Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Cooking the Book: Into the Vietnamese Kitchen - Fried Wontons

Like the Bakewise cookbook, I received “Into the Vietnamese Kitchen” by Andrea Nguyen as a Christmas gift. Again, much like “Bakewise”, I’ve taken my sweet time in trying it out. Looking for something relatively simple to start with, I found a recipe for fried wontons in the “Gifts to the Mouth” section. I’m not sure what makes a Vietnamese wonton different from any other Asian wonton, but I’m sure it would be delicious.

The ingredient list for the wonton filling is quite short.

Here I have 1 small scallion (white part only) finely chopped along with a single finely chopped clove of garlic. The other ingredients are ½ teaspoon of cornstarch, 1/8 teaspoon of sugar, ½ teaspoon of salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper. It’s really annoying working with such diminutive portions.

Moving on to the meat, Nguyen’s recipe called for ¼ lb medium shrimp.

I suppose 4 shrimp are a ¼ lb.

After deveining and peeling, I cut them into “pea-sized pieces”.

The last filling ingredient was a 1/3 lb ground pork.

Feeling lazy, I started mixing the ingredients with a fork.

I know I should use chopsticks for the sake of authenticity, but I was trying to save my patience for the wrapping stage.

With my filling ready to go, I got my package of wonton wrappers from the fridge.

This is what the Kroger had to offer. I really should have just driven the extra 10 minutes and gone to the Asian market.

Working with 2 teaspoons, I set about making the wontons.

You can see that I’ve lightly brushed water along the edges of the wonton. Folding it the edge of the wrapper over, I made the wonton into a triangle. Making sure to push out all the air, I sealed the wrapper as best I could.

Soon enough, I had a whole tray of wontons ready to either freeze or fry.

I realize that my wontons look a little odd, but I didn’t think that the triangle would look very good after frying. As a result, I folded two points of the triangle together and made a little loop.

I immediately got ready to see if my work was worthwhile. With a wok full of peanut oil and hot, I started to fry some of the wontons.

Ready to recoil from a burst wonton, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I didn’t have a single pop.

Unfortunately, I was a little careless and let my wontons cook for too long.

And the results? They were quite crispy and tasty. Eschewing the recipe for sweet-and-sour sauce, I sampled my wontons with a mixture of sriracha and soy sauce. Great success! I’m still not sure what really makes these Vietnamese wontons as they taste remarkably similar to the wontons from the Thai House in Jackson. Regardless, I’m anxious to explore the rest of Nguyen’s book and try my hand at some more Vietnamese dishes.

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