Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Spice Girl: Vegetarian Chili

I'm a lifelong chili lover. I've never met a chili I didn't like. From the canned Hormels I ate growing up, to the sourdough chili bowls that fueled me during my college years, to my first experiments in homemade chili...I have loved it all. My husband, on the other hand, not so much. Luckily, I have matured (slightly) since the days when I nearly broke up with a boyfriend when he told me he couldn't stand soup noodles (obviously we were not meant to be). I did not file for divorce, instead I invented this super-spicy chili, which led to the following conversation.

D (my husband): This is some outstanding chili!
Me: Oh you like it? I'm going to make it even better next time.
D: (Scooping chili into his mouth like he's last place in an eating contest) No, it's perfect. Don't change a thing.
Me: (Skeptically) Really? There's not even any meat in it.
D: (Stunned) Is there a hidden camera in here?

I've since made it with meat, and actually, we like it veggie-style better. In fact, if you serve it without the fixings, this bad boy is actually vegan. I should mention that my husband and I are spice fiends, so unless you like blow-your-top-off hotness, you'll want to halve the cayenne used. I layer three kinds of chili: dried, powdered, and fresh, so you know it's going to be awesome. One great thing about the meatless ground is that it keeps FOREVER (like a month) in the fridge, so this is a really great pantry dish that takes only about 15 minutes to prep and way less than an hour total to cook.

Vegetarian Chili to Convert Meat Lovers
1 yellow onion (diced)
2 - 3 serranos (sliced finely)
2 - 3 cloves of garlic (crushed or minced)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 package Yves meatless ground
1 can pinto beans
2 cans black beans
1 tablespoon cumin
1½ tablespoons cayenne (only for the very daring, otherwise, start with ½ tablespoon and add to taste)
2 dried chiles, crumbled (I use whatever's lying around, which is often Cascabel)
2 bell peppers (diced, optional)
Bouillon or water
½ can of tomato paste (about 3 tablespoons) Here's how to freeze the rest

Sour cream
Shredded cheese
Green onions

1. Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven (I use my cast-iron Le Creuset).

2. Cook onion for a few minutes, then add sliced serranos, stir for another minute, then add minced garlic and cook for one more minute.

3. Add meatless ground, 2 crushed chiles, cayenne, cumin, bell pepper (if using), stir for about a minute, until ingredients are mixed.

4. Add three cans of drained beans, half can of tomato paste, cover with water or bouillon (about 2-3 cups, depending on how wet you like your chili).

5. Simmer for 30-45 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. I find this salty enough without additional salt, but if you do want more salt, add it at the end.

Serve with sour cream, shredded cheese & green onions. Like most chilis, this is even better the next day.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Healthy Eating: Brown Rice Bowl

A semi-embarrassing thing happened during the three months that I lived in London last year. I gained a some "love pounds" as my husband affectionately terms it. About thirty of them, to be exact. I figured when I made it back to Cali and fresh produce and miniskirt-wearing weather, the pounds would just melt away. Not so much. I've never been one for diets; I exercise regularly and I don't snack very much. Still, I figure it won't hurt to try out some healthy long as they happen to be fantastically tasty too! So over the next few months, I plan on adding some spa food from Canyon Ranch and The Golden Door and some vegetarian recipes from Greens in San Francisco and 101 Cookbooks to the mix. And I'll kick things off with one of my healthy faves.

London may have been a bit heavy on the curries and fry-ups, but ironically, it's also where we discovered the following brown rice yumminess, at a fabulous chain of fast-food eateries called Leon. And if fast-food makes you think of transfats and Super Size Me, think again. Leon is more like speedy Slow Food: seasonal ingredients, simply cooked. Somehow, this particular dish is the exact right proportion of protein, (complex) carb, and greenery to keep you alert, satisfied, and energized for hours without weighing you down.

Brown Rice
Make about one cup of brown rice if you're feeding two people. I use Trader Joes brown jasmine or brown basmati and cook it in my rice cooker on the brown rice setting.

Cole Slaw
Once I started making these brown rice bowls, I started collecting cole slaw recipes. The trick to any cole slaw, I think, is to shred the cabbage very finely and dry it well. I also skip any recipe that calls for mayo, which is possibly the only ingredient I can think of that I don't really care for. I'm also not nuts about shark, but we won't be using any of that either today. This recipe is adapted from the Leon cookbook, which can be ordered from Amazon UK (be aware, however, that the measurements are metric).

