Sichuan Wontons in Chili Oil

Sichuan Wontons in Chili OilMy Little Dumpling
Most people when they are learning to cook start off simple. Scrambled eggs. Roast chicken. Pancakes. The first things my daughter taught herself to make were pork dumplings.

To be fair, dim sum and all other Chinese dumplings are basically her favorite food. So, it makes sense that this is what she would want to know how to make. And, this is pretty much her M.O. She finds something that she is interested in, become obsessive about it, and then sets off to master it. And, once she has, she moves on to the next thing. Her current obsession? French Macarons. And there is now almond flour on every surface of my home…

As luck would have it, our cookbook club was cooking through a Chinese cookbook at the time she wanted to learn about dumpling—and there happened to be a wonton recipe that we decided to try. So I figured it would be a fun day of bonding with my daughter and teaching her a new skill. Little did I know I was about to be schooled…

Making the filling for the dumplings is fairly uncomplicated. All you are doing is just mixing the ingredients together. The difficult part of making dumplings is in the folding of the wrapper. They can be tricky and it takes some practice to get it right. The first few that I produced were misshapen and scary and the filling kept squishing out. My (at that time) ten-year-old daughter’s? Perfect. So perfect, in fact, she had to show me and my many years of cooking experience where I was going wrong. I have no idea where she learned to do it, but apparently, my daughter is a dumpling prodigy. And I, a mere mortal, bow to her greatness.

We did end up having a great time working together and the dumplings were so good. The best part was sitting down after it was all done to devour them with spicy chili sauce…

Sichuan Wontons in Chili Oil 
Adapted from Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking
by Fuchsia Dunlop
Yields 4 servings, about 15 to 20 wontons


For the wontons
1/2-ounce piece of ginger, unpeeled
5-ounces ground pork
1/2 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon dry sherry
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
Salt and ground pepper to taste
3 tablespoons chicken stock
3 tablespoons finely sliced spring onion greens
7-ounce package of wonton wrappers
Flour for dusting

For the dipping sauce
4 tablespoons light or tamari soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar
5 tablespoons of chili oil, including sediment
3 heaping teaspoons of crushed garlic
2 tablespoons of finely sliced spring onion greens

Make the wonton filling
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, sherry, and sesame oil in a bowl with 1 1/2 tsp of the ginger water and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well. Mix in the stock, 1 tablespoon at a time. Finally, add the spring onion greens.

Make the wontons
Fill a small bowl with cold water. Take a wonton wrapper and lay it flat in one hand. Use a butter knife to press about 1 teaspoon 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 baking tray that has been lightly dusted with flour.

Place a large pan of water on high heat and bring to a boil.

Prepare the sauce
While waiting for the water to boil, prepare the sauce. Set out three or four serving bowls. In each bowl, place 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon of the sugar, 1-1/2 tablespoons of the chili oil, and 1 heaping teaspoon of crushed garlic. Stir the ingredients to blend.

Cook the wontons
When the water has come to a boil, drop in the wontons. Stir gently to prevent sticking. When the water returns to a rolling boil, pour in a small cup of cold water to calm it down. Allow the water to come to a rolling boil and repeat this one more time. When the water has come to a boil for the third time, the wontons should be cooked through (slice one open to make sure).

Remove the wontons with a slotted spoon, drain well, and divide them between the prepared serving bowls. Scatter each bowl with some of the chopped spring onion greens. Stir everything together and serve immediately.




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