Fried won tons with sweet-sour sauce

My mom is famous for these crispy, golden won tons. She brings them to parties, and they are always the first to disappear, bringing sighs of disappointment from people coming back for more. Finding the traditional ground pork too heavy, my mom now prefers ground turkey.

Ingredients

  • 1 c finely diced zucchini (tossed with 1/2 t kosher salt) or 1/2 cup finely diced carrot (no salt)
  • 3/4 lb ground turkey
  • 1/4 lb medium firm tofu, crumbled (1/2 c)
  • 2 T scallion, minced
  • 2 t sake or white wine
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1/2 t toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger (optional)
  • 1 1-pound package won ton wrappers, medium thickness (about 60 wrappers)
  • Cooking oil for frying (corn oil preferred)

Sweet-sour sauce ingredients

  • 1 T cooking oil (corn oil preferred)
  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • 1/2 c ketchup
  • 1 T sugar
  • 3 T pineapple juice (fresh or juice from canned pineapple)
  • 1 T cornstarch

Preparation

  1. In a small bowl, mix zucchini with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/4 teaspoon table salt). Set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine ground turkey, crumbled tofu, scallions, sake, soy sauce, sesame oil and ginger (if using). Mix well.
  3. Squeeze excess water out of the zucchini using either your hands (take a handful and squeeze tightly in a two-handed fist) or cheesecloth (or a fine mesh nut-milk bag). Work to get as much water out as possible. Add drained zucchini to meat and mix well (if you substitute carrot, you can add the finely diced carrot directly to the meat without salting).
  4. To make sweet-and-sour sauce: In small saucepan, cook crushed garlic in oil. Add ketchup and cook stirring hot and bubbly. Add sugar and continue cooking. Combine pineapple juice and cornstarch, mixing to eliminate lumps. Add to saucepan and cook, stirring, until sauce is thick and glossy. Remove garlic clove.
  5. To fold won tons like a pro: Have a small bowl of water handy. Position a square won ton skin so that the corners are pointed up and down, like a diamond. Add a scant teaspoon of won ton filling to the center of the wrapper. Dip a finger in water and moisten the two lower edges of the diamond (like a V). Fold in half, bringing the top corner of the wrapper down to the bottom corner to form a triangle, squeezing out air bubbles and pressing edges well to seal. Imagine the triangle looks like a animal head, with the bump of meat as its face and the two long corners as its ears. Put a dab of water on the corner of the right ear. Push the head down from the center of the top edge, giving it a dent, and bring the two ears up like a bunny rabbit’s. Cross the left corner over the moistened right corner and press to seal. Now you should have a cute won ton that looks like a little boat, or as if its two arms are cradling its tasty filling.
  6. Heat 1.5 to 2 inches of oil in a wok or saucepan over medium high heat (a smaller vessel will use less oil but will hold fewer won tons in each batch), until a wooden chopstick (or handle of a wooden spoon) placed in oil immediately triggers steady bubbling (if the bubbling is furious, the oil is too hot). Lower heat to medium and add enough won tons to swim at the surface, but not enough to crowd the pot. Cook, turning occasionally, until they are golden all over (won tons are unevenly weighted, so it takes a bit of prodding to get them to cook evenly). Remove to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain excess oil. Serve immediately, with dipping sauce.

Makes 80 won tons.

Notes

  • Tofu is generally sold as a solid block; just use your fingers to break it into small crumbs. If you don’t have tofu, you could simply eliminate it, or add additional vegetable.
  • Won ton skins dry quickly, so keep them in the package, removing one at a time as you fold the won tons.
  • For a good video on folding won tons, check out Steamy Kitchen.
  • If you have extra meat left over, you can form it into little meatballs and fry those too.
  • To make ahead: Fry won tons, then let cool without covering. Store in a sealed container or ziploc bag in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, place won tons in a single layer on a baking sheet and warm in the oven on low (300 degrees F or so) for a few minutes, until crisp.
  • To freeze: Freeze uncooked won tons in a single layer on a plate or tray until frozen, then store in ziploc bags until ready to cook.
  • Boiled won tons: Bring water to boil in a large pot. Add enough won tons to fill the surface, but not enough to crowd the pot. Bring to boil, then pour in a cup of cold water. Bring to boil again, then add a second cup of cold water. Bring to a final boil, then remove won tons with a mesh strainer or slotted spoon. Serve with soy sauce with a splash of vinegar (with julienned ginger if you have it).
  • Won ton soup: Add boiled won tons to a simple chicken broth flavored with a bit of soy sauce, garlic, ginger, chopped scallions and/or cilantro. You may also cook the won tons in the broth, simmering for several minutes. Taste one to make sure it is cooked through before serving.
  • Whenever my mom makes won tons, she makes her legendary Chinese green beans, to make double use of the oil.
  • People will eat pretty much anything inside a fried won ton, so feel free to mix up filling ingredients. Ground pork is the traditional meat; shrimp or crab are great variations. If you use water-heavy vegetables, such as cabbage or zucchini, you need to salt and squeeze them well first, or moisture from the vegetables can make wontons soggy. Carrot, spinach and kale are dry enough to use directly. All vegetables need to be chopped finely to cook quickly.

Here’s a link back to the post and pictures.

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