Charles Phan, chef-owner of San Francisco’s pioneering the Slanted Door, was boiling up bowls of Vietnamese noodle soup long before most Americans had ever heard of pho — or knew how to pronounce it properly. That is to say, way before it was cool. In his second cookbook, a tribute to the chef’s modern restaurant in the Ferry Building, he details the stories behind his favorite dishes.
Wontons are ravioli-like meat dumplings that are traditionally boiled and served in soup or with a dipping sauce. Start with meat that is very cold — it will stick together better — and avoid the urge to overstuff the wontons. You should only use about half a teaspoon of filling per wonton. It’s easy to make a big batch and freeze for later use. Once you’ve formed the wontons, freeze them in a single layer to prevent them from sticking together. Once frozen, transfer to a freezer bag. The frozen wontons will keep for a month. Do not thaw before boiling.
- 6 ounces ground pork
- 3 ounces shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped
- 3 tablespoons chopped water chestnuts
- 1/4 cup finely sliced green onions, white and light green parts only
- 1/4 cup fried shallots
- 1/4 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 100 wonton skins (about two 1-pound packages)
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 2 tablespoons red-pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- To make the filling, in a large bowl stir all the ingredients together.
- To test the seasoning, fry a small piece in a skillet and taste, adding more salt and pepper if necessary.
- To form the wontons, turn the filling out onto a plate.
- Hold a wrapper in one hand and, using your other hand, scrape about 1/2 teaspoon of the filling from the plate with a small spoon.
- Place the filling in the center of the wrapper and pinch the wrapper so that the filling forms a ball and the extra dough forms a skirt.
- Keep the wontons covered as you continue wrapping; you don’t want them to dry out.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.
- Add 2 tablespoons of canola oil to the pot.
- Add the wontons, about a dozen at a time, and boil until they float to the top, about 2 minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon or a spider, remove the wontons from the water and set aside to drain in a colander.
- To make the chile oil, in a skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil until shimmering.
- Turn the heat off and add the chile flakes.
- Let sit for about 5 minutes, then strain into a serving bowl, discarding the red-pepper flakes.
- Add the soy sauce, vinegar and sugar to the bowl and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
- Sprinkle the sauce generously over the wontons.
- Serve warm.
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