Cooking Without a Kitchen: Wontons!

In my Thai kitchen, I am basically limited to frying or boiling things.  As it turns out, when you’re making wontons, these are the only methods you really need.  

Kyle and I spent last weekend sick and in bed (a pretty much inevitable occurrence when you’re teaching small children who don’t cover their mouth when they cough or wash their hands… ever.) For some reason, when we were at the store stocking up on sickness snacks and popsicles, I decided to buy wonton wrappers.  Growing up, my dad and I would make wontons together from time to time, so I knew I could make something pretty delicious and easy.

Needing an excuse to make a mess and feed people my creations, we decided to have a few people over for dinner last night.  I made three kinds of wontons and sauces to go with them, and they came out even better than I thought they would.

The Appetizer: Guacamole Wontons with Cilantro Lime Yogurt Sauce

This odd yet delicious combination came about because it’s avocado season right now, and fried wonton wrappers are the closest I’ll come to tortilla chips this year.  Folding guacamole into a wonton just gives me an excuse to put sauce on something that on it’s own is a sauce in itself.

How to make it:

Use whatever guac recipe you want (I generally use avocado, a ton of cilantro and garlic, some lime juice, and a pinch of salt – you can add or subtract things, and season it to your own preference).  Being careful not to overfill the wontons, put a small sized dollop in the middle of the wrapper, use your finger or a pastry brush to get all 4 edges of the wrapper wet with water, and fold it from corner to corner into a triangle shape.  Make sure to press down firmly on all of the edges with either your fingers or a fork to seal the filling in, otherwise it will just leak out when you cook it.

Heat up about 1/2 inch of oil in a frying pan and flash fry the wontons.  Since the middle doesn’t need to be cooked, you’re just tossing them in to crisp up the skins.  Flip them over so they get done evenly on both sides, remove them from the oil and let them drain on a paper towel.

To make the sauce, I combined plain yogurt, cilantro, lime juice, and a tiny bit of salt together in a bowl.  You can also use sour cream, but since it isn’t really available in Thailand I stuck to homemade yogurt from the Kasem store, which is sour enough to pass.

The Main Course: Basil Pork Wontons with Ginger Soy

Originally I was going to fry these, but the pork takes so long to cook through that it makes the wonton really crispy, which Kyle loves and I’m not so fond of.  In an attempt to lighten up what was essentially an all-fried meal, I decided to boil most of them.  They were super delicious.

How to make it:

First, combine ground pork (or chicken or beef) with a generous amount of ginger, garlic, and basil. Add a small splash of soy sauce, and mix it all together.  Fill the wontons in the same way you did for the avocado ones, using a tiny bit more filling since the wrapper will stretch out a bit when you boil them.

Once your water is at a rapid boil, drop in your wontons one at a time, making sure not to crowd the pot (or they might stick together and turn into a lump of wonton – for a normal size pan, stick to 10 or less at a time).  Let them boil for a few minutes, or until the meat is cooked through.  Don’t overcook them, or the wrappers will turn to mush.  If you want, you can flash fry the cooked wontons for a little crispiness.

You can serve these in soup, or you can serve them like I did with a dipping sauce (my go-to is soy sauce, ginger, garlic, honey, lime juice, and rice vinegar).

The Dessert: Mango Ginger Wontons with Honey Coconut Milk

This was the highlight of the evening for me.  It’s mango season right now, so they are juicy and sweet and the most amazing thing you’ve ever had. I’m not sure how I’m going to go back to eating mangos in the States, where they’re picked green and shipped from who knows where.  They don’t even taste like the same fruit.  The spiciness of the ginger worked really well with the sugary mango and coconut milk.

How to make it:

You can go about this in a couple of ways; either chop the mango into small squares and mix it with the ginger, or throw the mango and ginger together into the blender and puree them.  We went with the puree method because we’re lazy.  We used three mangos and about 2 tbsp fresh diced ginger, so you can adjust this up or down to your own preference.

Again, fill the wonton wrappers and fry them just like you did for the avocado ones.  For the sauce, mix a quarter cup of coconut milk with 1 tbsp honey.  Cram them into your mouth until you can’t eat anymore.

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