The Chinese term for won ton is "Swallowing Clouds". I've always thought that was a sweet, poetic way to describe a delicious experience. When I think about it, the lowly won ton has always been connected to a heightened experience in my life, whether it's a festive gathering, a celebration or just simply a special snack.
My mother used to serve us freshly boiled won tons in a bowl sprinkled with a little shoyu and sesame oil. We could never wait for the complete meal with the soup and the vegetables so she would oblige us by making this simple dish.
I was reminded of my mother's solution to our lunchtime hunger when I had a much more elaborate dish, Won Tons in Chili Oil, at an upscale Northern Chinese restaurant in Waikiki. I thoroughly enjoyed this new twist on an old standby, enjoying the smooth ("wat") won ton pi, the savory, chunky shrimp and pork filling and the unexpected heat from the chili oil. Of course, I had to try and duplicate it immediately. Maybe this should be called "Swallowing Thunderclouds".
Won Tons in Chili Oil with Crisp Garlic
1 cup of peanut oil
2 Tablespoons Sambal or Chili Garlic Paste
6 small red chili peppers- remove stems and chop finely including seeds
Deep Fried Garlic, sold in red packages of 8 oz., made in Taiwan called “Crisp Garlic” Golden Buffalo brand. It is carried by Don Quijote or Marukai. These look like tiny brown cubes a bit larger than raw sugar.
Mix all the above ingredients except garlic. Heat for 1 minute on High. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of crisp garlic into the hot oil. Set aside.
Make won tons.
1 pkg. Sun Noodle won ton skins ("pi")
1 lb. ground pork, preferably local pork
6 raw shrimp, chopped fine
6 stems of Chinese parsley, chopped very finely, use top 4” of each stalk with leaves, discard tough bottom stems
3 stalks of green onion, chopped fine
6 water chestnuts, drained and chopped
2 inch piece of ginger, unpeeled, grated on a ceramic grater or Microplane grater
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 raw egg, beaten
1 Tablespoon Scotch Whiskey
2 teaspoons shoyu
2 teaspoons sesame oil
Mix all above ingredients, except won ton skins, together lightly with a fork until well mixed.
Fill the won ton pi with about 1 and ½ teaspoons of filling, do not overstuff. Fold won ton skins over filling. Use a little water or egg white as a "glue" for the skins. Place finished won tons on a cookie sheet and as you make the won tons cover with a damp dish towel that’s been wrung out. This keeps the skins from drying out. Boil a pot of water and cook the won tons in the water until they float, about 3 minutes. Drain.
For a pupu: Place 5 drained won tons in a bowl. Sprinkle lightly with Yamasa soy sauce. Pour 2 Tablespoons of hot chili oil with crisp garlic over won tons. Fold together gently to coat.
Variations: This same recipe can be used for won ton in soup. The chili oil is left out. You place cooked won tons in chicken broth with vegetables such as mustard cabbage ("gai choy"). Or, you can fry the won tons is hot oil for a different kind of pupu. Sweet chili sauce would be a good dipping sauce.
Note: Extra uncooked won tons may be frozen in one layer on a cookie sheet in the freezer and then placed in a Ziploc. You can cook them, still frozen, in boiling water. They may take a minute or two longer to cook and float.
Extra chili oil can be kept in the refrigerator.