Folding wrappers over a filling and pinching the edges closed is fun, especially when there’s two of you so you can converse while you’re doing it. My Mom and I made these wontons the other day after she was inspired by the recipe in Food & Wine. Since we couldn’t find fresh wonton wrappers at our store, we used frozen gyoza/potsticker wrappers, which changed their shape from the traditional pointy triangles to half moons. But we still deem them a success! The filling is really tasty, and packed with nutrient-rich spinach. The sauce has a nice spicy kick from the chili oil, and the cilantro is the natural accompaniment to sprinkle on top. We served the wontons with an Asian-inspired slaw: My Mom tossed our leftover peanut sauce from the chicken satay a few nights ago with shredded cabbage, some rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, and sugar. It was finished with a sprinkling of peanuts on top. Since it was inauguration night and all, we decided to open a bottle of sparkling wine, which paired nicely with the Asian flavors.
We ended up changing a few things from the original recipe: First, the serving size. It supposedly served 6 as an appetizer, but a 1/4 pound of ground pork didn’t seem like enough, even for 4 people. So we doubled the recipe and it was enough as a main dish for 4. Second, we encountered some difficulty in the last step of the recipe, when we were told to toss the boiled wontons in a bowl with the sauce — ours must have been more delicate than Food & Wine’s because they started to break apart! We abandoned the tossing, and decided to spoon the sauce over the wontons after plating them.
(Adapted from the January 2009 Food & Wine)
4 cups baby spinach, washed
2 TBS + 3 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. sesame oil
2 tsp. dry sherry (or madeira)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 small scallions, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. fresh ginger, grated
1/2 lb. ground pork
cornstarch, for sprinkling
60 potsticker/gyoza wrappers, thawed if frozen
4 TBS chile oil
4 TBS sesame oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
4 TBS chopped cilantro
- Cook the spinach in a skillet, stirring until wilted. Transfer to a colander. When cool enough to handle, squeeze out the excess moisture, and chop. Set aside.
- In a bowl, combine 3 tsp. of the soy sauce, the sesame oil, sherry, salt, sugar, black pepper, scallion, and ginger.
- Add the ground pork and spinach and mix with your hands until combined.
- Dust a large baking pan with corn starch. Fill a small bowl with water. On your work surface, lay out 4 wrappers at a time. Place a small spoonful (about 1 tsp) in the middle of the wrapper. Dip your finger in the water and wet the edge of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half over the filling and pinch together, forming a half moon shape. Place on the baking pan. Repeat with all the wrappers until you’ve used up all of the filling. (Make ahead: You can cover the pan of wontons with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight)
- Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the wontons and simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. When they float, cook for 3 more minutes. Drain the wontons well.
- In your serving bowl, combine the remaining 2 TBS. of soy sauce, chile oil, sesame oil, and garlic. Add the wontons, and try to toss gently. If they start to break apart, abandon the tossing and simply serve the wontons, then spoon the sauce from the bottom of the bowl over them. Sprinkle with cilantro and enjoy!