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dumplings, wontons and noodles


eatingwitheddie
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When I place an order, I can see them making them fresh, i.e. they retrieve a tub of wonton filling from the refrigerator, slap a dab on a wonton skin, pinch it closed, and drop it into boiling water.

I'm intrigued. Can you describe what might be in it? How does it taste?

I think it makes a dramatic difference. At the risk of stating a near tautology, since these wontons are freshly-made, they taste freshly-made.

The most salient characteristic is the texture of the meat filling. They are noticeably firmer to the tooth and quite springy. I think freezing wontons might tend to degrade the consistency of the pork slightly. Also, this particular shop (Sun Wah located in Chicago if anyone is curious) includes shrimp in their filling which helps out a lot. Shrimp makes everything taste good! Some would say that the same goes for bacon.

Now of course, Sun Wah is a commercial establishment that can afford to make up a fresh batch of wonton filling daily (I hope), which is not a luxury afforded to everyone. The rest of us will have to make do with frozen wontons or jiaozi . Or we can run down to the local bbq shop for a $3.25 bowl of wonton soup.

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Titus:

Sorry I took so long, but here is the recipe for wontons. It's very easy:

5 dried black mushrooms, reconstituted in hot water, chopped

2 - 3 green onions or chives, finely chopped

1 lb lean ground pork

1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined, and chopped into large chunks

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 egg

2 packages wonton wrappers

&

2 - 3 tablespoons dried fish flakes (optional, but adds amazing flavour and texture):

I do not know the English name for it, but in Cantonese the phonetic translation is dai tey yu. I feel kind of silly to say, but literally translated it is "big floor fish". In any case, this whole dried fish can be found in Asian markets. Place it in the oven or on a grill and char it at 350 degrees until it is slighly smoky/burnt. Scrape off the burnt parts and chop coursely. Place in a blender to render flakes. This can be stored in an airtight container.

Combine all ingredients and you have the fixings for some good, old traditional wonton dumplings.

To wrap in the shape of a rosebud or nurse's hat:

If you are right handed, place wonton in a triangle position on your left palm. Place a small amount (maybe a heaping teaspoon or more) near the lower corner of wrapper. Roll that corner towards the opposite corner about half way, making sure the filling is securely enclosed. Dip finger into a bowl of water and dab left corner with water. Secure both rolled ends together by bringing left corner towards you (away from the top corner), while at the same time bringing right corner towards you. Pinch right corner on top of wet left corner. This produces the shape of the aforementioned rosebud or nurse's hat shape. Set the finished won ton cookie sheets and place a damp towel on the wonton to avoid drying out. These can be neatly placed in plastic freezer bags to be frozen for future consumption.

Let me know how it turns out.

Enjoy.

Edited by cwyc (log)
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  • 2 weeks later...
I have also had won ton where dried fish is added. It's a special type of dried fish available in asian markets. I don't know the name of it, but the cook first chars the dried fish in the oven or on the grill, and then grinds it down to small flakes.

cwyc, could you please describe how this fish looks like? I'd like to try your recipe. thank you.

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helenas:

the dried fish is a darkish brown colour. It normally comes in bags of three to five. They are about the size of a hand, flattened and dried out. Do not mistake it for dried, salted fish which are more golden in colour and usually about the length of a forearm.

Once you have it charred (in broiler or grill), you can remove the head and the tail in addition to the burnt bits. It is not uncommon for noodle houses to use the head and tail to form part of the soup stock. It adds another level of flavour.

hope this helps.

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I grew up on Crab Rangoon, and didn't realize they were Chinese-American.

In my college days I purchased a a Fry-Daddy - a large sized countertop deep fryer. I used to make a crazy meat/cheese lovers Fried Wonton. I'd take Pork, Italian sausage, some bacon or ham and then add whatever cheese I had on hand and shape them into my own crab rangoons. They were very rich. One had to eat them one at a time. Then wait an hour between wontons. hahaha.....grease-fest indeed!! :laugh:

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This is what I use for potstickers.  I'm a little embarassed to admit that I reserve the shrimp heads, squeeze them, and return the brain matter to the meat filling.  It's a practice I copied from my cantonese grandma.  As we all know, grandmas (cantonese or otherwise) are the wellsprings of culinary wisdom in any culture.  I've never seen this trick published elsewhere and have no idea how sanitary it is, though I imagine it is no more nor less sanitary than using the rest of the shrimp in the first place.  Perhaps someone can chime in with an opinion and confirm whether or not this is a widespread practice, or if I'm being a more than a little weird.

Don't be embarassed. All the flavor carrying oil is in the heads of shrimp (in Singapore they had a campaign to get people to stop sucking shrimp heads to prevent heart disease...). I don't find it at all strange that you add the head goo to your wontons, it's a great idea! We do something we learned from our friend's granny, where you take the shells and heads and simmer them in peanut oil for an hour or so and then strain. You're left with this bright orange, very flavorful oil to use in stuff like ha mee or other things where you want a toasty shrimp flavor.

