Fried Shrimp Wontons
I've been meaning to put up a whole lot of cooking threads, and every time I think about it I'm already halfway through cooking. This time, however, I remembered before I got started and documented the whole procedure in PHOTOGRAPHIC MAGIC IMAGING ART(!) It's long, but my idea here was not just to give you a recipe, but maybe teach young cooks out there a thing or two about what they're doing in the kitchen.
A little back story before I start, though. I'm a college student with very little money. I aim, in the future, to offer up plenty of low-cost, high-value meals and baked goods for other starving college goons in threads like this one. However, I'm home now, and I get to splurge once in a while since I have no other expenses. This night I ordered up some sushi, cracked open a Heineken, turned on a Lifetime TV movie about pre-pubescent homicide, and settled in to make:
- One small can of Water Chestnuts. You will need about 3/8 of a cup.
- 2-3 stalks of scallions.
- A chunk of ginger. Enough to make 1.5 Tbsp. completely minced if you're the measuring type.
- 0.75 pounds of peeled, de-veined, and washed shrimp, diced fine
- 1 Tbsp. Corn Starch, with enough water to liquefy it (don't add h20 until the last moment)
- 3 Tbsp. Soy sauce
- 0.75 Tsp. Toasted Sesame Seed Oil
- 0.75 Tsp. Chili Oil
- 1 Tsp. Granulated Sugar
- Square wonton wrappers, fresh as you can get. Ok, so these arent from scratch, but I'm not going to be arsed to make these from scratch when they're perfctly good from the store.
- And THREE bowls (cereal sized)
You will also need enough oil to fill your fryer, or 1-2 inches worth in a high-walled skillet or dutch oven pot. If you don't want to fry it, there are other ways to cook them, so fret not. I'll go over a few ways later.
Mince the water chestnuts. They should be very fine. You will need about 3/8 cups if you're the measuring type, but I tend to eyeball it now. The correct amount usually winds up being about half a small can. Put the minced water chestnut in one of your bowls. Let's call it bowl #1
Next you will need about 3 table spoons of minced scallion (green onion). Again, I rarely measure it, but it winds up being 2-3 stalks of plant. Make sure you wash it first! Put this in a different bowl from the water chestnut, bowl #2.
Ginger. Be careful with this stuff; it's super potent. You buy it by the "hand". It should have nice even color with no spots. Dirt is OK (it also means it's probably fresh).
I couldn't get pics of myself doing this, but the best way to peel this stuff is to hold it in the palm of your hand and scrape over it with a spoon, concave face towards you. If you do it correctly, the spoon will scrape off the skin and leave the flesh of the ginger root clean and unharmed. Make sure you smell the ginger. GOOD ginger will smell fresh and clean. It sounds corny, but it smells kind of like springtime.
You will need 1.5 Tbsp. of this, fully minced. Put it in the bowl with the green onions.
Shrimp... This is very important. Always buy fresh, and always ask to smell it before you buy it. You should do this with any seafood, unless you're confident it's from a reputable reseller. It should smell clean, and not like fish. That pudgy Emeril bastard says it should smell like the sea. I would partially agree, but I think the best way to explain it is it just smells fresh.
Anyway, pop the tails off, make sure the shrimp poop is gone, and wash them. Pat them dry. Dice these to a fine dice so you have no pieces larger than about 7 millimeters. It feels really gross, and looks a little more gross, but what the hell, it's top notch stuff. Put these in bowl #1 with the water chestnuts.
Next, in your third bowl, which can be smaller, you will mix your sauce up. Take the soy sauce, and the sesame and chili oils, and put them in the bowl (bowl #3, if you're keeping track). Add the sugar to this, and mix to the best of your ability. Since oil and water don't mix, very little will happen, but the sugar helps combine them a bit.
From here on out you will be moving fairly fast. All of your pieces are very small, and they will cook very fast. You MUST pay attention or your stuffing will be ruined.
On a medium flame, heat up a non-stick skillet. Once it's hot, pour some canola oil in the pan. You'll need about 1 Tbsp. worth, but this is one of those things you feel after you get the hang of it. I forgot to take a picture of this next part, but luckily you need only to rely on your nose. You will dump the onions and ginger (bowl #2) into the skillet, and keep it moving over a medium heat until you can smell the fragrance of the scallion and ginger mixing. The scallions will begin to wilt, but other than that you need to trust your sense of smell.
This next part is very important. We will be parcooking the shrimp. This means we're going to PARtially cook the shrimp. It will be done on the outside, and slightly unfinished on the inside. This is so that it will finish cooking when you cook the wonton.
