Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Won to cook with me?

Those of you who know me even moderately well know that I love good food. I've never been a going out kind of gal, so as a result, a good 80 per cent of my "entertainment budget" actually goes to food purchasing. I had two back-to-back good years for food during my undergrad. In second year, I lived with Liz and Chen. Liz loved comfort food and Chen loved Chinese food, so it was only natural I would add to my repertoire of fast, easy, and yummy food. Then, in third year, I lived with Leah, who introduced me to some Caribbean food. Our apartment was only a block away from a good grocery store, so it was a constant source of fresh food and meal ideas. And if I had a hard day at school, I was never beyond stopping by a fish store for a fresh halibut steak, or a handful of large scallops.

Anyway, that's all just a rambling introduction to my current post: Sarah's Won Ton soup. Now, I can be particular about not mixing different types of food - such as serving curry and tacos at the same meal - but when I am cooking for myself, I'm only a "purist" from time to time. Some sacrifices to 'authenticity' have to be made, and some tailoring to personal tastes should be done when you are, after all, cooking for yourself.

Okay, on to the recipe:

Take half a package of ground pork, and about 3/4 cup of raw, shelled shrimp that have been minced into small pieces (Hint: if you like shrimp a lot, chop them a little coarser, so you bite into little shrimp pieces when it is eating time) . Stir these in a bowl, along with a few finely chopped green onions, a teaspoon or so of sesame oil, some salt and pepper, and about a tablespoon of grated ginger (why go powdered when a ginger root is only $0.34 at the grocery store?). If you plan on making fresh salsa and guacamole and aloo gobi (cauliflower curry) in the next few days (this is how I plan my yummy meals), then add a tablespoon of fresh, chopped cilantro as well (I hate buying a huge bunch of cilantro for only one meal).

Get out the package of won ton wrappers that you bought in the produce section, by the tofu and dressings shelf. Lay out a few on a chopping board, and put a small tablespoon of meat in each. Wet the outside edge of each wrapper, then pinch all the edges towards the centre. You really need to pinch it fiercely: if the meat is squeezing out along the long edges you know you're over-stuffing them. I've found it is important not to over-fill them, no matter how much you're tempted, because if pork gets inbetween the wrapper edges, it won't seal properly. I say "pinch fiercely," because I like that chewy noodleyness you get when you eat the soup.

Sit the won tons on a floured plate while you work.

I love lining them up on a plate - it feeds the anticipation!

Then drop them in a pot of boiling water. Boil in batches for 5-6 minutes each, then use a slotted spoon to take them out and set aside in a bowl.

This is the great thing about making your own won ton soup: choosing the broth and the other ingredients. Won ton soup you buy at a restaurant generally has slices of pork, and either bok choy or chinese (napa) cabbage in it. The broth is generally a light pork or chicken. I chose one of those cartons of low-sodium chicken broth, poured in the whole two cups, and then added another cup or so of water.

Since I didn't want that strong chicken soup flavour, but I also didn't want a weak broth, I added in a teaspoon of black bean and garlic sauce, that I found in the "International foods section" of a Sobeys (that means you'll be able to find something like this ANYWHERE). I heated up the broth in a pot, and added to this some firm tofu (I like the taste! And it really absorbed the black bean garlic flavour, delish). At the last minute, I threw some snow peas and sliced green onions in as well.

Put the won tons in bowls and pour over the broth and veggies. The great thing about home-made won ton soup is that you control the won ton content - which means you can have not three, not four, but five or six or seven or eight won tons per bowl! Oh the ecstasy!

And voila! Bon appetit. The thing I love about cooking this meal the most is that when you take the won tons out of the water, they puff up with hot air. As they drain, they collapse into that snug, wrinkled shape that you get in restaurant won tons.

Look at all that pruny goodness (without the prunes, and all the pork and shrimp).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'd love to cook with you but you and me in the kitchen....that's a no no.

However, I did love this won ton soup and think it is the best I've ever tasted and I've had a few. Make it again, please...please... I'll even spring for the ingredients this time!