As for your wonton mein, the reason they're so rubbery, in my not so humble opinion, is because the mein in Chicago sucks! We were never happy with any that we bought... rice noodles otoh, were always great.

regards,

trillium

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where you take the shells and heads and simmer them in peanut oil for an hour or so and then strain.

Oh that sounds really good. How long does an oil like that keep?

Um, I'm wasn't sure so I keep it in the freezer and just spoon it out when I need it.

regards,

trillium

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Don't be embarassed.  All the flavor carrying oil is in the heads of shrimp (in Singapore they had a campaign to get people to stop sucking shrimp heads to prevent heart disease...).  I don't find it at all strange that you add the head goo to your wontons, it's a great idea!  We do something we learned from our friend's granny, where you take the shells and heads and simmer them in peanut oil for an hour or so and then strain.  You're left with this bright orange, very flavorful oil to use in stuff like ha mee or other things where you want a toasty shrimp flavor.

As for your wonton mein, the reason they're so rubbery, in my not so humble opinion, is because the mein in Chicago sucks!  We were never happy with any that we bought... rice noodles otoh, were always great.

regards,

trillium

Thanks for the reassurance, trill! (I can call you trill, can't I -- Hest88 did) :biggrin: Glad to see that I'm not the only shrimp head sucker out there, although such behavior in public has earned me many a glowering stare.

BTW, you might be right re: fresh noodles in Chicago. I have yet to find a brand I'm happy with. Gkapi hasn't gotten in a supply of Tra Chang shrimp paste yet, but I've located a seller of Amoy Light Soy -- who's out-of-stock at the moment. :sad:

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  • 1 year later...

Hi all:

I hope you can help me find either a class (preferably in the Boston, NY, Philadelphia area, but I'm willing to travel for knowledge) or an online video or (if no other alternative exists), a book with photos ... on how to hand throw chinese noodles.

I remember having a cookbook (I think it was on Hunan cuisine, but I can't be sure) that showed the technique in about 10 photos, but clearly, it is next to impossible to learn the technique in this way. I also remember being at a conference in Vancouver, BC about 7 years ago. There was a restaurant that served fabulous noodles ... and twice a day the chef would come out and demonstrate, for the appreciative customers, the technique. Unfortunately, watching once or twice was not adequate to learn the technique ...

Does anyone know of a class in hand throwing?

Thanks for any guidance ....

JasonZ

Philadelphia, PA, USA and Sandwich, Kent, UK

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The one big thing you would learn in a class is how important the 'feel' of the dough is. This is what everyone, I have seen making these, stresses ---- the 'feel'. But they also say that it takes years to gain that 'feel'.

Florence Lin's fabulous and out-of-print book "Complete Book of Chinese Noodles, Dumplings, and Breads" has a few pages on these noodles -----including one recipe that uses a very small amount of dough that looks very manageable.

If you don't have a copy, check out a library.

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:raz: this looks fun and messy!!

my father used to know a master chinese chef that made these and loads of other chinese dishes i wonder if he still in contact with hmm...

might be worth me calling him and getting a lesson as this is really showy food theatre :wink: i want to learn too:)

"so tell me how do you bone a chicken?"

"tastes so good makes you want to slap your mamma!!"

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There's a place in Philly Chinatown where the guy makes the noodles in front of the dining room.

It's become the most well-known feature of the restaurant, Nan Zhou (on north side of Race St between 9th and 10th).

Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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  • 5 months later...

I need the definitive book on the world of dumplings, wontons and noodles. Can anyone recommend one that might have the addition of photographs?How do you tell which ones are for steaming, frying, or for soup? Are the different shapes an indication of what they are used for? Example; soup dumplings, pan frying or steaming? Some are pleated, some are just pressed together at the top.

I am currently eating something called juicy pork bun. Not really a bun, but a little bigger than a normal dumpling encountered at dim sum. A round shape pressed together at the top with a little hole in the middle. The dough is firm, the flavour delicious. I understand this is a typical dish of Northern China. Any other insights into this?

Shelora

Edited by shelora (log)
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I'm not sure where you can get a definitive book on dumplings and such. Depending which region, dumplings are prepared and served differently. There really aren't any rules that I'm aware of that certain shape determines how the dumplings are cooked. Some dumplings can be prepared more than one way. Pot stickers (pan-fried), for example, can be steamed or put into soup. Dumpling is one of those thing that people can and do get creative with. From the filling to the wrapper to the shape to the cooking method, there are many, many possible combinations.

