Saturday, January 24, 2009

Wonton Soup

knights of the round plate :D

Happy Chinese New Year, Everyone!

This past week, the children have been busy doing a lot of Chinese arts and artworks at school. They were making red paper lanterns, cutting out red Chinese characters, coloring, cutting and pasting the 12 different animals of the Chinese astrology. I have given and received a lot of sticky rice cakes (Nian gau in Chinese Mandarin; tikoy in Filipino). It is work as usual for everybody here, of course, as Philippines do not really celebrate the Chinese new year officially. But for the small Filipino-Chinese community here, we still do celebrate the tradition, in our own way, as our parents and grandparents have done so in the past years.

The Chinese New Year (Xin Nian) or the Spring Festival (Chun Jie) is one of the more important holidays in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and probably Malaysia or Singapore. They have a week-long holiday over there. This holiday is based on the Chinese lunar calendar. The New Year's day being the first day of the first lunar month. That is why it falls on different dates of our Gregorian calendar. This year, the new year's eve falls on Sunday, Jan 25 and new years' day on Monday, Jan 26.

Goodbye year of the rat, welcome the year of the ox! Inspite of the recession and depression many people around the world are having, I think we should all feel more positive and "bullish" this year. :)

How do we celebrate the Chinese new year?

Quite simply, with food! :)

We have a family dinner, usually with fish (yu) because the Chinese word for fish - "yu" sounds like (homonym) of the word that means "left-overs". So having fish symbolizes good wishes that we will have more than enough (that is why we have left-overs) for the year. We will have noodles. Traditionally, it is the misua (thread-like flour noodles) with eggs. This is to symbolize long life. Although, these past few years, we have replaced misua with other kinds of noodles, sometimes even pasta like spaghetti. As long as these noodles qualify as long :) We usually have Dumplings (Jiao Zi) as well. In China, it is customary to make dumplings for the new year. Dumplings symbolize wealth because their shape is like a Chinese tael (ancient Chinese money).

We usually simply buy our dumplings. However, last year, I had the privilege of witnessing how real homemade Dumplings were made. This was made by the mainland Chinese members of the Mandarin Fellowship of our Church. They made the dough from flour and water, kneaded them by hand. They made the fillings. I simply watched and acted as translator between them and the other non-Mandarin speaking people. I found out that even different regions in China have their own flavor of dumpling filling! But they all taste great just the same! And do you know that they start making dumplings by dinner time, and eat as the dumplings are cooked and then they make again, (talking and bonding while cooking) and eat again...and again... up to past midnight! Wow! A great way to celebrate, don't you think?

And so this year, I set out to make Dumplings (Jiao Zi) myself for the Chinese New Year. And ended up with wontons. :) Why? Simply because I did not try to make the dough!!! I thought it was too much work - the kneading, that is. Although I can use the pasta maker. But you see, I get no break from work, so I thought using store-bought wrappers would cut my cooking preparation in half! Wrong move on my part. The fillings tastes great but the wrapper made the supposed-to-be Jiao Zi into wontons.

Dumplings are not to be confused with wontons. Dumplings have thicker, chewier skin and a flatter, oblong like shape. They are often steamed and eaten with soy-vinegar dipping sauce. Wontons have thinner, sphere-like shape and are usually served in broth.

I made the first batch (see the first picture above) and still tried to steam the dumpling-wontons, hoping for the best. But the thin wrapper could not hold the shape up. So, I had no choice but to cook them in broth. Next time, I am REALLY going to make my own wrapper!

Kisses wontons made by Daughter

For the dough (which I did not make)
for every 5 cups of flour, add 1 egg, a pinch or two of salt and just enough water to hold the dough together. Knead or pass through the pasta maker several times and roll flat into 4 inch size round discs.

For the filling

1/2 K lean ground pork
1/2 K napa cabbage, chopped very finely, water squeezed out
5 -8 pcs dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated, chopped very finely
5 T minced garlic, optional
1/4 C chopped green onions, optional
salt and pepper to taste
1 t sesame oil

Mix the filling ingredients very well. Scoop out a tablespoon into the wrapper. Dab a little water into your finger, pat on one side of the wrapper, press together to close, crimp the edges to decorate. (As you can see from the pictures, I made short-cuts again :) Steam for 15 minutes and serve with soy-vinegar dipping sauce.

But as you can see, mine did not turn out to be dumplings. So, I made another batch and boiled them in Chicken broth. Added some napa cabbage and green onions. And they still turned out to be delicious wonton soup! Hearty and filling and warm, perfect for the windy and cold nights.

Xīnnián kuàilè!

Gōngxǐ fācái!


mikky said...

how lovely!!! you made them so beautifully... kiong hi huat tsai... :)

Christy said...

Wonton and 'jiao zhi' are symbolic food for the CNY in China region but it is also practiced by some families in our country.
You've made them so beautifully; it is really from the heart!:)

Wishing you and your family a great year of the Ox!!

Beachlover said...

I want a bowl of your waonton soup now!! Gong Hei Fatt Choy!!

Soli Deo Gloria said...

Thanks! Happy New Year everyone! :D

KC said...

Happy New Year, Ning. Great looking won tons.

Soli Deo Gloria said...

Thanks KC! Happy new year, too! :)

xlpharmacy coupons said...

I was looking for this information, thanks for put in this easy way, I mean in a easy way to understand it jajaja, well until the next time.

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