Dump bowl #1 into the skillet, with everything else still in it from before. Keep it stirring, and move it quickly.
When all of the shrimp has JUST turned pink, quickly dump in the sauce mixture, mix it in very well, and take the skillet off the heat. Then mix enough water into your corn starch - which you intelligently set aside so you'd be ready - to completely liquefy it. Pour this into your skillet and mix it in fast. If you take too long to stir it in it will get clumpy and gooey. This is when you need to pour in the sauce:
And this is after it's all done:
Put it in a bowl like I did. That's it for a while. Relax - let the mixture cool enough to handle because the next part is very hands-on.
If you have a fryer, set it to 375 degrees F (190 C) and allow it to pre-heat. If you want to deep fry this in a pot, heat your oil in a heavy-bottomed dutch oven. You will need a candy/oil thermometer, and you will need to make sure it doesn't get too hot or too cold. This method is pretty dangerous if you don't know what you're doing, and I don't suggest it if you've never done it before. Plenty of people have burned their houses down with frying fuckups. Buy a proper fryer, or do it one of the ways I will talk about it at the end of this post. Besides, keeping an eye on your oil temperature is a pain in the ass.
Here's my work horse. It's not that expensive, and they're great for making fries, onion rings, and coming up with new ideas for frying shit, like peppers (or twinkies, you fatty).
Crack a beer. This upcoming part is nice to get a bunch of friends or family to help you out with. Lots of work, but it's relaxing (especially with beer). This is me feeding beer to our sink frog
Whip out those wonton wrappers
Make sure your filling is cool enough to handle. Get all of your stuff close, with a plate to work on and a small dish of water. You will also need a plate with wet paper towels on the bottom, and another bunch of wet paper towels to cover the wontons as you make them. They will get rubbery if you don't do this. You're about to learn how to fold a wonton
Make sure your hands are clean and dry. Likewise for the plate. Place a single wrapper on your plate
Place a small spoonful of the filling in the center, and wet two adjacent sides like the picture:
Making sure to keep your hands clean and dry, fold it in a triangle. The wrappers aren't perfectly square, so you won't get a perfect triangle, but you come close enough. Once you have it in a rough triangle, pick it up and handle it. Careful so as not to pop it, you need to seal the sides up while forcing as much air out as you can. You will likely tear a few and ruin some wontons before you get the hang of it, but you will get something like this:
Next, fold one "wing" over, put a dab of water on it, and fold the other wing on top of it. You'll get something like this:
Place this in your plate, and cover the wontons as you make them. This is important, since they turn to erasers if you let the wrappers dry out. Also, be sure to not stack them up, since they stick to each other once they're wet.
I fry 5-6 at a time. They expand, so I would suggest not doing more than that unless your vessel can hold them.
When you fry them, they should give out lots of bubbles. This is from the water in the wontons vaporizing and bubbling out. This forms a wall of water vapor that keeps the fat from penetrating the food. When the bubbling stops, you run the risk of getting tons of grease in your food. This is one of the reasons you need to make sure everything stays tight, sealed, and clean.
When they're lightly browned all over, take them out and drain them. The best way to do that is to put them on paper shopping bags to wick away the grease.
That's it! Once they're drained and cool enough to eat, you can do just that. As for me, I piled it on a plate with my sushi, grabbed a beer, and sat outside in the backyard. It's a lot of work, but it's worth it. This recipe makes about 25 wontons, so you'll have plenty to eat as a meal, or freeze them and eat them later.
Now, for those who don't want to deep fry: You can steam these by supporting perforated tin in a covered pot with 1-2" of simmering water. I never steam mine, so I couldn't tell you when they would be officially done. Usually they use rice paper for steaming things.
You can make pot stickers, though, by lightly coating the pan with canola oil and allowing them to cook over a hot flame until they're slightly sticking to the bottom of the pan. Obviously, if you have a non-stick pan, they won't stick very well. Once they stick, you will need to quickly dump in a cup or so of chicken stock and cover the pan immediately. The stock will steam the wonton, and help unstick it from the bottom of the pan. Once the stock evaporates, you can let them sit for a little while to crisp up again.
Last but not least, you can pan fry them by coating a hot pan in oil and allowing the wontons to cook on all sides until evenly browned. It's simple, and gives a pretty close approximation to deep frying.
Well, I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope I made it easy to follow. It took me about 2 hours to write all this shit, so I may have unknowingly skipped something.