Boxing Day Batch Wonton

A traditional boxing day activity for us at home is making a big batch of won ton – some to eat that day whilst all the family are still around, and some for the freezer to munch on another time. They’re a bit of a faff to make if you only doing a few at a time as the pastry wrappers come in packets of about 30 or so. They freeze very well, and most of all my mother takes great pride in packing a box of them in a cool bag for us to take back home after Christmas, to share with other friends or loved ones.

Mum: “Does Tom like my won ton?”
Me: “Yes mum”
Mum: “Does he really like them, or are you just saying?”
Me: “Yes mum, he does like them”
(Mum: Grins)
Mum: “How many does he have?”
Me: “Depends how hungry he is mum”
Mum: “Ah…does he prefer these won ton or the won ton I made last time?”
Me: “I don’t really know mum…he doesn’t talk about your won ton that much”
Mum: “Huhh?…I think he likes these won ton better”
Me: “Ok mum”

Batch Wonton

Won ton batch ready to go…

You can find a recipe for the won ton dumpling mix here.

A couple of tips for freezing them…
– dust a little cornflour on a tray and place each made dumpling on the tray, making sure they are not touching each other too much. Once you have a full complete layer of dumplings, loosely cover with cling film.
– you can then add another layer or two (I’d suggest no more than 3 in total), with a layer of cling film between each one.  Then freeze them overnight – once frozen, you’ll be able to put them in a tuppaware box, or portion 4-6 (depending on how hungry you are!) in sandwich bags, ready for your next meal.
– don’t be tempted to put them all in a tuppaware box or bag straight away and freeze them all in one go as they’ll stick together.  You’ll never be able to separate them and all your hard work will be wasted! (& Tom won’t get his dumplings).
– to cook from frozen, plunge several into boiling broth or stock for 8-10 minutes, depending on size. No need to defrost before cooking. Add some noodles in the last few minutes of cooking if you like as well as some chinese greens and a sprinkling of spring onions to serve.

Batch of Won Ton Dumplings

Dumpling Heaven

New addiction alert: Smoked Bacon & Scallop Sandwich

Bacon and Scallops have always been good friends, a tried and tested combination I’m sure many of you have tried before.  Only this time, try it in a sandwich. Salty, smoky, chewy bacon meets sweet, succulent scallop, wedged in doorstep slices of the softest white loaf.  This will make you raise your eyebrows I’m sure – that was my reaction when I first heard of it. But trust me, it’s good.  Better than good.  It’s ‘Up There’ with the All Time Top Weekend Breakfasts.

Don’t mess around with crap bacon for this. It’s got to be good quality and thick cut. I had some of my favourite smoked molasses bacon from Brixton Village Market, and some very fine hand dived scallops from Moxon’s Fishmonger, roe still intact.

The choice of bread is also important – you want a super soft white loaf – cut thick enough to hold everything in place as you munch away.  After frying the bacon, I quickly seared the scallops and roe in the same pan, adding a little butter.  Once cooked I let the scallops rest, and wiped the pan clean with one slice of the sandwich bread before assembling the tastiest sandwich ever. Enough said.

Fiery BBQ Pork Ribs with Holy Fuck Sauce

With London weather as good as this, it seems a sin to cook in the kitchen instead of firing up the BBQ nestled in my uber small garden. I feel for the neighbours upstairs as they slam their windows shut to stop the smoke from billowing in, but I just can’t help myself. The unmistakable taste of charred meat on raw flame is too big a temptation to resist.

Last nights offering was slow cooked Pork Ribs, basted in the deliciously fiery but flavoursome Holy F@*k sauce. Not for the faint hearted, these ribs will leave you tingling for hours.

For those of you not already acquainted with Holy F@*k Sauce, this kick ass hot sauce is the creation of The Rib Man – a street food god hailed as serving up some of the best ribs and rib rolls in London.  The sauce is made with Scotch Bonnet and Naga Bhut Jolokia chills – the hottest in the world….reach for the milk!

The Rib Man has gained himself a bit of a cult following of late, and his special brew sauce is being put to the test in all manner of dishes, from French Toast to Burgers to Pizza. My tribute to the cause are these ribs – slow cooked in the oven with a few aromatics for a couple of hours and then smothered in the fiery sauce before finishing on the flame.

This is the way to do ribs – they were MEAN – meat falling off the bone, with a charred, sticky, fiery hot coating. The perfect distraction for all this summer sunshine if there ever was one.

Simply done – I cooked the whole rib in the oven on a low temperature for 2 hours – with 1 roughly chopped leak underneath, 8 peppercorns, 5 cloves, a couple of star anise and a good glug of water (covered tightly in foil).

Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little, then pour any of the baking tray juices into a saucepan and reduce until you have thicker syrupy sauce.  Add some Holy Fuck Sauce (how much is up to your discretion) and a squeeze of ketchup and cook out for a further minute or so.  Baste the ribs generously, and place on the BBQ. Turn the ribs and rebaste every couple of minutes to guarantee a deliciously sticky and charred rib.  My only advice is to do more than you think as they’ll be gone before you know it!

Wonton Dumplings (Sui Kow)

Sui Kow is a type of Chinese Dumpling, typically filled with minced pork, prawns or shrimp and some form of vegetable for additional flavour and crunch.  Here I added water chestnuts, bamboo and chinese chives, but they’re also great with chinese cabbage (pickled or fresh), dried shitake mushrooms and black fungus. They’re delicious on their own in a vegetable or chicken broth, or with fine egg noodles for a heartier meal.

