I was talking to a friend a few days ago, and the conversation drifted to the topic of food and a restaurant in Singapore that I miss, and I thought about one of my favourite dish there – Hong You Chao Shou (红油抄手). Directly translated, it means “Red oil, crossed arms”. The dish is better known in English as Sichuan-style wontons in chili oil and vinegar. In the west, wontons are typically eaten fried, but basic wontons are also eaten boiled, or in savoury soups accompanying noodles. Good wontons have thin and supple skin and when they are boiled, the skins have a wonderful slippery texture. In this dish, they are tossed in spicy chili oil and vinegar and adding some minced ginger into the wontons complements the tangy-ness of the sauce.
Store-bought wonton skins will always be thicker (at least the ones I have here) , and I always find them more suitable for making fried wontons. In trying to fold them into prettier shapes, I also find the thickness and dry-er store bought wonton skins to be a problem (or maybe it’s simply a case of the lousy craftsman blaming his tools. haha) . If you are making this with store-bought wontons, you will have to be prepared that they will not turn out as ‘slippery’ and smooth as those you taste in a good Chinese restaurants (good wontons aren’t easy to find!). Think I will try to make home-made wonton skins next time. I will be sure to share the recipe when I do! But anyway, let me continue.
The fun part of making your own wontons is wrapping them so get ready for some kitchen origami. 🙂 Thank goodness for Youtube, there are many videos out there showing you interesting ways of wrapping wontons. Here is one clip that I looked at. She is really good! I only managed to do three of out the 7 styles shown. 😦
Number 1: Folded arms style, the easiest. I often wrap it this way when I fry them.
Number 2: Not too difficult too.
Here are some pictures of the finished dish:
Hope you will enjoy this recipe!
Recipe for Sichuan-style wontons in chili oil and vinegar
1 pound of ground meat (pork, turkey or chicken. Don’t go completely lean; choose cuts with some fat in it. You can also use shrimps chopped into small pieces, or whole.)
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp rice wine/shaoxing wine
2 tbsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp salt
1 bunch scallions (you can add less if you do not like the taste of too much scallions)
1 egg, beaten
2-3 tbsp minced ginger (I don’t usually add minced ginger in wontons, but because the cooked wontons will be tossed in vinegar sauce, I added them; ginger and black vinegar is a heavenly combination IMHO. Again, for regular steamed or fried dumplings, I would have added water chestnuts, but again, for this dish, I do not think they will add to the flavour so I skipped them.)
1-2 tsp white pepper
1 packet of store-bought wonton skins/wrappers (makes about 50 wontons)
For the sauce
4 tbsp light soy sauce
3 tbsp chili oil (do scoop up some of the pepper/chili sediments)
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp black vinegar/balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sugar
(You can always adjust the amounts to suit your preference for sweetness/sourness/saltiness)
Mix all the ingredients together. Wrap them with wonton wrappers. See video clip here for some ideas. The sichuan-style wontons I ate are usually wrapped in the ‘rosette’ style, so I chose that pattern of wrapping. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Throw in wrappers, being careful not to overcrowd your pot. Stir gently so that they do not stick and cook till they float to surface and a little more (especially if your wonton skins are thick, like mine), about 4 min. Scoop them up and drain.
Mix the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl. Taste and adjust amount of salt/vinegar/sugar to your preference. Toss the wontons in the sauce. Serve them while they are piping hot!