Reprinted from Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking by Fuchsia Dunlop. Copyright © 2012 by Fuchsia Dunlop. Photographs copyright © 2012 by Chris Terry. With the permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company.
Sichuanese Wontons in Chilli Oil Sauce
Hong You Chao Shou
Of all Chinese dumplings, wontons are the simplest to make, if you buy ready-made wrappers. They cook in minutes and have a delightfully slippery mouthfeel. In Sichuan, the source of this recipe, they are known as “folded arms” (chaoshou). Some say this is because the raw dumplings look like the folded arms of a person sitting back in relaxation; others that it’s because of the way they are wrapped, with one corner crossed over the other and the two pinched together. The basic wontons can be served in a host of different ways and this Chengdu version is one of my favorites, with its sumptuous, heart-warming sauce. Wonton skins can be bought fresh or frozen in most Chinese food shops; they should be very thin and supple. If you want to take the easiest option in wrapping the dumplings, you can simply fold them in half, on the diagonal, to make a triangle. Otherwise, wrap into the classic “water caltrop” shape (see page 295), as professional cooks and market vendors do across China. (The water caltrop is an exotic-looking aquatic nut with a pair of horns.) This recipe makes 15–20, enough for four as an appetizer, or two for lunch. If you use fresh ingredients and make more than you need, the surplus can be frozen and cooked straight from the freezer.
Photographs copyright © 2012 by Chris Terry.
- 1/2oz (20g) piece of ginger, unpeeled
- 5 oz (150g) ground pork
- 1/2 egg, beaten
- 1 tspShaoxing wine
- 1/2tsp sesame oil
- Ground white pepper
- 3 tbsp chicken stock
- 3 tbsp finely sliced spring onion greens
- 7 oz (200g) package of wonton wrappers
- Flour, to dust
- To serve
- 3–4 tbsp sweet aromatic soy sauce, or 3–4 tbsp light or tamari soy sauce with 1 1/2–2 tsp sugar
- 5–6 tbsp chilli oil, with its sediment
- 2–4 heaped tsp crushed garlic
- 2 tbsp finely sliced spring onion greens
Crush the ginger with the flat of a cleaver or a rolling pin and put it in a cup with just enough cold water to cover. Place the pork, egg, Shaoxing wine and sesame oil in a bowl with 11/2tsp of the ginger water and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well. Mix in the stock, 1 tbsp at a time. Finally, add the spring onion greens. Fill a small bowl with cold water. Take a wonton wrapper and lay it flat in one hand. Use a table knife or a small spatula to press about 1 tsp of the pork mixture into the center of the wrapper. Dip a finger into the cold water, run it around the edges of the wrapper and fold it diagonally in half. Press the edges tightly together and lay on a flour-dusted tray or large plate.
Bring a large pan of water to a boil over a high heat. While you are waiting for the water to boil, prepare three or four serving bowls. In each bowl, place 1 tbsp sweet aromatic soy sauce (or 1 tbsptamari soy sauce and 1/2tsp sugar), 11/2tbsp chilli oil with sediment and 1/2–1 heaped tsp of crushed garlic, to taste.
When the water has come to a boil, drop in the wontons. Stir gently to make sure they do not stick together. When the water returns to a rolling boil, pour in a small cup of cold water to calm it down. Repeat cooked through (cut one open to make sure). Remove the wontons with a slotted spoon, drain well, and divide between the prepared serving bowls. Scatter each bowl with some of the spring onion greens. Serve immediately, stirring everything together before digging in.