Feel free to play around with the quantities of pork to prawn and balance of vegetables according to taste. You can substitute the vegetables I’ve used with carrot, green beans or even peas.  It’s one of those recipes you can be inventive with – the important thing is to achieve a bit of variation in texture and taste.

They take a bit of time but are easy to do with a little practice.  I use ready made wonton skins, best fresh rather than frozen if you can get hold of them (from chinese supermarkets) as the skin is a bit more elastic and less prone to tearing. They freeze well, so I always make a batch ready to take from the freezer and add to a simmering soup broth as the urge takes me.  No need to defrost before using.

Sui Kow DumplingsIngredients
200g lean, good quality minced pork (makes about 30 dumplings)
80g raw prawns, roughly chopped
25g water chestnuts, finely cubed
20g bamboo, finely cubed
3 tbsp chives, finely chopped
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp shaoxing rice wine
1 tsp cornflour
1/2 egg white (small egg)
pinch white pepper
30 dumpling skins
 

Method
Remove the veins from the raw prawns first by running a knife on the top side of the prawn and pulling out the dark intestinal tract.  It helps if you have a bowl of water on the side so you can dip in your fingers as you go – the vein has a habit of clinging to your fingers!  Roughly chop the prawns, keeping some larger chunks for texture. Add the prawns to a bowl with the minced pork, water chestnuts, chives and bamboo and roughly mix.  Then add all the other ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Get ready to make the dumplings – have a finger bowl of cold water on the side and lightly dust a chopping board or tray with cornflour (this is to place the dumplings on once made – the cornflour will stop them from sticking).

Take a wonton skin and place on your palm.  Add a teaspoon of the mix to the centre of the skin, being careful not to over fill.

1. Making Dumplings

With your other hand, dab the edge of the skin with a little water to help the edges stick together. Then fold over one side to make a triangle, pressing lightly at the edge to seal the dumpling and squeeze out any excess air.

2. Making Dumplings

The next bit is more fiddly and takes a little practice – using your fore fingers and thumbs, crimp and pinch together the edge to make little folds.  Work inwards from the outer edge.

3. Making Dumplings

The skins are quite forgiving but if you happen to tear one just empty out the filling and start again with a fresh skin. Once crimped all the way to the other edge, place on the dusted tray…and keep going till all the mix is gone.

If you want to want to cook them straight away, you can plunge into simmering soup broth for about 6-8 minutes, or steam in a bamboo steamer for about 8 minutes (place a slice of carrot or cucumber under each dumpling to stop them from sticking).

To cook from frozen, they’ll take 10-12 minutes to boil, or 12-14 to steam (depending on size).

To freeze them, I put the whole tray of dumplings into the freezer for a couple of hours. Once they have hardened, I then place them in a tuppaware box or freezer bag.  If you put them straight into a tuppaware box or bag when soft, they’ll stick together and deform and will be tricky to separate when you just want to grab a few.

Serve alone in a soup or with fine egg noodles, add some chinese leaf in the final minute of cooking and sprinkle liberally with spring onions and a few drops of sesame oil.

Delicious!

BBQ Chicken Yakitori Skewers

Copius amounts of sunshine, a BBQ and a few of delicious recipes from Reiko Hashimoto’s ‘Hashi Cooking – A Japanese Cookery Course’ make for a good evening.  I’m delighted with the results of my first BBQ this year.

These Chicken Skewers are seriously good on the BBQ – the Teriyaki marinade takes on a lovely charred flavour with the chicken thigh meat staying gloriously succulent and moist. I made mine substantially bigger than the delicate nibbles in Reiko’s book so they could take a bit more of a hit on the BBQ without overcooking.  The key to a gloriously sticky skewer is to keep turning and basting, a few minutes at a time.  I served this with a Prawn, Wakame and Cucumber Salad and Japanese Coleslaw (recipe links below).

BBQ Chicken Yakitori Skewers

Ingredients

600g Chicken thigh (boneless and skinless), cut into 1-2 inch pieces
2 Courgettes, sliced (or 5 Baby Leeks and 1 Red Pepper in Reiko’s recipe)
Bamboo Skewers (12-16 for Small Skewers or 5-6 for Large Skewers)
Seven Spice Red Chili or Sansyo Pepper (for dipping)
 
For the Teriyaki Sauce
200ml Soy Sauce
100ml Sake
100ml Mirin
3-4 tablespoons sugar
 
Method

To make the teriyaki sauce, mix all the ingredients in a small sauce pan and simmer on lowest heat for about 20-30 minutes until you are left with a sauce thick enough to baste with.

Allow the sauce to cool, loosen with a little water and marinade the chicken for a day if possible, or at least 2-3 hrs.

Soak the skewers in water for 5 minutes to prevent them from burning on the BBQ.  Skewer the chicken pieces, alternating with a slice of courgette (or baby leeks and red pepper as per Reiko’s recipe) and lay on a tray.  I continued to baste these with left over marinade whilst the BBQ was getting ready.

Cook the skewers on the BBQ, basting and turning every few minutes.  These large skewers took about 15 minutes to cook.

To serve I sprinkled with a few Toasted Sesame seeds.

Devine!!