Monday, October 24, 2011

Book Club - Homemade Wontons

Book club! A group of us girls get together once every few months with the excuse of reading a book (which we do by the way, there are very strict rules in book club) but we basically spend a lot of time eating. And playing with puppies. We read a variety of books, from The Last Song to Native Speaker to Ender's Game. This time it was my turn to host. I chose the book "Battle Hymn of a Tiger Mother" so we could read about practicing piano for 12 hours a day and then use each other in a counseling session about our own crazy moms. It was very therapeutic.

It was also the first real party I hosted in my apartment since moving in almost exactly one year ago. I've had people over, but those were just one off visits with one or two people at a time, and not actual events. Needless to say, I pulled out all the stops for book club brunch.

homemade wontons

Momofuku pork belly buns

roasted curry cauliflower and broccoli

arctic surf clams with ginger, green onion, chili oil

salted caramel madeleines

red velvet cake with berries

Grandma ChouDown's Wontons
as many as you want to wrap

2 lbs twice ground pork front shoulder*
1 egg
1/4 cup water
1 Tbps minced fresh ginger
1 tsp ground white pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
3 packages wonton wrappers, room temperature**
Chopped green onion

Place pork in a large bowl and crack in egg. Using your hand, squeeze meat together with egg until well blended. Slowly drizzle in water, while continuing to mash with your hand. Add in ginger, white pepper and salt. Take four wooden chopsticks and stir everything together in a clockwise motion until everything is well combined. The hand blending is very important, as it really tenderizes the meat and makes them soft in the wontons. Making Grandma ChouDown's wontons are not for the faint of heart!

Lay out a wonton wrapper and put one teaspoon of meat in the center. Fold as many wontons as possible and place them one by one on a baking sheet as you go along. They may be cooked fresh or frozen on the baking sheets. After two hours, pop the wontons off and keep them in the freezer in large Ziploc bags. They can be dropped straight into boiling water from the freezer - good for quick meals.***

Bring a large pot of water to a hard boil. Swirl the water clockwise with a ladle, then drop in the wontons. Swirling keeps the wontons from sticking to each other as they plop in. Cook for 2-3 minutes; the wontons are done when they float to the surface of the water. Serve one of these ways. The great thing about this is that everyone can have the wontons the way they prefer it.

(1) Place at the bottom of a bowl a bit of ground white pepper, chicken boullion powder, soy sauce, sesame oil and shredded dried seaweed. Ladle in wontons and about 1 cup of cooking water or chicken broth (omit chicken boullion if using chicken broth); mix well. Top with green onion and serve.

(2) Place at the bottom of a bowl a bit of soy sauce, sesame oil and lots of chili oil ("la yau"). Drain wontons briefly and ladle into bowl; mix well. Top with green onion and serve.

* I asked for "front shoulder meat" in Chinese at the Asian grocery store and the butcher got me "cushion meat" from the display case. I think that's the translation? They will run the pork through the grinder twice if you ask them to.
** Make sure the wonton wrappers are at room temperature. I like Hong Kong brand, which is in pink packaging. Do not buy dumpling or potsticker wrappers, which are thicker.
*** You can fold your wontons into any shape you want. I'm sure there are plenty of Google videos. Some people just like to scrumch the tops. I make mine in "nurses hat" shapes because that's what my Grandma taught me. They look so cute all lined up like that.

Recipes for other dishes to be posted this week!

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