Friday, April 13, 2007

Won-ton-amera

Oh, come on, like you’ve never made that joke. (Say it out loud if you don’t get it.)

Any WAY. I gave Chris the night off from the grill yesterday and instead concocted a delicious pot of won ton soup for an early supper (as I had a 6:30 p.m. haircut). It was ready in 45 minutes, and given that I made the wontons myself, I think that’s pretty darned good. This is an excellent weeknight supper, as it’s filling, healthy and fun to make and eat. It can also serve as a starter for a larger Asian-themed meal, something I’ve done many times in the past. I based this on a recipe out of an excellent Weight Watchers cookbook called Take-Out Tonight, but I’ve zinged up the flavours a teeny bit.

You could, of course, use homemade chicken stock if you have it on hand, and it would make the soup even more delicious. If you’re Martha, you can make your own won ton wrappers. And if you’re really in a rush, I believe one can find frozen wontons in the freezer case at the grocery store. But they’re not hard. And they’re fun! And once you get into the rhythm they go very quickly.

Weeknight won ton soup (serves 4)

1 900-ml box fat free, low sodium chicken stock (or 4 cups homemade)
3 cups water
1 head bok choy
1 bunch green onions
½ lb. lean ground pork or turkey
2 tbsp grated fresh ginger root
4 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp mirin
½ tsp toasted sesame oil
20 won ton wrappers

cornstarch and dampened paper towels

In a large soup pot, combine chicken stock, water, mirin and 3 tbsp soy sauce. Season with black pepper to taste and bring to a simmer.

Meanwhile, trim the white ends off the green onions and cut the stalks in half. Set aside the upper half; finely chop the lower half and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the ginger, remaining soy sauce, sesame oil and the ground meat; mix well with your hands or a fork. Set aside.

Slice the remaining green onions and set aside. Clean the bok choy and cut apart the white stalks and green leaves. Slice the stalks thinly and toss into the simmering broth. Slice the leaves and set aside with the reserved green onions.

Now, make the wontons: place a won ton wrapper on a clean cutting board with the points facing north, south, east and west (on the diagonal, so it looks like a diamond shape). Place a small bowl of warm water next to your work surface. Using a teaspoon, scoop a small amount of the meat mixture onto the wrapper, above centre. Wet your finger and dampen the edges of the wrapper. Fold the bottom up over the filling, making a triangle, and press the edges to seal. Then dampen the left corner and bring the two corners together, forming a small parcel shaped like a house (flat sides, peaked roof).

Place completed won ton on a cookie sheet dusted with cornstarch and cover with damp paper towels. Repeat until you run out of filling or wrappers.

To finish: toss the green onions and bok choy into the simmering broth and turn up to medium-high. After the greens wilt down a bit, toss in the number of won tons you will be eating at that meal. (If you have 4 people, put them all in. If you’re only two, cook half and reserve the rest in the fridge, well covered.) Cover the pot and cook the wontons in the broth for eight to ten minutes. You can cut one open to check that the meat is cooked. The wrappers will swell and become slightly translucent.

Serve in deep soup bowls with china spoons and chopsticks.

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