Ah, the glorious fried wonton. Isn’t she a beaut?
When my family throws a big party, 9 times out of 10, fried wontons line the buffet table, perched over one another like golden gems, housed inside coffers of aluminum. It’s an impressive spread for sure but even more extraordinary is the speed in which we finish it. Flanked by ice cold beer and good company, we nibble and gorge our way through with unbridled fervor. And this is just the first course.
For as long as I can remember, it was always my dad or my grandpa making these, sitting at the dining table, chopstick in one hand and wonton in the other. It looked like a lot of work but they made it look so fluid and simple. I don’t know why I never took part in these events. Maybe it was my pager to blame. Pager-ography translation was no easy task must I remind you and it required my full attention. For instance, do you recall how to interpret this: 533 4011 127312
Brownie sticks if you do.
Yesterday I pretended like I knew what I was doing and made these fried wontons. Turns out they’re remarkably uncomplicated to fashion and only require mild hand agility. Translation: If I can do it, you can do it.
Fried wontons, stuffed with shrimp and pork
This was my first attempt at making wontons and I grew pleasantly surprised at how simple they were to prepare. Once you get the hang of folding them, the process moves along faster. For the filling, I used the traditional mix of flavors from my dad’s recipe but I’m looking forward to experimenting with different combinations. I’m thinking mushrooms + cheese, chorizo +peppers, or a vegetable one with zucchini and carrot strands. The thing with the filling though too, a scant teaspoon is all you need. Otherwise, the filling won’t cook properly before the shell has turned golden.
Makes 1 1/2 baking sheets worth, about 70 wontons
1 pound ground pork
1/2 pound raw shrimp, shelled and minced finely
2 tablespoons minced green onions, light green part only
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 package thin wonton sheets (I use the pale yellow Hong Kong style variety)
Small bowl of tap water for sealing edges
Vegetable oil, for frying
Nanami togarashi Japanese spice blend, optional
Sweet chili sauce, for dipping fried wontons (Mae Ploy makes a good one without any preservatives or dyes)
Grab a medium-sized bowl and plop in the ground pork and minced shrimp. Toss in the green onions, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, salt and pepper. Use the tines of a fork to really mash this all together extremely well. You want this to look like a paste, saturated and for lack of a better word: tacky. Set this aside and prepare your station. You might want to sit down for this.
Get your bowl of water, you don’t need much. Find a chopstick if you have one, or use the end of a spoon, fork, blunt knife. Grab a small working surface, like a cutting board. Also, grab 2 baking sheets — these are for holding your wontons as you go along. Get your bowl of filling and wonton wrappers.
It’s wrapping time! Here’s how to do it:
Did you do it? Horray! I’m so proud of you.
Next, you’ll want to usher your trays of pretty wontons over to the fry station. Get a medium-sized pot and fill it about 1/3 of the way with vegetable oil. Crank up the heat and let the temp of the oil get to 350 degrees. Use a thermometer, super helpful in the kitchen. Put a large paper towel-lined platter near you for the fried wontons. Using a slotted spoon, gently lower the wontons into the hot oil to fry. I did 5 wontons per batch to keep the oil temp from dropping. Fry until golden brown, flipping them around a few times to brown everywhere, about 3 minutes. These little suckers can be stubborn though and will want to only float on one side, but be persuasive and flip them anyway until they concede. Fetch and plop them onto the plate to drain. Repeat with rest of wontons.
When they’re all done, sprinkle liberally with nanami togarashi, if desired. This spice blend, full of chili pepper, orange peel and seaweed sticks to the crispy wonton skin like a barnacle and offers tons of piquant flavor. Serve fried wontons fresh and hot with plenty of sweet chili sauce for dipping. These go fast so as the cook, make sure you snag a couple as you fry before the guests devour them all. #justatip
Cheat code: 533 4011 127312 = See You Later