Recipe: Pork & Lemongrass wonton filling
1 kilo pork mince
1/2 cup jicama, finely diced by hand * (or 1/2 cup chopped water chestnuts, fresh or canned)
1 tablespoon of dried Lemongrass from Gewurzhaus (or 2 stalks finely mince the white part only)
1 1/4 tsp of Gewurzhaus chili salt (or 1 tsp of salt + 1/4 tsp of dried red pepper flakes )
3 cloves garlic – smashed and chopped
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1/2 tsp of freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp light brown sugar
3 tablespoons of fish sauce
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice
(add this last) 1 heaping tablespoon of corn flour (also known as cornstarch)
1 Combine all of the seasonings and blend with chopsticks or spatula or wooden spoon, or blend by hand.
2. Add pork mince and jicama and blend by hand, in one direction only. Scoop the mixture with your hands so that you are blending but not ‘squishing’ it all together. Do this gently until the mince and jicama have blended in with the seasonings. (Blending in one direction prevents the meat from becoming ‘mashed’; the filling needs to retain texture). Sprinkle the corn flour into the mixture and continue to blend by hand until the corn flour is absorbed.
3. Transfer to 4 or so smaller bowls, cover and refrigerate for an hour. Take out one bowl at a time as you wrap the wonton.
4. To cook the wonton bring a pot of water to boil. There should be enough water so that the wonton can float about. Drop the wonton into the boiling water and partially cover the pot. When the wonton as risen to the surface, give them another 2 minutes and then drain.
Wonton & Soup: for a meal, 7-10 wonton per serving; place drained wonton into individual soup bowls or one large bowl. Immediately, add soup stock (Chicken stock or use miso paste to make a soup) and vegetables such as bok choy, snow peas, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, shiitake or enoki mushrooms. Optional: slices of lemon and fresh minced chili on the side.
Wonton with chili: as a shared platter, place about 4 wonton per person on a large platter. When you spoon the wonton onto the platter, include a little bit of the water in which the wonton were boiled as this will prevent the wonton from sticking to the plate. Sprinkle with Sichuan pepper and drizzle with chili oil. Add slivers of snow peas (1 per every 4 wonton – cut into lengthwise thin slivers and blanch for 30 seconds, drain) and garnish with sprigs of coriander.
To freeze the wonton
Sprinkle corn flour on to a tray or plate. Place the finished wonton on the tray or plate so they are not touching and place into the freezer – do not cover. When they have frozen hard, remove form the plate/tray and place into freezer bags or boxes. These can be stored for up to 3 months. To cook frozen wonton, they can go straight from the freezer to the boiling pot. When they have risen to the surface, give them another 3 minutes and drain.
* Jicama – refers to the crunchy root of this plant. It is best to chop it finely by hand as it is to add texture and ‘crunch’ to the wonton. Do not mince it using a food processor as this will turn it into an undesirable mushy mass. I add it to wonton/dumpling fillings as a substitute for water chestnuts. Click here for the wikipedia entry about jicama. It add texture as it is slightly crunchy and has a light, slightly sweet flavor. I use a Japanese mandolin to cut it into sticks, then chop those sticks into little cubes. In Melbourne, it is available from Chef’s Hat, across the street from the South Melbourne Market on Coventry Street. (note: the Japanese mandolin is not shown on their website but I have seen stacks of them for sale there).
It is very inspiring to discover a chef who is generous with his knowledge. The Trupp Cooking School offers an extensive range of classes about cooking and nutrition. Located near Prahran Market, this inviting space was created by Walter Trupp and his nutritionist wife, Dorota. There is a long benchtop/counter around which a small group of students can sit comfortably. Any seat is a good seat – an unobstructed view can be had from any angle. My husband and I enrolled in the class Knife Skills, as we each have our own knives – he has Aritsugu carbon steel knives, handmade with wood and bone handles and I have a hand-me-down cleaver and a sharp and shiny Shun knife (I don’t use his knives and he doesn’t use mine). Walter demonstrates and explains the techniques to julienne, chop, cut, bone, etc. as well as the proper way to sharpen knives. He passed around knives so that we could feel the difference between a knife that is of excellent, good or poor quality. He discussed cutting boards and how to wash them thoroughly to prevent contamination. Walter encourages questions and is very engaging. He stepped out from behind the counter to check each person’s efforts as we practiced on the fruits/vegetables with the supplied knives and board. I highly recommend this class for those keen to learn from a real expert. I purchased the book Trupps’ Wholefood Kitchen – Eat well, live well, feel great to which I’ve already begun to affix post-it notes. This is not just a cookbook, it’s a plain English commentary about how we can take care of ourselves when it comes to what we eat.
I had a GREAT time with the Essential Dumplings class at the CAE. There were 15 very enthusiastic people – men and women from their 20s to 60s. It was hectic, a little chaotic but energetic. While I sliced the roast duck, students introduced themselves and talked about their favorite dumpling restaurants: Hutong Dumpling Bar, Dumpling King, Mahjong were just a few of the names that came up.
Some of the students made very good suggestions – list a few vegetarian recipes as well as other fillings, plus the Asian cole slaw that I mentioned. I’ve now posted that recipe.
Dumplings, like many other Asian dishes, require alot and I mean alot of chopping. That is why dumpling making is a group activity. Throw a dumpling party! Tell your friends to bring their own knife, board and apron and then chop, wrap and eat together. Cooking and eating together is priceless.