Open Sesame Slaw (adapted from The Leon Cookbook by Allegra McEvedy)

VEGETABLES (makes enough for two people)
¼ head of a large cabbage (about 2 cups), sliced finely; I usually use Savoy
1 carrot, peeled and grated
Small handful frozen lima beans (defrosted)
Small handful frozen peas (defrosted)
Handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped

The original dressing calls for a clove of grated garlic, which you're certainly welcome to add. I've scaled back on the raw garlic lately because the benefits (improved tastiness) don't outweigh the drawbacks (24 hours of bad breath and thirstiness) for me.
3½ tablespoons soy milk
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
½ tablespoon peanut oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
¼ teaspoon fennel seeds, ground or roughly chopped
1 teaspoon nigella seed (also called black onion or kalonji)
Pinch of salt, pepper
Grated garlic clove (optional)

Whisk ingredients together until emulsified. Toss vegetables with dressing and allow to sit for 15 minutes to an hour.

Other Options:
Thai Cole Slaw from Attic Magazine
Lime and Peanut Cole Slaw from 101 Cookbooks
Green Onion Slaw from Smitten Kitchen (Recipe by Bobby Flay)
Winter Veg Slaw from When Harry Met Salad (Recipe by Jamie Oliver)

Marinate one chicken thigh or breast per person in your favorite marinade (mine is included below). Cook your chicken on a grill pan over high heat for about 4-5 minutes per side. If the breasts are really thick, you may have to cut them in half (not downwards, imagine cutting a deck of cards, i.e., across). There should be no trace of pink when your chicken is done. Set aside to rest for a couple of minutes before serving.

Vietnamese Marinade (adapted from Andrea Nguyen as printed in the Washington Post blog)
¼ teaspoon granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne
4 Thai birds eye peppers, sliced (optional)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
Juice from one lime
½ tablespoon peanut oil
2 to 3 boneless chicken thighs (or breasts)

Mix ingredients together and marinate chicken for about an hour. Then cook as directed above.

Variation: Halloumi

Say you don't have an hour to let your meat marinate. Or say your husband consumes cheese like a shark tears through chum. You can also use halloumi as your protein.

Halloumi with Chili (adapted from Nigella Bites by Nigella Lawson)
1 package halloumi (a Middle Eastern grilling cheese)
2 red jalapeno peppers (if available) or serranos, diced finely
1 tablespoon of good olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Pinch of salt

Mix the last four ingredients in a small bowl to make a dressing.

Grill the halloumi per the package instructions, about 3 minutes a side in a heavy-bottomed pan over high heat. Halloumi should turn golden brown, but not burn. Place grilled halloumi on a plate, drizzle over the dressing and serve.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Noodlemania in NYC

For me, no trip to NYC is complete without a bowl (or three) of yummy noodles. I once did a mad cross-town scramble with my now-husband to sneak in a bowl of Eastern Noodles two hours before our flight back to San Francisco. Since we go to NYC about four to five times a year to visit fellow noodle-loving friends, I have scoped out what I think are the must-eat noodles in Manhattan. Here's where I ate during our trip last week.

Ippudo Ramen

There's a ramen war going on in the East Village, and it's a war in which everyone wins. Choosing between Setagaya, Momofuku, and Ippudo is a mouth-watering dilemma for any noodle lover, but I've sided with Ippudo. First of all, you get a choice of several broths, including a spicy tonkatsu, which I order extra spicy (you can even add on a $2 side order of their special spicy sauce, which packs quite a kick). Second, the noodles are amazing: thin, resilient, with a satisfying bite. The world is made up of this and that: sweet and salty, male and female, hot and cold, black and white. In the world of soup noodles, people either care more about the noodle or the broth. And as far as I'm concerned, it's noodle all the way.


The noodle is definitely the star at Soba-ya. Cold soba is traditionally served very plainly, with just a slightly sweet dipping sauce, some green onions, and some grated daikon and/or wasabe. This simple dressing allows you to truly appreciate the nutty buckwheat taste and a texture that is somehow both substantial and delicate at the same time. I ordered my soba as a set with a refreshing and colorful bowl of chirashi sushi. Next time, I'm going to try Sobakoh. This is the problem with noodle excursions in NYC, eating begets more eating.

