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp mirin
1.5 tsp sesame oil
1 c finely chopped boy choy
1/4 tsp pepper
50 wonton wrappers

Pan Frying Wontons:

2 tbsp olive oil

Making the Broth for the Wonton Soup:

1. Place chicken, pork, scallions, ginger and water in large stock pot.  Bring to boil on high heat, the turn heat to medium-low; broth should be still simmering.
2. Simmer for approximatly 4-5 hours; meat should be very tender and falling off the bone.  Pour broth through a strainer, into a large bowl and discard the solids.  Cool the broth, then cover and chill in fridge for 1-2 hours.  Broth can be chilled overnight.

Making the Wontons:

1. In a large bowl combine pork, egg yolk, green onion, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil, bok choy and pepper.  Using your hand, combine the ingredients.  Do not overwork or filling will be tough.
2. Prepare a small bowl of water for sealing the dumplings.  Set aside.  Place wonton wrapper on work surface, and using your finger brush water along all four edges of the wonton wrapper.
3. Spoon a rounded teaspoon of the meat mixture on the center of wrapper, fold the wrapper in half so the edges meet (like folding a sheet), and press the edges closed (like closing a ziploc bag).  Fold the wonton in half again, and softly fold the wonton in half lengthwise.  If you are having trouble, see my picture aove.
4. Place each folded wonton on an ungreased baking sheet.  Do not stack the wontons or pack them too tightly; you do not want them to stick together.
5. Once the baking sheet is full (or you have run out of wonton wrappers), place baking sheet flat in the freezer.  Continue wrapping wontons until you run out of meat filling.
6. After 30 min remove wontons from freezer and use for wonton soup, or move to freezer-safe Ziploc bags.

Putting the Soup Together (Finally!):

1. Remove the chilled broth, and skim off any fat from the surface of the broth.
2. Bring broth to a simmer on medium heat in large pot.  Stir bok choy into broth, add salt and pepper to taste.  Continue to simmer, uncovered for approximately 3-4 minutes (or until bok choy is tender).
3. Add frozen wontons  to broth, and continue to simmer for approximately 10 minutes, slightly stirring. Wontons should be floating on the surface, and no longer appear bright pink through the wrapper, instead they should appear slightly brown.  (Before serving, open a wonton to ensure they are fully cooked through)
4. Ladle broth into bowls with wontons.  Garnish with spring onions, and serve!

Pan Frying the Remaining Wontons:

1. Place 8 wontons in shallow pan with 2 tbsp olive oil.  Pan fry uncovered for approximately 3 minutes, until they are browned on the bottom.  Add four tbsp water to pan, cover and cook for approximately 5 minutes, until dumplings are crispy and cooked through.
2. Serve! Yum!

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Easy Spaghetti, with an Upgrade

My husband loves spaghetti, and fortunately loves my spaghetti even more.  I was never a huge spaghetti fan, but with a few add-ons, I have transformed boring traditional spaghetti, to a fantastic home-made meal that is still suitable for weeknights.  Everybody has their own recipe for spaghetti, but if you don’t have one of your own, this one is a good place to start.

Yum!

Yum!

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1/2lbs ground beef (no more then 80% Lean)
8 oz pork sausage
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1tbsp tomato paste
1/2box angel hair pasta
1/2c fresh basil, chopped (or 1tbsp dried basil)
2 large bay leaves
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 14.5oz can chopped tomatoes
1tsp salt
1tsp pepper
1tsp onion powder
1tsp garlic powder
1tsp italian seasoning
1/4c beef stock
parmesan cheese
optional: 1/2c red wine

1. Cook ground beef and sausage on medium heat for 10-15 minutes, or until cooked through.  Season meat mixture with onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper and italian seasoning.  Once cooked, remove meat from pan, and place in strainer to remove excess grease drippings.  Set aside.

2. In the same pan, sauté chopped green onion in a pan on medium heat, after three minutes, add chopped onion, and sauté for an additional  10 minutes, or until vegetables are soft and translucent.  Add garlic for the final minute (do not allow garlic to burn).  Add can of chopped tomatoes and cook for additional two minutes.

3. Return cooked meat to pan, add spaghetti sauce and beef stock.  Roughly stir together until blended; do not overstir, you do not want to over crumble the beef.  Add bay leaves and basil to sauce.  Completely cover and simmer on medium heat for 30 minutes.  (If you choose to, now add the wine)

4. Add tomato paste to sauce mixture, stir, cover again but allow steam to escape.  Simmer for additional 30 minutes.  Simultaneously boil pasta in lightly salted water.  Remove noodles from water once they are al dente.

5. Serve noodles with pasta sauce and cheese.  Enjoy!

Guest Chef: The Juicy Lucy Burger

My husband made dinner yesterday, and it was amazing.  I’m normally not a hamburger kind of lady, but these hamburgers were surprisingly better than usual.  While hamburgers might not qualify as a fancy food, these hamburgers would definitely impress any of your guests.

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This recipe is from The Burger

12 oz fresh ground beef
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2  cheese slices (we used American)
vegetable oil (for the burger)
olive oil (for the onions)
1/2 red onion, sliced
2 hamburger buns
lettuce leaves
tomato slices
1/2c shredded mexican cheese (or any other shredded cheese you prefer)

1. Place the ground beef in a small bowl, and mix with salt and pepper.  Divide the beef into four equal portions, and roll each portion into a ball.  Place each ball on a clean work surface, and flatten until approximately 1/2inch thick.  Arrange the mexican cheeses evenly on top of 2 of the patties, add a patty on top of each patty with cheese, and press the sides firmly.  (This will ensure that no cheese melts out the side of the burger).

2. Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Heat the oil in a skillet on medium heat, cook each beef patty for 2 minutes on each sides.  Place patties in oven on raised grate for 20 minutes.

3. While the patties are in the oven, saute onion slices on medium heat, with a 1 tbsp olive oil for approximately 15 minutes, or until soft and caramelized .

4. Place each burger on a bun, add sautéed onions and cheese slice on top of burger, also top with tomato slices, and lettuce leaves.  Serve!