Saturday, 15 March 2014

High-Rise Steam-House

"Wonton" di Pollo e Verdure al Vapore
Steamed Chicken & Vegetable Wontons

Finally, after many years of steaming my food in one of those collapsible metal steam-racks- the type that look like a 1950's satellite, I got around to buying myself a stackable, bamboo steamer- hurrah! Now, this doesn't mean I am going to abandon "old sputnik" just yet... but my new, stackable, bamboo buddies just let me do so much more!

Well, of course I had to try them out this evening! I had bought new "Wonton" wrappers as I had the feeling that the ones I had in the freezer were almost gone- so it was a case of "out with the old- in with the new" when I got home. The question was- what to do with 20 wonton wrappers? And the answer was this...

As usual, I am going to preach again about just how small an amount of ingredients you often need to make something awesome- again with this dish. Ok- it was only a yield of 18 wontons- but would you have thought you could make that many from just 1 chicken breast, ahalf each of a carrot and a zucchini, a  mini bell pepper, a chunk of ginger and a couple of Spring onions? 

I decided to add a few sugar-snap peas for a little fresh and crispy crunch and of course, some yummy cilantro as a tasty garnish... and the best thing is, the whole thing only took a half an hour or so to make! 

I started off by finely chopping the chicken- you can use a grinder or blender to do this if you like... I just enjoy doing it by hand! 

Next, I carried on chopping away and cut the pepper, the carrot and the zucchini into "Julienne", the onion into fine slices and the ginger into a very fine dice. Again- use a machine if you prefer- but unless you are preparing enough of these for 10 people or so, I would say, "where's the fun in that?", haha! I guess I am kinda funny that way!

Put all of the ingredients for the filling into a bowl, season with 5-Spice powder, oyster sauce, soy sauce and a little Szechuan pepper and mix and mash everything together using your hands- this is definitely the best way to get everything nicely combined together- and again- I really love doing this part by hand!

Once everything is nicely mix- it's time to start having fun wrapping! The important thing is to not over-fill the wontons, otherwise they will split open and that's no fun. Probably the best way to make sure you get the wontons nice and similar, is to spread out the filling onto the wrappers before you start sealing them, as you can see in the picture below- it is easier if you can see them next to each other and you can always adjust if one has more filling than another. 

There are many, many wonderful and decorative ways to seal the wontons, but I just chose to make them very plain and easy. I moistened the outer edges with a little water, just using my finger, then folded them over once so that the wrappers overlapped. I then moistened the ends again and folded them over like an envelope... I figured it would be better to do something simple and be safe rather than sorry!

Once I had folded all of the wontons shut, I lightly oiled the bases of the steamer and laid them out with the peas, which as well as steaming and serving as an accompaniment to the wontons, would also help keep them from sticking. I made sure than none of them was touching another, as that would also stick, then set them on top of a saucepan with boiling water, popped on the lid and let them steam for around 15 minutes. 

I was a little concerned about the chicken being well-done enough, so after 6-7 minutes, I swapped the bottom layer with the top one, just to make sure that both sat directly above the steam at its most concentrated for an equal amount of time.

After 15 minutes, the wontons were soft and wrinkly and juicy and ready! They smelled wonderful and looked lovely and colorful too... well, at least they did after the steam had cleared! And they were very, very hot of course!

To be honest, mine did stick a little to the peas, which is not a big problem, but if you want to avoid that, then I would recommend that you drizzle the peas with sesame oil which will also just go to make them taste even more delicious!

I enjoyed mine piping hot with a little extra soy sauce for dipping- and had I have had any at home, of course the sweet Thai chili/garlic sauce that is just made for chicken would have been wonderful- or a squeeze of hot and tangy Sriracha sauce- everyones favorite!

The main thing for me was that I had played with my new kitchen toys- haha! Who knows what I will cook in them next?

Of course, should you not have a steamer at home or are not a great fan of soft wontons, you can always deep-fry these and crisp them up just as well- or even bake them in the oven if you oil them and the oven tray well, as that wonton pastry does get rather sticky when it is moist and is delicate and tends to tear. But whichever way you decide to actually cook them, I would recommend these yummy little wraps as their flavor is an absolutely safe bet- after all- with all of those good things in there- what's not to like? Enjoy!

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