Thursday, April 26, 2012

Family Recipe Friday - Wontons

My mother was the General Manager at the local Holiday Inn when I was little and as such she had a restaurant to oversee. I fondly remember helping dye Easter eggs for the restaurant when I was little. Talk about a kid's dream! Hundreds upon hundreds of eggs that needed dying and me and my sisters to do it.

I remember the summers when my mom was at work and we would call the number for the "Time and Temperature" repeatedly because we weren't allowed to swim unless it was 80 degrees outside.  Then we'd call my mom at work and ask for her to come and get us so we could go to the pool.

I remember the arcade that was in the hallway of the main building with the candy vending machine that we would always bug our mom for money for, and the Ms PacMan game that we would all play (and my sister, Aimee, would kick everyone's butts at....including the adults!)

While I have those memories one of the things that I remember so fondly (but didn't know it was even connected to my mom's time at the Holiday Inn) were her wontons.  Yummy, yummy, wontons!

My mother taught me how to make these wontons when I was a teenager.  It was after I went to live with her so that would be sometime in the Fall of 1989 or later.  I asked her how she learned to make wontons and she told me that she was taught during her time at the Holiday Inn.

These little hors d'eouvres are very addictive and are great hot or cold (I love them cold, personally). My mother used to get the powdered chinese mustard, mix up some of it and dip them in, but you can use regular mustard, you just won't get the spicy kick.

Normally, I follow recipes by precise measurements.  That's more of a baker's habit and I know that in cooking you need to be able to estimate.  I'm not really the best estimator and I still like my measurements, but I'm getting better at simply cooking from memory.  This recipe has some estimations, and some of them are quite odd, but you'll get the hang of it quick enough.


1 lb ground pork
1 egg
8 scallions, chopped
Soy sauce
1 pkg wonton wrappers

In a bowl add the ground pork, egg, and scallions.  Generously shake soy sauce over the ingredients in the bowl.  When the ingredients look lightly coated, mix it all together with your hands.  Now here's the odd part...smell the mixture...if it has a pretty good soy sauce smell, you've put in enough.  Otherwise, add more and mix again.

Put some water in a small bowl and place your wonton wrappers on a small plate.  Grab a wrapper and place it on your plate so it looks like diamond (not a square) then place a small amount of the meat mixture (it's about 1/3 of a teaspoon...the kind you use for coffee, not for measuring) in the center of the wrapper.  Dip your finger in the water and wet the top left and right corners of the wrapper.  Bring the bottom half of the diamond over the meat and seal the edges by pressing down.  Wet the bottom corner of the wonton and wrap both bottom edges around your finger, pressing to seal.  Fold down the tip of the top of the wonton and then place on a dish (my explanation is rubbish so check out the pictures and video below).

Heat canola oil in a large pan.  Deep fry the wontons until golden brown, attempting to turn once during the cooking.  Wontons will float a few seconds after placing them in the oil.  If they don't use a slotted metal spoon or tongs to dislodge them from the bottom of the pan so they don't burn.  Once they are golden, remove to a plate or bowl with paper towels to drain.

OK, now I said, "attempting to turn once" and there's a reason.  If there's any air in your wonton when you wrapped it, you're not going to be able to turn it.  It'll just flop back over.  Don't worry though.  The wontons will still cook, they just won't look as pretty.  I've been making these for over 20 years and I still get wontons in every batch that have air in them.

I don't really know what the temperature of the oil is when I deep fry the wontons.  I heat the oil over medium-high heat and I wet my hand and flick a drop of water in the pan [gasp].  I do stand back when I do it (and all throughout the deep frying), but this was how my mom taught me to tell if the oil was hot enough.

Also, if you put too much meat in the wonton it will bust open when you try to fold it.  It still happens to me, I just squeeze the meat mixture out back into the bowl and start with another wrapper.  Wonton wrappers will dry out so don't let them sit out until you're ready to use them!

It all sounds complicated, but it really isn't and they are so yummy!  Whenever I make them for a party they disappear FAST.

Good luck trying them and if you have any questions don't hesitate to ask!