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.

Warm Open-Faced Mushroom and Brie Sandwich

Mushrooms, Brie and Arugula

Happy Thanksgiving my fellow canucks!  You will have to forgive my somewhat lackluster display of holiday spirit.  There is not a single Thanksgiving recipe on my blog.  There are some that would be most welcome at any holiday table, but none that exclusively scream Turkey Day.

Mushrooms

To make me feel truly ashamed of myself, the good people over at Tasty Kitchen wrote up a lovely piece on the Canadians on their site and included yours truly. Such a wonderful gesture bestowed on a lazy blogger that has basically been MIA since September. I am trying to adjust to a different lifestyle and juggling two jobs and this blog is an exhausting endeavor, but bare with me, I’ll get this sorted out if it kills me.

Brie

I know I’ve been a horrible tease. I leave, announce I’m back and then I leave again. I realize it will take sometime to rebuild the trust between us dear reader, but I think, in time, we can move past this thoughtlessness and be stronger for it.

Multi-Grain Bread

The first step towards healing is this Warm Open-Face Mushroom and Brie Sandwich. If anyone crossed me and then offered me this tasty treat I would definitely rethink excommunicating them.

Mushrooms, Basil

These days I find myself strapped for time. I often have to hit the kitchen running. Lately, grilled cheese has been a favorite of mine. Easy, quick and wonderfully cost effective.  Give me a bowl of hot tomato soup and gooey grilled cheese on a rainy day and I am one happy camper. This open-faced number is riff on this foul weather classic.

Warm Open-Faced Mushroom Brie Sandwich

This sandwich is not grilled, instead the cheese melts into freshly toasted bread.  It liquifies further still when the cheese is crowned with an avalanche of freshly sautéed mushrooms and garlic. If this weren’t heavenly enough, this gorgeous concoction is completed with a halo of peppery arugula. Serve this bad boy up with a hot bowl of soup and consume with a knife and fork.

Open-Faced Mushroom Brie Sandwich

Simple, satisfying and ready to eat in fifteen minutes flat, this sandwich is the perfect treat after a long draining day. Let’s face it; you’ve clocked way too many hours in the kitchen this weekend. After the excitement of Thanksgiving the Warm Open-Face Mushroom Brie Sandwich is just what the doctor ordered.

Warm Open-Face Mushroom and Brie Sandwich: Serves 2

2 slices of Multi grain Bread

4 tbsp olive oil, divided

2 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

4 tbsp fresh basil, chiffonade

6 slices brie cheese

2 handfuls of arugula

Directions:

Turn your oven to broil.

Brush 2 tbsp of olive oil on both sides of the bread and broil until golden brown flipping halfway through.

Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.

Add mushrooms and garlic and sauté until browned and fragrant.

Remove bread from the oven and immediately place brie on top.

Split the mushrooms amongst the two slices of bread.

Sprinkle with basil.

Top with arugula.

Serve with a piping hot bowl of your favorite soup.