Recipe, Guide And Tips From A Hong Kong Kitchen
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Category — poaching

3 Wonton Recipes From Different Parts Of China

Wonton, or Chinese dumpling, is a staple food popular throughout China. As a Cantonese I am proud to say that the word Wonton comes from Cantonese rather than Mandarin, as the dumplings were likely introduced to the West by early settlers in Chinatown, who came primarily from the Cantonese-speaking coastal cities in Southern China.

In Chinese, wonton means “swallowing clouds“. If you are familiar with Chinese art you may also find that the wonton, floating in the soup, resembles the traditional “spiral cloud” motif in Chinese handicrafts. One famous example: The Torch for the Beijing Olympics is known as the “Lucky Cloud Torch” in Chinese.

Wontons are slightly different in various part of China. May I give you an introduction?

Cantonese Wonton

The Cantonese wonton has a yellow wrapping (made from flour and egg: think pasta sheet) typically filled with minced pork and shrimp. The dumplings are usually served in egg noodles, a type of thin, very chewy (almost like rubber band) noodle prevalent in Southern China.

Interestingly, the preparation of the broth is an art in itself — all the best wonton shops have their own secret recipes for the soup base; but in general, shrimp shells is believed to be a major ingredient.

Shanghainese Wonton

shanghai wonton recipeThis type of Chinese dumpling has a white, thicker wrapping (made from flour only) and the filling includes minced pork and Shanghainese bok choy. In some variations chopped leeks and spring onions are added.

For the soup, the soup base is usually made from mixing soy sauce, water and a bit of seasoning, mostly to give color to the unappealing white appearance. (White is a taboo color for traditional Chinese because it is associated with death).

While minced pork remains the most popular ingredient, international cuisines have inspired a lot of new varieties: chicken with mushroom, carrot, beans with corn, preserved vegetables with black fungus… exciting!

Sichuan Wonton

Known as “Chao Shou” (crossed hands), they also have a white, relatively thick wrapping. Chao Shou is boiled and served in very, very spicy sauce, as in almost all Sichuan cuisine.

As to why this particular dumpling is called Chao Shou, I think its name originates from how it is wrapped: the wrapping is first folded into a triangular shape and the two sides of the triangle is brought to the front, overlapping each other, resembling a person folding his arms.

The Shanghainese wonton is also folded into a triangle, but a slight twist in the second folding gives it a lovely shape. For the Cantonese style, the wonton is simply wrapped by bringing the four corners together and squeeze. Cantonese wontons first appeared as street foods, and hawkers got to find the quickest way to wrap up the wontons.

You may have noticed that I never mention fried wontons. Yes, we never fry our wontons. They are boiled, then served in plate or in a bowl of broth. That’s why they are also known as the Wonton Soup.


What’s the Difference Between Jiaozi (Gyoza) and Wonton?

Oh, they are different. Jiaozi, or Gyoza in Japanese, are basically potstickers: they have a thicker wrapping, with texture similar to thick ravioli wraps. They also take a longer, flatter, horn-like shape (”Jiao” sounds like “horn” in Mandarin).

Depending on the provinces in China you can taste jiaozi made from pork, beef, lamb, chicken or fish mixed with a wide variety of vegetables. They can be boiled, steamed, or pan-fried, and are served with dipping sauce. Red vinegar, soy sauce and chili sauce are among the most popular.

Want to make your own wonton now?

七月 4, 2011   No Comments

How To Steam Broccoli Without Losing The Color And Nutrition

Steamed broccoli is one of the healthiest food you can take. But sometimes, steamed broccoli just don’t look appealing when it turns into this sickly yellow color… is there anyway to keep the delightful green and the nutrients?

My Solution Is: Poach The Vegetable, Not Steaming Them!

This Is All You Need

  • A few good pieces of broccoli
  • Olive oil, salt, water
  • A regular pot

No steamer and no other fancy utensils your TV and Amway friends ask you to buy.

Let’s Start With… How To Choose A Good Piece Of Broccoli

how to pick broccoli: 3 tips

First of all, it has to look good. What I mean is, it has to look refreshingly green — if it is already yellowish there is nothing you can do about it.

I personally like the ones with small and compact flower buds. Not only that it usually means it is young and tender, broccoli with bigger buds tend to have bugs hiding in it. On a similar note, don’t be greedy and pick the biggest piece — it usually means it is the toughest.

Then, look for any traces of soggy parts, black spots and mold.

Cutting And Soaking The Broccoli

After you’ve pick your perfect piece of broccoli, you’ll have to wash it and cut it into smaller pieces. There is a chance that part of the stem is quite hard. Typically it is problem with the out-est layer of cellulose and you can keep the inner part which is still soft and tender.

It’s a good idea to soak the veggie with slightly salted water to “push” the bugs and worms out, if any. My mom said the salty water keeps the vegetable feel fresh to touch and helps retain the greenness. 10 minutes of soaking is enough or else some of the nutrients will be drained.

The Boiling

This is very simple, but you have to do it right to create your delicious dish of steamed (or poached) veggie.

how to steam broccoli: the better way

First, get your pot and bring the water to boil. Sprinkle in some salt. I would say around 1 teasp.

Then, add some oil. I use olive oil but you can use any vegetable oil you prefer.

The oil helps keep the surface of the broccoli shiny even after the boiling, and the oil can help you achieve a slightly higher boiling point, the importance of which is described below.

how to steam broccoli: the better way

You Need Hot Hot HOT Water!

Please wait until you get to the highest boiling point before throwing in the broccoli. This is a very important step to keep the veggie in its green color. Why? I am no scientist, but I would think that the high heat helps to seal in the green color and the corresponding nutrients right under the skin of the broccoli.

In order words, not only it looks better, it should be healthier too.

Then, cover the pot with a lid — it is not necessary, but it takes less time to cook, and by by covering the pot it is easier to estimate the time, as discussed below.

A question: How long should we cook the broccoli?

If you prefer a crispy bite, a minute or two is enough for the boil. The rule of thumb is that once you see the steam leaking out and that you can smell the aroma of fresh veggie, it’s time to take it out. This is one of the reasons why you want to cover the pot with a lid.

If you would like to have it softer (e.g. for young kids) then 2-3 minutes is great.

Note: Please take out and drain the broccoli before it is completely cooked, because it will “cook” itself with the heat even after they are taken out and put on a dish. The vegetable will turn yellowish if you wait until the very end.

Poached Broccoli: Even Young Kids Find It Delicious

My 2-year-old is blowing on the veggie — he can’t wait to have the first bite!

Steamed broccoli: delicious even for the kids!

七月 4, 2011   No Comments