We’ve been wanting to expand our horizons when it comes to Asian food.  Sure we’re pretty good at stir fries, summer rolls, pho and sushi, but we know there is a lot more out there.

The other day we turned to my Vegetarian cookbook by Mark Bittman and decided to try the wonton soup and fried noodle cake.  Being newbies to wonton wrappers, we were quite excited.

At this point I must share my frustration with Mark Bittman’s cookbooks.  Don’t get me wrong, they are full of wonderful ideas and I love turning the pages and reading through for inspiration.  I have zero regrets that I got the book.

However, he isn’t very good at putting whole recipes together.  I am not sure if the recipes didn’t get tested or what.  More often than not I find I need to change them and, when I don’t, I am left feeling like something was missing.  I also think he leaves out some of the finer details.  I’ve come to see his book more like a list of ideas rather than a compilation of tried and tested recipes.

Enter the wonton soup.  In his recipe, wonton wrappers were meant to be filled with pureed silken tofu with scallions, ginger and sesame oil.  This mixture proved to be almost a liquid, which made the wrappers soggy and extremely fragile.  We then tried to cook them in a not-very-flavorful broth and ended up with cooked mush.  I could see the potential in the recipe though and I thought I knew where things went wrong.

The other night, armed with the remaining wonton wrappers, I tried to get a good wonton on my own.  This recipe came about, but I’ll admit it is a work in progress.  I’d be really happy for some thoughts, so people with ideas or experience, please pipe up.  It isn’t a soup, but rather a twist on a potsticker.  It involves tofu, but instead of soggy silken, I used the meaty smoked kind, which has more “umami”.

All told I think wontons will soon make regular appearances in my evening meals.  They are versatile and pretty fun to work with.  Who knows maybe I’ll host a dumpling party pretty soon.  While working on this post, I also saw that Deb over at Smitten Kitchen had a similar experience to mine while making dumplings.  You might want to consult her post for more tips if you want to try your hand at wontons.

Smoked Tofu Wonton Potstickers

(adjust amounts to make as many as you want)

  • half a block of finely chopped smoked tofu
  • 4 green onions or scallions, minced
  • 2 heaping Tbsp. of grated ginger
  • wonton wrappers
  • asparagus or bok choy (or other veggie of choice)
  • soy bean paste or soy sause
  • sambal oelek
  • lime juice
  • sesame oil & other neutral oil
  • sesame seeds

In a bowl, combine 1 Tbsp. of ginger, the tofu and green onions.  In another bowl, mix the remaining ginger, soy bean paste, sambal oelek, lime juice and some warm water.  This is the sauce, so adjust the flavours and amounts as you wish.  My attempt was a bit too salty for my liking.

Trim and prepare your veggies.

Take your wonton wrappers and put a small tsp. of the tofu mix in the center (see top photo).  Go around the edge with your finger, dipped in water.  Now fold over and refold the seams to make little pillows.  Repeat with all your wontons.  Be careful not to stack them as they may stick together.

Prepare a fry pan with a bit of sesame oil and neutral oil.  Let it heat up to medium high heat.  Put in as many wontons as you can, so that they lie in a single layer.  Let them brown and flip them over and brown on the other side.  Now pull them out and put in the remaining batches of wontons, adding more oil as needed.

Once they are all done, put the veggies in the pan with the sesame seeds and stir fry for a bit.  Now add the sauce and put your wontons back in the fry pan on top of the veggies.  Let them steam in the sauce for a bit and then flip them.  Once the sauce has thickened and the wontons are nicely steamed, plate your dish and enjoy!

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