Epic Wonton Soup

Wonton Soup

Finally, I am back to share the rest of that epic recipe I hinted at in my previous post.  Thank you for your patience.

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I’ve been playing hooky all week.

I realize that most of the recipes I post on this blog reference some fond childhood memory.  Now, either I didn’t frown until I was fourteen or I have a tendency to glaze over the less desirable parts of my early years.  Since I photographic proof that I was an excellent pouter before the age of two, I’ll blame it on rosy nostalgia.  But this soup is my childhood, or it at least occupies a very happy corner of it.

Mushrooms steaming

Whenever my mother and I miraculously found ourselves home alone we would steal away to a little hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant up the street from my childhood home.  There we would indulge in an order of Shanghai Noodles and a bowl of wonton soup.  Their wontons were deliciously meaty, bursting with filling and flavored to perfection.  Sadly, their food has gone downhill.  Instead of providing their costumers with amazing food on the cheap, they are now, quite simply cheap.  But that’s okay, because now that I can conduct myself in the kitchen without trying to sample raw meat (I was a weird child) I can make it myself.  So my mother and I rolled up our sleeves and set about making this rather epic wonton soup.

Mushrooms

Now, it’s difficult to provide an accurate recipe, as my mother does not measure or weight any of her ingredients.  The magic of her cooking is in her intuition.  To my mother cooking is a creative endeavor and who has time to be bogged down by numbers when you’re in the midst of creating a masterpiece?

This may be why my mother has never been much of a baker.

Black Fungus (More delicious than it sounds)

Also, my mother has an extensive collection of fancy dried fungi.  This is black fungus. You don’t have to use all the varieties I have listed.  A medley of dried mushrooms, which you can find easily in your local supermarket, should do the trick.

Wonton Filling

Anyway, here’s the recipe as best I can recall.  Follow these steps and I’m sure you’ll get something delicious.  The broth is a hybrid of several different Asian soups, so if you want something authentic please look elsewhere.

Wonton

It may look like a lot of work, but if you’re smart about it (we weren’t) it’s not so bad.  Make the wontons several days before, freeze them and you’ll be miles ahead of the pack.  We garnished our soups with slices of this tenderloin and steamed Chinese broccoli, but feel free to change them up.  I think bok choy would be lovely.

Epic Wonton Soup

Enjoy our zippy little concoction.

Epic Wonton Soup: Serves 8-12 or a small army

For The Wontons:

800g wonton wrappers

¼ pound ground pork

¼ pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 stalks green onion, cut into thirds

½ cup of water chestnuts

2 eggs, divided

1 tbsp water

2 tbsp ginger

4 cloves garlic

2 tbsp cornstarch

1 ½ tsp five spice powder

2 tbsp sherry

¼ cup soy sauce

4 tsp sesame oil

For the Broth:

2 cups boiling water

1 cup dried mushroom medley (try to get one with shitake mushrooms)

25g black fungus (more delicious than it sounds)

25g yellow fungus

1 medium onion, diced

4 cloves garlic

2 tbsp ginger, minced

1 tbsp sesame oil

2 tbsp peanut oil

1 1/2 tsp sriracha sauce

1 cup dry white wine

2 tbsp soy sauce or to taste

2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

8 cups chicken stock

1 red sweet pepper

2 stalks green onion, sliced

1 cup water chestnuts

1 egg, beaten

Directions:

WONTONS:

Place pork, shrimp, onion, water chestnuts, one egg, cornstarch, ginger, garlic, five-spice-powder, sherry, soy sauce and sesame oil in a food processor.

Pulse until all ingredients come together and are evenly distributed throughout.

In a small bowl whisk together the remaining egg and water and set aside.

Place a wonton wrapper on a dry, clean cutting board.

Dip you finger in the egg mixture and trace one corner of the wonton.

Place one teaspoon of the filling in the center of the wrapper.

Fold wrapper corner to corner so it forms a triangle.

Seal wonton by pressing the edges.  Be sure to remove as much air from the center of the wonton as possible.

Place a small amount of the egg mixture on the bottom corners of your wrapper and fold the corners toward the center, hugging the encased filling.

Repeat until you run out of wrappers.  Set aside until ready to cook.

BROTH:

In a large bowl place dried mushrooms and black and yellow fungi.

Douse with boiling water.  Cover and let sit for 30 minutes.

While you’re waiting, heat peanut and sesame oil over medium high heat in a large stockpot.

Once the oil begins to shimmer, add onion, ginger, and garlic.  Sauté until the onion is slightly translucent.  About five minutes.

Add white wine, sriracha sauce, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar.

Bring mixture to a boil then add chicken stock.

Once the mushrooms are soft, drain them using a fine mesh strainer.  Reserve the water.

Add mushroom broth to the chicken stock and bring mixture to a boil.

