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Wontons with Ginger Bok Choy Filling

I don’t like winter.  I try hard, but even here in sub-tropical northern NSW, where it rarely gets lower than about 8ºC, I still don’t like it.  The short days, the need to be frugal with power when the solar panels are on such short rations, putting ug boots on to get out of bed…

The only good thing about winter is the crops.  Winter is a better gardening season than summer here, and way better for leafy greens.  The cabbage moths are all dormant. The lengthening nights convince them that there is snow coming (they’re not that  good at geography) so they don’t bolt to seed. And the cool days allow things with big green leaves to photosynthesise away without getting desiccated.

I’ve been picking outside leaves of Chinese cabbages for a few weeks now, but now is the first of the main harvests of the season.  I really like Chinese cabbage as a side dish, steamed with soy or oyster sauce, or stir fried with sesame oil and lemon juice.  But recipes that really do justice to a lot of Chinese cabbage as a main dish are not that common.

This took me a lot longer than the half hour of the Tuesday Night Vego Challenge rules the first time I made it. Sometimes I make something and I think, I know with practice that could be easy, but it is nice enough to be bothered practicing? This one made it through the test. If you are really pressed for time you can use bought wonton wrappers.  I find them in the fridge section in my supermarket.  But they are not difficult to make – a bit time consuming – they are the fiddliest bit of this recipe.  But once you get the hang of it not hard.  And if you make your own, you get to use real, free range eggs. It is exactly the same as making pasta – in fact you can probably use a pasta machine if you have one.

It looks like a lot of steps, but all the ingredients are familiar, and by the second or third time you make these, you’ll be making them in half an hour.

The Recipe:

Makes 28 wontons.  We can eat a dozen each very easily!

1. Salt the Chinese Cabbage:

Finely shred 2½ (very) packed cups of Chinese cabbage leaves.  I use a mixture of Chinese cabbages – at the moment it is mostly Bok Choy with some Tatsoi and some Choi sum, but any chinese cabbage is good.  Put them in a colander and massage through a couple of teaspoons of salt.  Leave to sit while you make the wrappers. Then rinse out the salt and squeeze as much moisture out as you can.

2. Make the Wonton Wrappers

In a food processor, blitz until the dough just comes together (just a few seconds)

  • 1 cup of bakers flour (I use the same Laucke Wallaby Unbleached Bakers Flour that I use for my sourdough, but any high gluten flour will work)
  • eggs
  • 2 dessertspoons (or 1½ US tablespoons) of  any light flavoured oil
  • good pinch salt

Flour the workbench and knead very briefly, kneading in enough more flour to make a smooth, non-sticky dough. Then leave it to rest for a few minutes while you make the filling.

3. Make the Filling:

The filling needs to be finely minced but not turned into a paste.  I find the easiest way to do this is to chop everything pretty small first (especially the garlic and ginger), then put it all into the food processor and blitz for just a few seconds to get a nice fine mince.  You don’t need to wash the food processor from the dough.

Make a fine mince mix of:

  • the Chinese cabbage leaves, rinsed and squeezed as dry as possible.
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • a good thumb sized piece of fresh ginger
  • 2 spring onions, greens and whites
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 dessertspoon (¾ US tablespoon) soy sauce
  • 1 dessertspoon (¾ US tablespoon) lime or lemon juice or rice wine vinegar
  • 1 dessertspoon (¾ US tablespoon) cornflour (corn starch)
  • big pinch of pepper

4. Assemble

Divide the wonton dough into 20 little balls.  Flour the bench well, and with a floured rolling pin, roll the balls out very thin.  (If you flip them several times while rolling, you’ll find you can easily get them very thin without sticking.)

Put a heaped teaspoon of filling in the middle of each, and gather up the edges and twist together at the top.  Then twist the excess dough right off.

There’s a knack to getting them right.  You need the dough thin enough, the mince fine and not too wet, and to work quickly and gently.

When you have made all 20 wontons, you should have enough excess dough to roll out again to make another 8.

As you make them, put them on a floured board (or they’ll stick).

5. Boil:

Bring a big pot of water to a gentle boil and boil the wontons for just a few minutes till they rise to the top.

Remove with a slotted spoon and serve.  You can serve with a soy dipping sauce, or make a mix of soy, chili, lime and ginger for a fancier sauce.


{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Casey Lewis June 5, 2012, 9:32 pm

    If this is a ploy to make me visit more it’s working. Also preserves, I made mushroom lemon risotto (so good by the way) and now I don’t have any more preserved lemons again, care pack??

  • Liz June 5, 2012, 10:36 pm

    I go out for dumplings all the time but have never thought to make them – these look absolutely delicious and really easy.

  • Barbara Good June 5, 2012, 10:38 pm

    These look delicious Linda, though I might need some child free time so I can concentrate if I want to give them a go.

  • Liesel June 6, 2012, 10:51 am

    Now I want to go and pick the 2 inch high chinese cabbages and wonton them. There is a yum cha place in Sydney’s chinatown that does scallop, ginger and spring onion wontons that are just about my favourite food ever. Must learn to do wontons! Seems like a good recipe to let the kids help with – messy but fun.

  • Nadja June 6, 2012, 8:47 pm

    Ooh yum! I’m normally put off by ‘fiddly’ but with bok choy desperately needing to be picked I had no excuse. Turned out to be lots of fun to make, and really tasty, so thank you. I made two mistakes – leaving the filling too wet and rolling the wrappers too thin in the middle and thick at the edges – but will definitely try again soon.

  • Jedda June 7, 2012, 7:03 am

    Guess what mum…. Strawberries are in season…. That means I can make strawberry filled Easter eggs with whipped cream and alcohol and chocolate sprinkles and edible glitter…. Love this time of year…… Hehehe. 🙂

  • Louise June 10, 2012, 5:04 pm

    Yum! I love wontons/dumplings. I have just come back from being in China for several weeks where I could eat them all the time, so you think I’d be sick of them. But my mouth is watering at your wonderful filling!

  • celia June 10, 2012, 7:47 pm

    Wow Linda, you’re making wonton wrappers from scratch? I’m really impressed! 🙂 Agree that winter is often a better time for the garden than summer!

  • Ulrike June 11, 2012, 4:41 am

    Sounds totally yummy!

  • Linda June 11, 2012, 10:20 am

    Hi Celia, I don’t know that they are authentic wonton wrappers – your mother will likely be having conniptions again. I just noticed that ravioli and tortellini have the same texture as wontons, so I just make pasta and fill it with Asian flavours rather than Italian ones. The story is that Marco Polo brought spaghetti to Italy from China, so I guess there is a culinary tradition in there.

  • Linda June 11, 2012, 10:21 am

    Just so long as it’s organic, free range, fair trade glitter.

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