Last month was my daughters birthday and we usually go out to dinner for these special occasions. But...with the economy the way it is, I made a very special dinner for her at home instead. I got out the wok and spent all day in the kitchen making an oriental dinner.
Before the kids were born, I would do this once a month or so. It's very time consuming. I guess thats why I stopped doing it after I had the kids. The prep work alone takes about 4 hours. Lots of chopping and marinating. The results are wonderfully tasty and worth the work. The clean up is a whooole nuther story all together.
I wish I had had the time to take pictures of the process, but 7 hrs in the kitchen without even picking up a camera was enough. The whole meal consisted of Wontons, Spring Rolls, Pan Fried Noodles with Stir Fried Chicken and Vegetables (I will blog about the noodles and stir fry next) and Moo Shu Chicken with Mandarin Pancakes. Now you don't have to be a complete fool like I am and cook all of this for one meal. One or two would be just fine. But I sometimes get obsessive about it all and well, it is what it is. Anyways...the Mandarin Pancakes didn't look the way they should've, although the flavor was fine, so I'm not even gonna blog about that, or show you the mess. I don't want to end up on some blooper site! I mean, I could anyway, but posting that blog would be like asking for it.
I didn't make the sweet and sour sauce shown in the picture. I could have, but I kinda like the jarred stuff. There were plenty of leftovers and the next day when my daughter asked where the sauce was, she was really bummed out that it had come from a jar. She said she was so proud of me that I had made everything from scratch....but the sauce came from a jar? Ok...but really, its just sweet and sour sauce. So now she's disappointed? LOL
1 lb fatty pork (this was the first time I had used pork. I had always used ground beef in the past and to be honest, I like the flavor of the ground beef a lot better.)
2 tablespoons fresh bean sprouts
1 (8 ounce) can water chestnuts, drained
2 green onions, chopped (the recipe says spring onions, but I'm pretty sure it's the same thing)
1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger root, grated
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon light soy sauce (I never seem to have that on hand so I've always used the regular soy sauce)
2 teaspoons cornstarch
48 wonton wrappers
Cut the pork into cubes and place in a food processor or blender; grind to a smooth paste. Finely shop the bean sprouts and chestnuts, and add to the pork with the remaining ingredients - excluding the wrappers, of course. Mix thoroughly, kneading until fairly smooth. Wrap in a piece of plastic wrap and chill 1 hour.
To fill wontons, place a teaspoonful of the mixture in the center of a wrapper and pinch the edges together encasing the filling. The edges must be brushed with a little water in order to seal. (I just keep a small bowl of water at hand and dip my finger in the water, run it along the edges and seal it up).
Wontons can be made in a variety of shapes. (now this is where I wish I had more pictures for you, but I'm sure you can do an image search in google and find some examples. I just didn't want to steal someone else's pictures) The Purse has its edges all drawn up together into a point at the center of the top. The Goldfish is formed by folding three edges one over the other to give a smooth ball shape on top, and the remaining corer is fluted out and down to form a tail (I personally have never used that shape...seems too time consuming). To make a Swimming Fish, pull three corners up and over the filling in the center, and the remaining corner is fluted upwards and outwards in a tail shape. (Ok, seriously! When you're eating a wonton do you really know which way is up and which is down? Besides, the pictures I've seen of these two Fish wontons look nothing like a fish. Oh but its all about the art and presentation, right? My bad.). To make the Bon Bon, the wrapper is rolled around the filling and the ends are twisted to resemble a wrapped candy.
Now...time to cook these suckers! Heat oil for deep-frying until fairly hot. Fry about 8 at a time until golden (about 2 1/2 minutes). I try and turn them over so they're evenly golden but they don't always want to cooperate. They like to float back over....argh. Drain and serve hot.
8 dried mushrooms
1 whole medium chicken breast (about 12 oz) skinned and boned
1 tablespoon rice win or dry sherry (you can use broth if you want to)
1 tablespoon cooking oil
2 teaspoons grated ginger root
2 cups fresh bean sprouts
2 medium carrots, shredded
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil (optional, but I highly recommend it!!)
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 egg roll wrappers
In a small mixing bowl soak mushrooms in enough hot water to cover for 30 minutes. Rinse well and squeeze to drain thoroughly. Chop finely, discarding stems.
Cut chicken into thin strips; cut strips into matchstick size shreds. (If the chicken is partially frozen, its sooooo much easier to cut, especially when you have to cut it so tiny!!). In a mixing bowl sprinkle rice wine or dry sherry (or broth) over chicken.
For filling, preheat a wok or large skillet over high heat; add 1 tablespoon cooking oil. (add more oil as necessary during cooking, but don't over do it. You don't want it to be greasy. Been there, done that...not good! LOL). Stir-fry ginger root in hot oil for 15 seconds. Add chicken; stir-fry for 1 1/2 minutes. Add bean sprouts, carrots, green onions, and mushrooms. Stir-fry for 2 minutes or until chicken is done and vegetables are crisp-tender. Stir in sugar; sesame oil and salt. Remove filling mixture from heat; cool.
In a wok, deep-fat fryer, or 2 quart saucepan, heat 1 1/2 to 2 inches of cooking oil to 365'. Fry egg rolls, 2 or 3 at a time for 2 to 4 minutes or till golden brown, turning once. Remove from oil and drain. Keep warm in a 300' oven while frying the remaining egg rolls. To serve, cut into thirds. Serve with sauces.
Ok....if you don't want to disappoint your child (or whoever else you may be making this for), here is a recipe for Sweet and Sour Sauce:
3/4 cup orange juice
1/4 packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons rice vinegar or vinegar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons soy sauce (OMG...it didn't require light soy sauce!!)
In a small saucepan stir together all ingredients. Cook and stir over medium heat till thickened and bubbly; cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Serve warm or at room temperature.