Reduce heat and let simmer for 15 -20 minutes.

Chop reserved mushrooms and add them to the broth along with the water chestnuts.

Bring the soup back up to a boil and slowly pour beaten egg into the soup.  Add wontons.

Once the wontons start to rise to the top, add green onions and red pepper.

Cook for three minutes, then remove from heat and serve.

Garnish with steamed Chinese broccoli and slices of Asian BBQ pork tenderloin.

*Be sure not to over cook the wontons or you’ll never forgive yourself.

Asian BBQ Pork Tenderloin

BBQ'd Pork Tenderloin

I’ve been back in Nova Scotia for a week now and I am happy to report I have been cooking up a storm. We’ve been in Halifax for just a few days and my mother and I have already developed a lovely daily ritual. It starts with a run in the morning (to combat all we’ve been eating), shopping in the afternoon (consequently, I’m broke) and an evening of white wine and cooking. The success of our cooking is often dependent on the amount of wine we drink, but for the most part our culinary exploits have yielded some amazing results. I’m sorry to keep so many wonderful recipes from you, but I’ve been too busy catching up and bonding with my mom to be incessantly snapping photos. My ravenous family also seems to object to waiting for their food while I try to get a glamour shot out of it.
Ginger, garlic, green onion

This pork tenderloin, on the other hand, was just too good! I felt obligated to share it with you. It’s actually apart of a much larger recipe but, you’ll have to wait on that, I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.

Marinade

My mother cooked a lot of Asian-inspired dishes while I was growing up. How a woman from PEI managed to accumulate such an impressive repertoire of Asian recipes is beyond me, but this book may have something to do with it.

Many of my childhood favorites were adapted from this book and I’m pretty sure this picture is responsible for my melon ball obsession.

 

My mother never strove for authenticity, she strove for flavor. I’ve never seen someone so fearless in the kitchen. A quick taste and she knows exactly what to do. There is no second-guessing or thinking out loud, just a swift movement to the fridge or cabinet to track down exactly what the recipe needs.
Marinaded Pork Tenderloin

This pork tenderloin was intended to be char sui, despite being the wrong cut of meat for such an occupation. That intent quickly went out the window. My mother’s fridge is always stocked with any Asian condiment you could think of, so like a kid in candy store I let my taste be my guide and this is what I came up with. My mother ensured it was BBQ’d to perfection and it was easily the most beautifully cooked piece of pork I’ve had in a long time.
Asian BBQ'd Pork Tenderloin

While it’s certainly not authentic Chinese fare, it’s exactly like most of the food I grew up on. It’s no wonder I have such a love for fusion cuisine. Be sure to give it a try before BBQ season is over.
BBQ'd Pork Tenderloin

Enjoy!

Asian Inspired BBQ Pork Tenderloin: Serves 4
1 ¼ pound pork tenderloin
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1/4 cup green onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp sriracha sauce

Directions:
Combine all ingredients except pork in a small bowl and whisk to combine.
Place tenderloin in a large zip-lock bag and pour marinade over the meat.
Let it marinate in the fridge for at least an hour. Overnight is better.
When ready to cook turn your BBQ to high heat.
Remove pork from marinade and pat dry.
Reserve the marinade for basting.
Sear the tenderloin on all sides. About three minutes a side for a total of 12 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium and cook for an additional 12 minutes. Continue to rotate the meat every three minutes, basting often.
Remove meat from heat and tent with tin foil and leave to rest for ten minutes.
Slice and serve.

Spicy Mango Pulled Pork

Pulled Pork Sandwich

It was my brother’s birthday last weekend and I was lucky enough to spend it at my family’s cottage.  Every year we celebrate my bro’s birthday by consuming a few pigs and whole lotta beer.  We call it Pig Fest (my family is ever so refined).  Sausages, ribs, pulled pork, bacon, pork chops; you name it and we’ve probably served it to mark the occasion.   Clearly the movie Babe never really got to my brother; then again no animal related movie ever does.  The first time I ever ate venison my brother told me it was Bambi’s mother… I was four and yes, I’m still scared from the experience, although it was infinitely less painful than the time he convinced me that Keens Hot Mustard was butterscotch pudding.

Gotta love siblings, they’re so friendly.

Garlic

This was the first time we served pulled pork at our annual family pig out and I was left in charge of the preparation.  The pressure was on!  I knew I had a lot to live up to.  We’ve been throwing these shindigs since my brother’s fifteenth birthday and that was… well; I feel like I shouldn’t say or I may find myself being force fed spicy mustard all over again.  Anyway, it was a touch risky to add a new item to the menu of such a legendary event, but I persevered and wound up with the deliciousness you see before you now.

