China Sidewonton soup

Wonton Soup
(Serves 6)

This traditional Chinese soup is a little time-consuming but surprisingly easy. You can even make the little wontons ahead of time and freeze them.

2 dried mushrooms
1 C hot water
1/2 lb. ground pork
1 1/2 tsp. fresh ginger (grated)
l lg. clove garlic (crushed)
1 T soy sauce
1 T oyster sauce (see sidebar)
1 tsp. rice wine or dry sherry
2 scallions (finely chopped)
1/2 lb. Wonton wrappers
8 C chicken broth
4 scallions (chopped)
2 tsp. dark sesame oil

Filling: soak mushrooms 15-30 minutes in hot water till soft. Drain and finely chop. Combine with next 7 ingredients (up to wrappers), mixing well. 

Wontons: Position a wonton wrapper in front of you diagonally, like a diamond, with the lower corner pointing toward you. Place 1 tsp. of pork mix right below the center of the wonton, fold up the bottom corner over the filling to within 1/2" of the top corner. Tuck the lower point in behind the filling to secure it. Next bring the left and right corners together, wet with a little water, and pinch them shut. *

Soup: bring 8 C chicken broth to a boil with scallions. Add the wontons, cooking for 4-5 minutes. Just before serving, add the sesame oil, pouring over the wontons and ladle into a tureen or individual bowls.

* You can wrap and freeze wontons at this point. No need to thaw before adding them to the boiling broth.

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Tips & Glossary

Many ingredients used in Chinese cooking probably aren’t in your spice shelf, but you can find them at Asian grocery stores. To avoid frustration, make a list of the items before trying recipes.

Agar Agar: dried seaweed used as a gelatin. Buy it in sticks (or strips) and soak in cold water to soften.

Chili Oil: buy it or make your own. For a recipe, see Hunan Chicken.

Chinese Cabbage: aka “Nappa”;long, white stalks with light green crinkly leaves.

Deep Frying: use a deep-fry thermometer to reach the recipe's correct temperature; if the oil isn't hot enough, the food will be soggy. When cool, the oil can be strained, refrigerated, and re-used.

Dried Shrimp: tiny, salted, sun-dried shrimp that add a pungent flavor to Asian cooking. Soak before using.

Five-Spice Powder: blend of star anise, cinamon, cloves, fennel and Szechuan peppercorns. Like allspice.

Peppersalt: buy or make your own. Heat 2 T Szechuan peppercorns in skillet 5 min. Grind into powder and mix with 2 T salt.

Sauces: Hoisin (sweet, from soybeans); Oyster (like soy, from oysters); Sweet Bean (canned, salty, from soybeans); Hot Bean (hot & salty, from soybeans and peppers).

Sesame Paste: from gound sesame seeds; substitute with peanut butter.

Sweet Rice Powder: from glutinous rice; used in place of flour in many desserts.

Szechuan peppercorns: dried reddish berries, fragrant and mildly hot.


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