This video of Anthony Bourdain visiting Tokyo shows a real soba-making master at work:

Lanzhou Hand Pulled Noodle

I've saved the best for last. It's hard to sum up how much I love the texture and taste of Chinese hand-pulled noodles, but I'll try. These noodles made me agree to have my husband's baby. No joke. We were sitting in another of the la mian shops in Chinatown (the gamut of which is discussed at length on Chowhound) and I paused mid-bite, looked thoughtfully at the woman who was busily spinning humble dough into heavenly strands of deliciousness, and mused to my then-boyfriend, "If we could hire a nanny who makes hand-pulled noodles, I would have a baby." We're now married, and we had our reception at that very noodle house. Since then, we've switched allegiances to Lanzhou Hand Pulled Noodle at 144 East Broadway, one of finest bowls of noodles I've found in the fifty states.

Did I skip your favorite noodle spot in NYC? Let me know, please!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Two Useful Condiments: Red Chili Oil and Fried Shallots

Believe it or not, I didn't always realize how much I loved soup noodles. Noodles were just a simple lunch that my mom used to make for us all the time when I was growing up. But once I left for college and stopped getting my twice-weekly (or more) dose of soup noodles, I found it was the one thing I craved most on visits home. As the Cinderella song goes, "Don't know what you've got, 'til it's gone."

When constructing a perfect bowl of soup noodles, the basic elements are: homemade broth (usually pork or chicken), noodles (vermicelli, bean threads, korean wheat noodles, fresh egg noodles), protein (fish balls, won tons, grilled chicken, or tofu), vegetables (lettuce, spinach, baby choy sum, broccoli), condiments (chile oil, fried shallots). Using some combination of those five variables, I have made countless bowls of soup, each a delicious, nutritious meal in a bowl. It is the one food I never tire of, my default lunch, my go-to hangover cure, the dish I ate on my wedding day and would unquestionably choose as my last meal.

My mom's house was never without the two key condiments mentioned above, and earlier this year, I vowed to always keep them in my house as well. Neither is particularly difficult to make, and I make it a point to replace them as soon as I run out. Together, they transform even a lazy-day bowl of noodles into something special.

Until fairly recently, Szechuan peppercorns were illegal in the U.S., a situation that sends a little shudder of fear down my spine. I'm addicted to the numbing quality of this spice, which is not really a pure chili heat, but more of a tingly quality that I've described to people as "your tongue on e." These come in a packet that is marked simply "dried peppercorns" and I always amuse myself when I imagine some unsuspecting person accidentally using these in place of pepper.

Ma-la Chili Oil
This oil is a great way to spice up soup noodles, but it's also tasty in dry noodle dishes, stir-fries, in dumpling dipping sauce, etc.

8 or 9 tablespoons crushed red chile flakes
8 or 9 tablespoons Szechuan peppercorns
2 or 3 tablespoons of water
½ cup of canola or peanut oil

1. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pan on high for about 1 minute.

2. Add Szechuan peppercorns.

3. Cook on high for about 3 to 4 minutes. Peppercorns should brown, but not burn. You will smell them releasing their slightly floral fragrance (you may also want to turn your vent on).

4. Turn heat to medium low and cook for another 2 minutes or so.

5. Place your red pepper flakes in a medium-sized bowl and add just enough water to form a thick, dryish paste.

6. Pour the peppercorn-infused oil through a strainer onto the damp chile flakes.

7. Allow to cool and keep in an air-tight jar in the fridge for up to 6 weeks.

Fried Shallots
This is barely even a recipe, or if it is, it's one that can be summed up in one phrase: brown some shallots in oil until crispy. Here's a bit more detail:

Approximately 14 small shallots (found in Chinese markets) or 8 large shallots (the kind you get at Trader Joes or Safeway)
Peanut or canola oil (about ½ cup)

1. Dice shallots. Make sure pieces are roughly the same size.

2. Pour enough oil (approximately ½ cup) to cover the surface of a heavy-bottomed pan completely.

3. Cook shallots on medium-high heat for about 20 to 25 minutes, until they are golden brown but not burnt. Shallots will become translucent and hardly change color at all for the first 15 minutes or so, but will start to brown relatively quickly at the end, so keep a close eye on them after the 15-minute mark.