Mango

I knew going in that the ribs (the pièce de résistance of every pig fest to date) would win out, but I think I gave it my best effort and although I may be slightly biased, I favored the pulled pork over the ribs, but don’t tell my mom.  Since the ribs were slathered in Phil’s (an a amazing BBQ joint in San Diego) BBQ sauce, I wanted the pulled pork to be completely different, so I wouldn’t invite anyone to compare the two.   I chose to contrast the smoky sweetness of the Phil’s sauce with a vaguely Asian concoction that was sweet, tangy and spicy but in a very different way.

Pureed mango with jalapenos and green onion

Since pork and fruit of any kind get along like a house on fire, I grabbed a sad little mango languishing in the crisper and went from there.  For a touch of spice I threw in some jalapenos and fresh ginger.  I added a healthy dose of soy sauce to balance the sweet and enhanced the overall taste with a burst of citrus, courtesy of some lemongrass, a touch of marmalade and a splash of lime juice.  Then I simply doused the pork shoulder in this lovely blend and cooked the hell out of it.

Pork shoulder and marinade

Many of my family members ate it all on it’s own, but that was not enough for me.  Oh no, I had to take it to the next level.  I served this delectable treat in a bun (sadly, this was the only half-way decent bun I could find out in the boonies) and topped it with this coleslaw, which you’ve already met.  The creaminess of the coleslaw melted into the saucy pork and the crunch of the pepitas definitely added something special.  If at all possible consume both these recipes together… unless you’re not a fan of citrus in which case I wouldn’t make either.

Pulled Pork Sandwich with Cilantro Lime Coleslaw

But if you happen to have won a lemon-eating contest at the tender age of fourteen (you may want to forget that tidbit of information) then welcome home!  This sandwich was made for you!

Enjoy!

Spicy Mango Pulled Pork: Serves 8

6-8 pound bone-in boston butt

1 mango, cubed

5 cloves of garlic

1/8 cup lime juice

2 tbsp pureed lemongrass

3 tbsp fresh ginger, roughly chopped

3 tbsp sweet chili sauce (I used President’s Choice)

2 tbsp marmalade

2 jalapenos, divided

2 stalks of green onions, sliced

1/8 cup soy sauce (or to taste)

2 tsp sesame oil

2 cups of water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300°

In a food processor place mango, garlic, lime juice, lemongrass, ginger, chili sauce, marmalade and one intact jalapeno.

Blend until smooth.

Deseed and dice the second jalapeno.

Pour puree into a medium sized bowl and stir in soy sauce, green onions, diced jalapeno and sesame oil.

Pat pork shoulder dry with paper towel and place it in a large dutch oven.

Pour mango mixture over the meat making sure to get it in every nook and cranny.  Add water.

Cover the pot and place it in the center of the oven.

Cook for one hour then turn the pork and spoon the juices over the top.

Repeat for six hours or until the meat comes easily off the bone.

Remove the fat and bone and shred the pork using two forks.

You can serve it right away, but I let mine cool and popped it in the fridge over night and reheated it the next day.

Serve it on it’s own or in a sandwich.

Almond Crusted Shrimp and Mango Salad

I am back! Hope you guys had wonderful holidays!

Meanwhile after getting a good rest, I left my zone of comfort….

…and look at me! I fried something!

Mango

I never fry anything! I have a deep-frying phobia.

Cucumber

I, like the rest of humanity, happen to love fried food! Anything deep-fried is positively out of this world. I bet if you deep-fried a boot it would taste delicious, but as much as I love these crispy edibles I’m still wary of deep-frying at home. I’m sure it would be a different story if I had a proper deep fryer, but if I had said deep fryer I would also be 300 pounds. So, I figure it’s in my best interest to make deep fat frying as cumbersome as possible. I didn’t even do a legit deep fry for this week’s recipe. It was more of a shallow fry; I couldn’t quite bring myself to add the full amount of oil, guilt was holding me back. This time, I simply borrowed a deep fryer from my friend, it was Waring deep fryer.

No. No way I am buying one myself.

Red pepper

Yes, it was messy and yes, I did fear my kitchen afterwards, but these almond crusted fried shrimp were well worth the grease burns.  I served them atop a mound of spicy mango salad and garnished the whole lot with fresh cilantro and dry-roasted peanuts. The combination of the piping hot shrimp and chilled salad was out of this world. The shrimp was beautifully juicy and it’s breading brought a subtle crunch to the dish.

Red Onion

My beau was adequately impressed with my efforts. He could hardly believe I fried anything. I’m usually a stickler when it comes to nutrition, but I justified the whole exercise by saying it was for the blog. Do you hear that? If your at all interested in the state of your waistline don’t start a food blog, it messes with your logic.

Almond Crusted Shrimp

As deep-frying adventures go this one was fairly uneventful. Shrimp cooks quickly and the breading process with simple and efficient. Salads are always low maintenance, but I will warn you there is a fair amount of chopping involved.

