If you're ever really, really bored some weekend and want to turn your dinner into a craft project, try making wontons.
We weren't bored yesterday -- we went to an exhibit of Frank Lloyd Wright architectural memorabilia, plus some amazing multidimensional "light paintings" and photographic works at the Midland Center For the Arts -- but we came home and made steamed wontons anyway. They were awfully good, and not all that difficult to assemble once we hit on a process.
Here are the two recipes we tried.
1/2 pound firm tofu
1/2 cup coarsely grated carrots
1/2 cup shredded Napa cabbage
2 tablespoons finely chopped red pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions
2 teaspoons finely minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 egg, lightly beaten (totally unncessary, in my opinion)
1 teaspoon kosher salt (also unnecessary, at least this amount)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Bowl of water, plus additional water for steamer
35 to 40 small wonton wrappers
Non-stick vegetable spray, for the steamer
Cut the tofu in half horizontally and lay between layers of paper towels.
Place on a plate, top with another plate, and place a weight on top (a 14-ounce can of vegetables works well). Let stand 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, cut the tofu into 1/4-inch cubes and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the carrots, cabbage, red pepper, scallions, ginger, cilantro, soy sauce, hoisin, sesame oil, egg, salt, and pepper. Lightly stir to combine.
To form the dumplings, remove 1 wonton wrapper from the package, covering the others with a damp cloth. Brush the edges of the wrapper lightly with water. Place 1/2 rounded teaspoon of the tofu mixture in the center of the wrapper. Shape as desired. Set on a sheet pan and cover with a damp cloth. Repeat procedure until all of the filling is gone.
Using a steaming apparatus of your choice, bring 1/4 to 1/2-inch of water to a simmer over medium heat. Spray the steamer's surface lightly with the non-stick vegetable spray to prevent sticking. Place as many dumplings as will fit into a steamer, without touching each other. Cover and steam for 10 to 12 minutes over medium heat. Remove the dumplings from the steamer to a heatproof platter and place in oven to keep warm. Repeat until all dumplings are cooked.
(Cook's note: We left out the cilantro, hyped up the hoisin and soy sauce a bit, and added a little dab of chili paste. We steamed the wontons in the microwave -- put about a half-inch of water in the steamer, heated it up for five minutes, added the wontons and nuked those for about five minutes. And -- we found that very swiftly dipping the entire finished wonton in water kept them from unwrapping and from drying out on top.)
about a half pound or so of ground pork
1 large onion chopped very fine
8-10 cloves of garlic chopped very fine (don't be afraid)
3 tbsps soy sauce
1 tbsp chilli sauce (we used Korean garlic chili paste -- yum!)
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
Salt to taste
vegetable/canola/sunflower cooking oil
wonton wrappers (the original recipe called for homemade dough, but we weren't quite that culinarily ambitious)
Heat a little oil in a pan and fry the onions till translucent. Add the garlic and fry till it begins to turn golden.
Add the meat and brown.
Add the soy and chilli sauces and mix well.
Add the freshly ground pepper, salt to taste and cook till the pork is done.
Dab a tiny bit of water on the edges of the wontons. Put a dab of pork in the center of each circle. Fold the edges over the pork and pinch and twist to seal or fold the momo in half and pinch the edges shut. Get as creative as you like with shapes, as long as you make sure to seal the edges well. Place the momos in a steamer and cook for 10-15 minutes. These goodies, by the way, are from Sikkim, in the Himalayas.