Monday, October 3, 2016

Cooking is Cheaper than Therapy: Asian-Inspired Wrappers

Small plates of Dim Sum make me happy, and I am just as happy making them as I am eating them. It's important to note that if you plan on making these little bites, it does take some thought and preparation. I have made bites as difficult as Cha Siu Bao (Steamed barbecue pork bun) where if you want these to make an appearance for dinner, you better get the yeast dough going first thing in the morning. And I have made bites as easy as these little wrappers, where you use ready-made wonton wrappers. 


My proof I made Cha Siu Bao.
Maybe some day I will share the recipe. 
So what exactly is Dim Sum?  It's really a style of Chinese cuisine (particularly Cantonese) prepared as small bite-sized portions of food served in small steamer baskets or on small plates. Think Spanish Tapas or English High Tea, and especially English High Tea as you will want to get the tea kettle going for a pot of oolong to enjoy with Dim Sum. 

All of these ingredients can be found at your local supermarket, so you really don't have to seek out an Asian Market, but if there is one close by, then why not? Wonton wrappers can be found usually in the refrigerated section in the produce aisle. The filling I use is ground turkey - not ground turkey breast. I found turkey breast is a bit too light and doesn't quite have the texture needed as the mixture of ground dark and white meat turkey. If you insist, you can also use ground pork - - not sausage - - plain ground pork. The herbs in prepared sausage interferes with the Asian spices. I also think the ground pork can be a bit too greasy. Ground turkey is perfect. 

Now remember, I am somewhat a scratch cook, so you can add more or less of some of the spices, such as the garlic, red pepper flakes, and the Chinese Five Spice. Not sure? Take a tablespoon of the filling and steam or microwave until done. Cool, and sample. Add spices to taste. Also, I have made the filling the night or morning before I plan to assemble and steam the wrappers. Might I also recommend this filling to make little meat balls cooked in a spicy Asian-influenced broth for a steamy bowl of soup or pho. 



Ingredients:

12 - 16 oz (pound) ground turkey
2 green onions, minced
2 Tbsp. of soy sauce
1/2 - 1 tsp minced garlic
Sprinkle of red pepper flakes to taste
Sprinkle of Chinese Five Spice to taste. 
1 pkg Wonton Wrappers (about 24)  

In a bowl, combine the ground turkey, green onions, soy sauce, garlic, red pepper flakes, and Five Spice. On a clean surface, place about 4-6 wonton wrappers and brush water around the edges. A cup of cold water comes in handy to keep the working fingers wet. Place in the center of each wonton 1 tablespoon of the filling. Bring two corners of the wonton together as if you are making a triangle. Bring in the other corners, gather, bunch, and lightly twist. This is the best way I know how to describe the technique. Seriously? They do not have to be perfect. If you find a better way to close, by all means - - do it.  Repeat with remaining wrappers until all of the filling has been used. 



Place these little purses of goodness in a pot on a collapsible metal steam rack. You know the kind of little metal steaming rack I am talking about. We use to buy them at import shops for 99 cents. I've had the same one since 1975, use it often, and it still looks shiny as can be - great investment. You may also use a multi-tray bamboo steamer so you can cook all the wrappers at one time. Fill the metal steamer pot with 1/2 - 1 inch of water (don't let water touch bottom of metal steamer) and bring water to boil, and then to simmer. Spray the metal steam rack with a non-stick spray (very important and spray with every batch). Working in batches, arrange 5-6 wrappers on rack about 1-inch apart. Cover pot with the appropriate lid, and steam wrappers until cooked - about 8 minutes per batch. Check the water level with each new batch. 



Transfer wrappers to a platter and serve with a variety of sauces for dipping. Keep it simple with soy sauce, or make or use your favorite jar of Asian-style sauces such as teriyaki, chili oil, hot mustard sauce, and even plum sauce. 


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