14 Jan 2015

wonton or suigao?

Remember those bland wontons I made sometime last year? I think I have redeemed myself this week. Based on the notes I made after the first batch, I think these ones are just as good as my dad's. I was a bit more generous with the seasoning and remembered to add the oyster sauce this time! My dad reckons adding a bit more oyster sauce would better, but my mum and I agree that it is fine as is, since they both like to dip it in chilli and soy sauce later.

Whilst eating dinner last night, my mum said, "Look at these, they're not wontons, they're massive. More like suigao to me." This made me question which one were these. If I were to compare the wontons I've had in Malaysia, then mine would be "on steroids" because the ones in Malaysia are so tiny whereas mine has at least two bites (suigao sized). From the same Chowhound post, I found out both fillings differ according to regions in China too. The ones we make at home lean on the Cantonese version suigao minus the bamboo shoots - which is how my dad differentiates the two. Last time he also said that the wrapping is also the same, except for wontons, the excess skin is pinched together at the end to form a money bag shape.

If I were to be asked whether these are suigao or wontons? I'd still call them wontons because it's what we call it at home. But perhaps ours is a fusion...

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my dad's wantan (wonton)     serves a party
adapted from my dad's recipe passed down verbally

The wantan recipe below makes a lot, so if you re intending for a smaller meal, you can either choose to scale down or freeze the remaining meat for up to one month for future meal/s.

600g prawn meat (of the shelled and deveined kind)
600g pork / chicken mince
5 pieces dried shiitake mushrooms*
3 pieces dried wood ear fungus*
1 kg wonton wrappers

30g (3 level Tb) potato starch
28g (2 1/2 Tb) sesame oil
15g (2 1/2 heaped tsp) sea salt
15g (3 heaped tsp) chicken stock powder
15g (1 Tb) oyster sauce
8g (1/2 Tb) shaoxing wine
3g (1 tsp) sugar
white pepper, as little/much as you like

[The day before]
Soak shiitake mushrooms and wood ear fungus in a large bowl of cold water overnight. 

[On the day]
Squeeze water out of the shiitake mushrooms and remove the stalks (add to the chicken stock if you want). Slice thinly then finely chop. Drain water from wood ear fungus, slice thinly, then finely chop. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Slice prawns in half, then roughly chop. Add to the mushrooms.

Add mince and seasoning to the bowl and mix until everything amalgamates. This will take anywhere from 5 - 10 minutes of solid mixing with your dominate hand**. Transfer to a container and wrap until needed.

[To serve]
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.

Wrap the wantan. Don't wrap them too early in advance because the skins will start sticking to each other.

Add wantan to the boiling water. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. When they float to the top, they are almost ready. Allow 30-60 seconds more. Scoop them out with a shallow sieve. Serve with some broth or transfer to a plate/bowl.

Serve wantan with egg noodles and blanched asian greens. Ladle in hot chicken stock. Garnish with spring onions, coriander and fried shallots. Sprinkle some white pepper on top.

*The amount of mushrooms and fungus, more or less, doesn't really matter. For reference, I used 100g shiitake and 70g wood ear (after draining).

**I find it helpful to wear a food/thin plastic glove