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I find the Wei Chuan Chinese Dim Sum book to be really useful. There are large clear pictures of the finished product as well as smaller pictures on specific techniques. There are 5 sections in the edition that I have, and they cover yeast dough, hot water dough, falky dough, cakes and mochi, and a miscellaneous section.

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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I find the Wei Chuan Chinese Dim Sum book to be really useful. There are large clear pictures of the finished product as well as smaller pictures on specific techniques. There are 5 sections in the edition that I have, and they cover yeast dough, hot water dough, falky dough, cakes and mochi, and a miscellaneous section.

Dejah - Is that book the same as the Wei-Chuan Snack cookbook? The Wei-Chuan series is always dependable.

Also good is Eileen Yin Fei Lo's "Dim Sum Cookbook", and Florence Lin's "Complete Book of Chinese, Noodles, and Breads" But these last two only have penciled sketches, not colored pictures. BUT, the descriptions are excellent. Finding them might be difficult. That last is out-of-print. Anyone know if someone will smarten up and have it reprinted?

As far as telling which ones are for what, is difficult. Wontons can be used in soup, can be boiled can be fried-- etc. And some raised dumplings are steamed, plus fried. Then there is the combo cooking of potstickers - frying/steaming/frying. And you can do your own thing and have a delicious dish. One time I treated shao mai as potstickers. Tasty!

It is just a matter of getting to know the different styles by doing and eating and enjoying the whole process!

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Jo-mel,

I think the Snacks book is a different "edition". Chinese Dim Sum has a green "bamboo" cover with a steamer basket of siu mai and pearl balls.

One of my friends just ordered Snacks from Amazon, but I have never seen that one.

I want Florence Lin's book so bad I can almost taste it! But, they are collectibles, and the price on eBay is a tad high...

Edited by Dejah (log)

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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I am currently eating something called juicy pork bun. Not really a bun, but a little bigger than a normal dumpling encountered at dim sum. A round shape pressed together at the top with a little hole in the middle. The dough is firm, the flavour delicious. I understand this is a typical dish of Northern China. Any other insights into this?

I found that the term "dumpling" is used very loosely. Just about anything you can wrap with a piece wrapper can be labeled "dumpling". The common use of this term can be analogous to the term "salad". If you want to distinguish between different "dumplings", perhaps you can make a note of their unique names.

The "juicy pork bun" you had, I believe, is called Xialongbao. (Buns steamed in a small bamboo steamer). It is common in North China, and best made by Shanghainese.

The "won ton" as Cantonese know it, are mixes of shrimp and pork (about half and half), with seasoning and wrapped in a thin yellow wrapper. They are boiled in water, and typically served with noodles (or rice noodles).

There are many varieties of "dumplings" served in Cantonese dim sum places. The popular ones are Har Gow (shrimp dumplings, white wrapper made from wheat starch) and Siu Mai (pork/shrimp dumplings, yellow wrapper made from egg and flour). And there are many other variations: fun gao, yue chee gow, etc. etc..

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Even though the name for Shanghainese juicy buns, xiaolongbao , contains the Chinese word for bun (bao), it's technically not a bun -- the dough is not leavened. It's really a dumpling. Sometimes it's called xiaolongtangbao (tang meaning soup)

Of course, if you've seen it or eaten it, there wouldn't be any doubt in your mind that it's a dumpling and not a bun. However, I have seen actual buns (typically mini buns) in the U.S. labeled as xiaolongbao, so bear that in mind when shopping.

hzrt8w gives a nice listing of dumplings, to which I would like to add a couple of my favorites. Not sure if everyone will agree if all of these can be classified as "dumplings".

Yu jiao (woo geok in Cantonese): ground pork wrapped in mashed taro and deep fried (all time favorite. Dumpling?).

Thick layer of glutinous rice dough wrapped around stir fried ground pork with gravy, deep fried. (What do you call this, guys?)

Are sweets like sesame balls (glutinous rice around lotus paste or bean paste, rolled in sesame seeds and deep fried) and tang yuan, and tang yuan's close relative, boiled glutinous rice balls rolled in crushed peanuts and sugar considered dumplings too?

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Even though the name for Shanghainese juicy buns, xiaolongbao , contains the Chinese word for bun (bao), it's technically not a bun -- the dough is not leavened. It's really a dumpling. Sometimes it's called xiaolongtangbao (tang meaning soup)

Of course, if you've seen it or eaten it, there wouldn't be any doubt in your mind that it's a dumpling and not a bun. However, I have seen actual buns (typically mini buns) in the U.S. labeled as xiaolongbao, so bear that in mind when shopping.

Definitely not a bun. The amazing thing about these dumplings was once I steamed them, they had a ridge at the bottom of them that contained the juice - some more than others. I was told by the maker that I was to make a little hole in the side, let it cool off a bit and drink the juice before eating the dumpling.

Dumplings. One of life's little miracles.

Thanks everybody for all your insights.

s

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