Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Laissez Les Wonton Roulez

I have nobody but myself to blame. I had nearly all the ingredients (short the bok choy and pork sausage) on hand to make Jaden Hair's Steamy Kitchen entry, Wonton Soup, for the Whole Foods Budget Recipe Challenge. I've had the soup in my menu plans for nearly two weeks now and I just kept putting it off.

Why? I could tell by the ingredients list I would like it. My husband, too. What was the deal with this procrastination?

I finally decided wonton folding is something I feel I do reasonably well, but true confession time, I am sloooooooooow at it.

As much as I enjoy wonton noodles fried and boiled into soups I don't make the recipes featuring them very often because it takes me forever to get them ready. For. Eh. Ver. As much as I wanted to try this recipe I found excuse after excuse to keep moving it off until "tomorrow".

Wheatsville Coop called my bluff. Not only did they have the most adorable organic baby bok choy but also the very fresh locally produced Richardson pork sausage on my regular Wednesday shopping trip. That fixed that. It was time.

Knowing I would be standing at my counter for an hour laboriously stuffing and folding wonton packages of porky goodness, I saved both time and energy for the uncomplicated but slow-for-me dinner prep yesterday. We had the soup last night for dinner with the only tweak from Jaden's recipe consisting of my throwing in some bean sprouts along with the bok choy for fun.

As always when I finally do get around to making anything with wonton in it I was kicking myself for waiting so long. This recipe is solid gold. Time to fold aside it is simple and it tasted good good good.

Just in case you didn't vote or view the challenge as posted on previously, to follow is the recipe off the Whole Foods site.
Wonton Noodle Soup
This recipe was submitted by Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen. Jaden dishes up the following advice for this popular Chinese one-dish meal: "Get your kids in the kitchen and have them help you fold wontons. Freeze uncooked wontons: Freeze in one layer on plate, when frozen gather them up and store in freezer bag and plop them into boiling broth while still frozen to make a super-quick meal."

1. 1/2 pound ground pork
2. 2 stalks scallion, finely minced
3. 1 tablespoon soy sauce
4. 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
5. 1 teaspoon cornstarch
6. 1/4 teaspoon sugar
7. 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
8. 1/2 pound wonton wrappers, at room temperature, covered with a damp towel
9. 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup cool water (this makes a cornstarch slurry)
10. 2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
11. 8 ounces dried wonton noodles (or thin, egg noodles)
12. 1/2 pound bok choy, leaves separated and washed well
13. 1 teaspoon sesame oil

Serves 4. $2.98 per serving*

Note on wonton wrappers: If using frozen wrappers, defrost overnight in the refrigerator or on the counter for 40 minutes. Once thawed, keep opened wrappers under a damp paper towel. Like freshly made pasta dough, they dry out easily, especially the edges.

In a large bowl, combine the pork, scallion, soy sauce, rice vinegar, cornstarch, sugar and sesame oil. Mix well.

Put a scant teaspoon of filling in the middle of a wonton wrapper, and brush cornstarch slurry on all edges. Fold over to form a triangle, press to secure edges, encasing the filling. Brush cornstarch slurry on one tip of the triangle. Bring two corners together and press to secure (though my kids often just leave them as triangles.) Place on clean, dry plate in one layer and cover loosely with plastic wrap to prevent drying. Repeat with remaining.

In a large stockpot, add all but 2 cups of the broth and bring to a boil. The 2 cups of reserved broth should be room temperature or just slightly chilled. Turn the heat to medium-high and add the wontons. Bring pot back to a gentle boil.

When it reaches a boil, add 1 cup of the reserved broth. Bring back to a boil and again, add the remaining 1 cup of reserved broth.

Keep the heat on the pot on (you still need to cook the noodles and bok choy) while using a spider or sieve to scoop up the wontons and distribute amongst the bowls. Cook the noodles in the pot according to the package instructions. Add the bok choy to the pot during last minute of cooking noodles and let simmer, until cooked through. Ladle broth, noodles and bok choy to bowls. Serve with chili garlic sauce if desired.

Per serving (about 25oz/713g-wt.): 580 calories (170 from fat), 19g total fat, 5g saturated fat, 105mg cholesterol, 1040mg sodium, 78g total carbohydrate (4g dietary fiber, 5g sugar), 27g protein
Today we will have the leftovers. After dinner the other night I took the remaining wonton out of the broth anticipating a need for reheating. I will add in fresh bok choy, fresh bean sprouts, and a few more noodles since I scooped all of them out for our dinner bowls last night. To change it up just slightly I am also adding in some sliced organic shitake mushrooms, also from Wheatsville (thank you Bryan and Johnny!).

My husband is not a fan of eating leftovers for lunch when we just had them for dinner the night before. He doesn't absolutely refuse leftovers - don't get me wrong - but he likes to pace himself food wise and change things up. Me - I am a food faddist and can eat the same thing over (and over and over). Today we had the wonton soup for lunch and although my hub reminded me his preference is to not eat for lunch what he just had for dinner? He finished his bowl just like I did. This soup is THAT good.

Try this out. Seriously. Don't stall because you are reluctant to take on the wonton folding. No matter how long it takes? Worth it! Definitely worth it.

That hint about doing the wonton ahead and freezing them is a great idea. Also getting your children to stuff and fold the wonton for you would be a charming way to avoid that hour standing solo at your kitchen counter. Unfortunately my kids are too grown and too gone and yes, too cynical as well, to think that making wonton for Mom would be a fun way to spend an hour. If your kids are still at home and gullible, er, willing helpers? Get them involved. Have fun and get dinner prepped all at the same time.

PS - Nobody seems to have won either the Budget Recipe Challenge or the gift certificates to Whole Foods. They say "soon". As stoked as I previously was at the idea of getting free groceries from Whole Paycheck, I have to admit, now I am just happy to have this recipe in the repertoire.Jaden (who I am calling by her first name because I have emailed her at least twice which makes us practically best friends - yeah?) has a cookbook slated for release next Fall. If the Won Ton Soup recipe is an indicator, I will probably break my general rule of "no buying cookbooks as long as I have internet access" and make an exception in her case.


SteamyKitchen said...


xo, jaden

Flapjacks said...

yeah, i agree about the won ton prep. the last time i had bryan grind some fresh pork for me to make won tons, it took me forever to roll out and fold all the damn wontons.

i think i have a new strategy that involve my dinner table, some silpat, some wine and some daft punk for the ambient sense of urgency.

sitting and rolling/folding has to be better than standing... right?

look at you. you're starting a gang of food industry people.