Some beautiful people at my husband’s work organised a picnic lunch last weekend. It was a diverse mix of people – Australians, Germans, Chinese and a few Indian families. A father brought his son and some yummy curry cooked by his wife’s friend.
“Why your wife’s friend cooked for us, a bunch of strangers?” we asked.
“Our Indians always help each other out in the community”, he smiled, ‘my son, for example, lived with his aunt for a few years; and our neighbor had picked him up from school for many years, unpaid of course”.
That sounds lovely, and a dream for many of us.
I live in a suburb in Sydney. I like the area because it has lots of big trees and the community was warm and welcoming. Things changed over the past few years with skyrocket housing prices. Moms are now working more hours and the stress spreading in the air.
How I wish we could have a closely knit community who can help each other, or simply having the time to ask each other, “are you ok?”
Here is a large wonton ‘salad’ I prepared for the picnic, a dish perfect for sharing.
The dish is somehow Cantonese, spiced with a Hong Kong style XO sauce made with scallop, fish, garlic and chili; yet it is not quite Cantonese as it was served lightly chilled, a cooking style used frequently by Northern China called the ‘liang ban’ (cool-mix).
A video on how to wrap wontons is also attached below.
Recipe is as follow:
Wonton dumpling filling:
- 1 kg of minced pork or chicken (with some fat)
- 1/2 to 1 cup of garlic chive, finely diced
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp chicken bouillon powder
- 1 tsp of sugar
- 1 tsp ginger garlic paste (from an Indian grocery store)
- white pepper and salt, to taste
- If the Sichuan pepper water is not used (see below*), a little water to thin out the paste
Below are optional ingredients:
- 12 small Chinese mushrooms, or 4 large ones, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes and finely diced
- 1-2 large dry wood ear fungus (木耳), soaked in hot water for 20 minutes, finely diced
- 50g bamboo shoot, from tin, finely diced
- 6 water chestnut, from tin, finely diced
- 1/4 cup frozen corn kernels
- 2 tbsp finely chopped coriander
- 2 tbsp finely chopped green shallot (scallion)
- 1 tsp Sichuan pepper corn, lightly crashed, soaked in 1 tbsp of hot water for 10 minutes, discard the pepper corn, retain the pepper infused water *
To make the wonton dumplings:
- about 100 wonton wrappers
- Cooking oil for cooking the dumplings in water
For the salad:
- 1-2 tbsp XO sauce (or to your liking)
- 1-2 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 1-2 tbsp sesame oil
- a small bunch of coriander, leafy part only, washed, roughly chopped
- Add all ingredients to a mixer, process (one direction) for about 10 minutes to form a smooth paste; place the mixture in the fridge for at lease 1 hour or overnight as the flavor will develop.
- If you don’t have a mixer, stir with a pair of chopstick, one direction, until the meat form a smooth paste, approximately 10 minutes.
- Put some filling in the center of a wonton wrapper; fold the wrapper diagonally, at the same time squeeze the wrapper inward loosely to form a dumpling shape; squeeze the edge firmly to lock in its shape.
- The wontons can be frozen until ready to use. To freeze, place wontons on a tray as a single layer to avoid them sticking to each other. Once frozen, transfer the dumplings to a snap bag.
Cooking the wonton dumplings
- Bring a large pot of water to boil, add plenty of (2-3 tbsp) of cooking oil. Once the water is boiling, add a batch of wontons to the pot (do not overcrowd). Once the wontons float to the top of water, allow them to cook for further 3-4 minutes (may be longer for larger wontons) before scooping the wontons out with a sieve; drain off all the liquid and place the wontons on a plate (or on a bench top lined with cling wrap) to cool in a single layer, not touching each other. Repeat with the rest of the wontons.
For the salad:
Once the wontons are cool, transfer them to a large mixing bowl, add XO sauce, dark soy sauce, sesame oil and coriander, mix well (use your hand, wear gloves, you may need to give the XO sauce a bit of a squeeze as it is a thick sauce).
Served slightly chilled or at room temperature.