4. Add generous pinch of salt and remove from heat.

5. Using a slotted spoon, remove shallots to paper towels to drain.

Note: The shallot-flavored oil can be refrigerated and used for stir fries or salad dressings.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Dumpling Mania, Part Three: Buffalo Baozi

The third installment of my dumpling experiments came about by accident. As I mentioned in my previous post, Safeway only sells buffalo meat by the pound, and I ended up with way more jiaozi filling than I planned on. It just so happened that the L.A. Times ran an article about steamed buns on the exact day that I was stuck with this surplus of filling, and a little lightbulb went off in my head (the droolicious photos didn't hurt either). My photos, slightly less inspiring. In my defense, this was only my second time cooking with yeast...which doesn't really explain why they're all misshapen and oddly-sized, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

So that is how, one day after making and freezing over 100 dumpling-y items, I found myself back in the kitchen making baos. I tweaked the buffalo filling slightly, adding some slivered Szechuan preserved vegetable (zha cai) and a healthy dose of Szechuan peppercorn. The other twist was that the filling needed to be cooked in a pan before stuffing the baos. I have no idea why bun filling needs to be cooked, but dumpling filling can be raw, but I do know that if the Internet didn't exist, I probably would have poisoned myself years ago.

Make the bao dough first; it will need time to rise. I followed the L.A. Times recipe by Andrea Nguyen almost exactly, except that I was unable to find instant yeast and needed to add ¼ teaspoon of sugar to the warm water when I mixed the yeast packet.

Spicy Buffalo Filling
½ pound ground buffalo (beef would also work)
1½ tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons minced ginger (buffalo is very gamey, so I added a lot of ginger to counteract, if using beef, you probably only need 1 tablespoon of ginger)
1 tablespoon Chinese hot bean paste
2 cups chopped chinese chives
3 napa cabbage leaves, washed and finely sliced
¼ cup slivered zha cai (optional)
2 tablespoons toasted ground Szechuan peppercorn (optional)*
*Please note, my husband and I like our food very spicy/ma la. As a rule of thumb, most people would probably prefer to use about half of this amount.

Mix all ingredients together and let marinate for half an hour or longer, covered, in the fridge. Afterwards, fry in a heavy-bottomed pan for about 8 minutes, until meat is cooked through. Set aside to cool before proceeding to assemble your buns.

I used a combo of culling through my cookbooks and searching the Internet to find bun-folding advice. Essentially, I rolled the dough out into round wrappers, placed filling in the center, and pinched the edges together in a sort of messy (and none too pretty) rosette. I was nervous that the tops didn't always want to stay closed, but this turned out to not be that big of a deal once the buns were steamed.

To steam the buns, I filled my Circulon dutch oven with about 1 inch of water, placed a silicon steamer inside, cut a round piece of wax paper to fit the steamer and then placed the buns on the wax paper with about 1/4 of an inch between each one to allow them room to expand. I then steamed them for about 8 minutes (counting from when the water started to boil). Leftover buns can be frozen (before being steamed), then steamed for about 10 minutes in the manner described above.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Dumpling Mania, Part Two: Two Types of Potsticker

Okay, those wontons were fun, but they were just a warm up for the main course: jiaozi. The wrapping process for jiaozi is a little bit involved, but once you've made and frozen a big batch, they go from freezer to tummy in about twelve minutes. Make them on a day when you've got extra energy, and you'll have at least two or three lazy day meals all lined up.

The filling is fairly similar to the wonton filling, only we'll be leaving the egg out and adding water chestnuts. I also made a ground buffalo filling, so for those of you keeping score, these are dumpling types 2 and 3.

First, make the dough. The dough needs to sit for about 45 minutes, so you can make the filling while the dough is resting.

I worked from two recipes I found on Epicurious. And as an aside, can I say how bummed I am that Gourmet folded? Here are my starting points: Shrimp & Pork Potstickers and Beef Potstickers.

I made the wrappers per my mom's technique; I doubled the recipe below to make about 50 wrappers total.

Dough (for 25 - 30 wrappers)
1¾ cups all-purpose flour (I used King Arthur unbleached all-purpose flour).
¾ cup of very hot water

1. Boil a large kettle of water and let cool for a few minutes.

2. Measure out 1¾ cups of all-purpose flour.

3. Take ¾ cup of nearly boiling water and, using a chopstick, slowly stir it into the flour, forming a dough (many recipes I've read refer to it as shaggy, and once you make it, you'll see what they mean).