Almond Crusted Shrimp and Mango Salad (II)

Decadently rich and restaurant caliber, Almond Crusted Shrimp and Mango Salad is one recipe you’ll be happy to have sitting in your back pocket when all you can think about is expensive takeout. This recipe will subdue those pesky cravings and save you a bundle at the same time.

Almond Crusted Shrimp and Mango Salad: Serves 4

FOR THE SHRIMP

16 shrimp, deveined and shelled with tails on

¼ cup almond meal

1 egg, beaten

2 tbsp milk

Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups peanut oil

FOR THE SALAD

1 mango, julienned

¼ cucumber, julienned

½ red bell pepper, julienned

¼ red onion, sliced

¼ dry roasted peanuts

½ cup fresh cilantro, torn

DRESSING

4 tbsp vegetable oil

2 tbsp granulated sugar

¼ cup lime juice

1 tsp sambal oelek

1 tbsp fish sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Place veggies, mango and cilantro in a large bowl and toss to combine.

In a small bowl whisk together dressing ingredients and set aside.

In another small bowl combine ground almonds and salt and pepper.

Combine egg and milk.

One by one douse each shrimp in the egg and milk mixture then roll them in the almond mixture and set aside on a plate.

When each shrimp has been coated heat oil in a large wok until it reaches about 350°

Drop shrimp into the oil and fry, turning once, until golden brown.

Remove from oil and leave to drain on paper towels.

Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat.

Divide salad amongst four plates and top with peanuts.

Arrange four shrimp on top of each salad and serve immediately.

Curried Cauliflower and Ginger Soup

This week Toronto felt the brisk wind of fall and, although I’m a huge fan of summer, I have to admit I felt somewhat relied.  I’m ready for the humidity to leave and stop wreaking havoc with my hair, I’m ready to not sweat my makeup off while I’m waiting or the bus in the morning and, first and foremost, I’m ready to leave heat stroke behind.

Chickpeas

This summer was like enduring the torments of hell.  I am having trouble recollecting a hotter summer.

Seasoned Chickpeas

Looking back at the recipes I posted over the past four months, I realized how little I actually used the stove.  Fresh produce is glorious and I certainly made the most of nature’s bounty this summer, but I’m ready to get reacquainted with my stove and my always-hilarious bipolar oven (it really keeps me on my toes).

Cauliflower

I’m ready to walk into my apartment with cheeks stinging from the cold and plunk myself down in front of a steaming bowl of soup.  Oh, and I can’t wait to make casseroles again, I adore comfort food and we’re finally approaching its peak season.

Cauliflower Florets

But as with most things I lack patience and yesterday is was a balmy 27° and I still made soup.

Roasted Chickpeas

This Curried Cauliflower and Ginger soup was made for runny noses and numb toes, but, of course, yesterday I suffered from neither affliction.  I may have jumped the gun, but its good to know I have an excellent recipe in my back pocket once ski season hits.  This soup is spicy, aromatic and über comforting.  I have never encountered a soup so capable of warming you from the inside out.  So, as you start to bundle up for the coming bleak months, remember this soup.  Nothing will warm your bones quite like a bowl of this fantastically simple and inexpensive Curried Cauliflower and Ginger soup.

Curried Cauliflower and Ginger Soup

Curried Cauliflower and Ginger Soup: Serves 6

1 head of Cauliflower, cut into florets

1 medium-sized onion, diced

4 tbsp fresh ginger, minced

3 tbsp butter

3 tbsp garam marsala

½ tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cumin

1/8 tsp dried chili flakes

1 pinch of cloves

2 ½ cups low sodium chicken broth

1 cup milk (I used 1%)

Salt and pepper to taste

Batch of Curried Roasted Chickpeas

Directions:

Melt butter in a medium-sized dutch oven over medium-high heat.

Add onions and ginger and sauté until the onion is translucent.

Pour in the spices and sauté until fragrant.

Next, place the cauliflower in the pot and add the chicken stock.

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and leave to simmer for 15 minuets or until the cauliflower is tender.

Remove from heat and puree using an immersion blender.

Return to heat and add milk and simmer until heated through.

Taste and season accordingly with salt and pepper.

Serve with crushed roasted chickpeas.

 

Curried Roasted Chickpeas: Serves 4

540 ml can of chickpeas

2 tbsp peanut oil

2 tsp sugar

2 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp garam marsala

1 tsp kosher salt

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp cumin

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°

Drain and rinse chickpeas and leave to dry for 10-15 minutes.

While chickpeas are draining place all the spices in a small bowl and stir to combine.

Roll chickpeas in paper towel to remove excess moisture.

Place dried chickpeas in a large bowl.

Drizzle the chickpeas with peanut oil and toss with salt, pepper and spices.

Place on a dry cookie sheet and bake for thirty minutes, shaking the pan every ten.

Remove from oven and leave to cool.