Saturday, March 1, 2008

Won Tons in Chili Oil

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

Chili Oil
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.

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.


Anonymous said...

This looks really yummy! You should come visit me and make it! I'll test this out over spring break and let you know how it goes. (You should still visit, though.)

foodiewahine said...

Dear Marian,
You did a great job on researching your grandfather's life! So many interesting tidbits and a new perspective on his fruitful life.

This recipe pretty yummy if I do say so myself and no more difficult than regular won tons. U. Merrill said that the next time we all get together we should make, bake, bring, all our specialties together for a super potluck.
Aunty M

Samantha said...

oo the best comfort food in the world!!

foodiewahine said...

Sorry we didn't get the chance to make this together when you were last home. Altho you did have Jason's super gyoza.

Anonymous said...

thank you thank you so much for the mountain apples!!! and thank you Jason the messenger for dropping them off w/cyn. what a nice surprise! Cindy and I once hiked into a trail by Kahana Bay (I think) in search of some last year and were pretty bummed out when we saw that most of them were already eaten by those pesky birds. We constantly reminisce about that day maybe 10 years ago when we were cruising around kaneohe when we saw a man and a cooler selling big bags of juicy sweet mountain apples for 5 bucks!! can you believe that? what a shame that we never saw him around again. wish us luck in Japan!!!
-shaka sherry

foodiewahine said...

to shaka sherry:
isn't that what food memories are all about? a special serendipitous day when the stars align so that you are in the right place at the right time in order to have perfect, juicy-ripe mountain apples! Unforgettable.