4. Working a few seconds at a time (as long as your hands can stand it), work the dough so that all the flour becomes incorporated. As you work the dough, it should quickly cool off to a temperature that is manageable to handle. You may need to add more flour, a tablespoon at a time, so the dough is not too wet.

5. Knead the dough for a few minutes, until you have a relatively dry, smooth dough. Set aside, covered with plastic wrap or a damp towel at room temperature while you make your filling (at least 45 minutes).

Pork and Shrimp Filling
7-8 fresh water chestnuts, peeled with a paring knife and blanched in boiling water for five minutes
¾ lb shrimp peeled, deveined, and roughly chopped
½ lb lean ground pork
1 cup chopped chinese chives
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon ginger, minced (or blitzed in the food processor)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon peanut or canola oil

1. Take the blanched water chestnuts and chop them into a rough dice.

2. Mix all ingredients together and let marinate for half an hour or longer, covered, in the fridge.

Buffalo Filling
(Unfortunately, Safeway only sold buffalo by the pound. You really only need about half a pound). I made twice this amount and used the rest of the filling, modified, for the baos in part 3.

½ pound ground buffalo (beef would also work)
1½ tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons minced ginger (buffalo is very gamey, so I added a lot of ginger to counteract, if using beef, you probably only need 1 tablespoon of ginger)
1 tablespoon Chinese hot bean paste
2 cups chopped chinese chives (or garlic chives, if available)
3 napa cabbage leaves, washed and finely sliced
UPDATE: I did a second batch and added about two tablespoons of very finely minced (food processorized) zha cai to the filling. This batch came out insanely good: juicy, flavorful, but not at all pickle-y.

Mix all ingredients together and let marinate for half an hour or longer, covered, in the fridge.

Wrappers and Assembly

1. Once the dough has rested for at least 45 minutes, divide it in half, then in half again. Take one of the quarter pieces of dough and place the rest back under the plastic wrap or damp towel.

2. On a lightly floured board, roll the dough out into a long tube, about an inch in diameter.

3. Cut the dough into pieces a little over an inch long. I think of them as "gnocchi-sized" (See photo).

4. Flatten one of the pieces of dough with the palm of your hand, then roll it out with a rolling pin to a circle about 3¼ inches in diameter.

5. Repeat with the rest of the dough, being sure to flour your board lightly between wrappers.

To assemble the potstickers, you will need a small cup or bowl of water to seal the dumplings. You will also want a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and a piece of plastic wrap to lightly cover the dumplings and prevent them from drying out as you're working.

6. Place one of the wrappers in your palm and place about a tablespoon of filling in the center. Wet the edge of the wrapper.

7. Fold like a taco and pinch the center together. Then seal the edges with a series of pinches. (There are many sites on the web that describe a more elaborate "pleating" technique, if you feel like being fancy.)

8. Put the potsticker, resting on its "bottom" on the cookie sheet and cover with the plastic wrap.

9. Wrap the rest of your potstickers. At this point, they can be frozen and saved for up to three months. First arrange them on a sheet of wax paper, making sure to leave space between your dumplings so they don't stick together. Then place them in your freezer for about an hour. Once they are frozen solid, transfer them to a freezer bag. Cooking instructions below work for both fresh and frozen dumplings, but you may have to add a minute or two of cooking time for frozen.

Cooking Jiaozi
Pretty much identical to the wonton boiling technique, but I'll repeat here. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Without overcrowding the pot, drop in your dumplings. Bring water back to a boil. Once it's boiling again, add a cup of cold water. Bring the water back to a boil. Again add a cup of cold water. Repeat one last time. This process usually takes about 8-10 minutes for me depending on how many dumplings I'm making. The dumplings will float and their wrappers will be semi-translucent when they're done. Serve with slivered ginger, rice vinegar, chili oil, and a splash of soy sauce.


Swirl a small amount of peanut or canola oil in a heavy bottomed frying pan just large enough to fit your dumplings in a single, loose layer (keep in mind that they will expand slightly when cooked, so they should be barely touching each other). If you're making a large amount, you may have to do this in batches. My 10" frying pan comfortably fits 20 dumplings which is pretty perfect for two adults (12 for my husband, 8 for me). Once oil is hot, place dumplings in the pan and cook for about one minute to form a crust on the bottom. Grab a tight-fitting lid for your pan, pour in ¼ cup of room-temperature water and *immediately* clamp the lid down. Be careful! Pouring water into hot oil generally causes some splattering, but if you're quick with the lid, you should be able to avoid any mess. Turn flame to medium and cook, covered, for about three minutes. Then remove lid and allow the rest of the liquid to cook off (about 2 more minutes). Serve with slivered ginger, rice vinegar, chili oil, and a splash of soy sauce.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Dumpling Mania, Part One: Pork & Shrimp Wontons

Kissing cousins with noodles, dumplings are another of my all-time favorite things to eat. This week, I decided to tackle not one, not two, but four kinds of dumplings at once. I now have a callus on my hand from four hours with the rolling pin, and a freezer full of wontons, baos, and potstickers.

For the wontons, I worked mostly from this wonderful tutorial from Bouchon For 2.

I tweaked the filling quite a bit. Though I used only about half a pound of pork (rather than the recommended pound), I found there was plenty of filling for 50 wontons. I decided not to chop the shrimp finely, but rather to cut each piece in half and tuck the large shrimp pieces into my wontons. My first wonton attempt revealed that I could only fit one shrimp piece per wonton. I ran out of shrimp with about 12 wontons to go, so the last dozen wontons were pork only. Writing this whole thing out, I now realize that some first-grade level math would have told me exactly how many shrimp I needed. Correct answer included below.

1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons corn starch
¼ cup of water
2 tablespoons shaoxing rice wine
1½ tablespoon young ginger, minced (or blitzed in the blender)
Pinch of salt

½ pound lean ground pork
2½ cups of chopped chinese chives (I love garlic chives, which the original recipe uses, but I believe they're out of season)
1 egg
25 shrimp, shelled, deveined, and cut in half

50 packaged wonton wrappers
Small bowl of water for sealing

1. Place all the marinade ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together. Pour mixture into ground pork and incorporate well (I find it easiest to use my hands). Marinate for half an hour, covered, in the fridge.

2. After half an hour, stir in the chives and egg with a spoon or chopstick.

3. Place a wonton wrapper in your hand, oriented like a diamond, not a square. Using a small spoon, scoop a ball of pork mixture and place it in the top half of the wrapper. Take a piece of shrimp and place it on top (see photo).

4. Dip your fingertip in a bowl of water and wet the edge of the bottom half of your wrapper. Bring the top half over and seal firmly. You can leave the wonton as is, or optionally you can bring the two triangle corners together and press together with another dab of water. this seals the dumpling more securely, making it less likely to break apart while cooking. Avoid overfilling. Place wonton on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. As you're working, keep your completed wontons lightly covered with a piece of plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out.

5. Once you have completed all of your wontons, set aside any that you plan to freeze (see note below). Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Without overcrowding the pot, drop in your wontons. Bring water back to a boil. Once it's boiling again, add a cup of cold water. Bring the water back to a boil. Again add a cup of cold water. Repeat one last time. This process usually takes about 7-9 minutes for me depending on how many wontons I'm making.

6. Serve with a little chili oil and a splash of soy sauce. You can garnish with chopped scallions or grated ginger.

Heat up two cups of homemade chicken broth or instant dashi. Halfway through step 5 (above), throw in a serving of thin egg noodles (often labeled wonton noodles and available at any Chinese market). At the very last minute, blanch a handful of greens (lettuce, baby bok choy, or spinach) in the boiling water. Drain the pot, place noodles, vegetables and wontons in a large soup bowl and cover with hot broth. Garnish with fried shallots and chili oil.

To Freeze Wontons

Arrange your wontons so they are not touching and place, uncovered, in your freezer for about 45 minutes (until frozen solid). Do not cover with plastic wrap! Do not do what I did and layer multiple stacks of dumplings on top of each other with wax paper and Saran Wrap in between. This will cause them to go slimy and weird and cause you to possibly lose your sanity as you watch hours of labor nearly go down the drain. Luckily I figured this out in time and spread them throughout every spare surface of my freezer in a probably unhygienic but eventually effective fashion.

Next time I'd probably just stack a cookie sheet on top of a baking pan to double my freezing surface area. Once wontons are frozen solid, you can place them in a freezer bag and keep for up to 3 months. When you are ready to cook your frozen wontons, follow step 5 above. You do not need to thaw them first.