A trendier, crunchier take on classic Chinese wontons

Classical: Duck Wontons

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photo by Agnes Lopez

Wontons — small pockets of dough usually stuffed with ground pork, shrimp or other fillings — have been a common Chinese dish for hundreds of years. Preserved wontons from the seventh and eighth centuries have been found in the ancient Chinese city of Turpan. Today, nearly every region of China has its own distinct cuisine, but each one has its own variation of the folded meat dumplings.

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Chef Dennis Chan • photo by Agnes Lopez

They’re easy enough to make: “An uncooked meatball or sausage is wrapped in a noodle wrapper and the finished dumpling is either steamed, boiled, or fried until done,” says Chef Dennis Chan of Blue Bamboo Restaurant in Jacksonville, Florida.

To add a classical touch, Chan added chili oil, an essential Chinese seasoning, especially in Szechuan-style dishes.

Recipe: Duck Wontons with Chili Oil

Classical duck wontons • photo by Agnes Lopez

¾ lb. ground duck
1 tsp. light soy sauce
2 tbsp. finely chopped spring onions
2 tsp. Shaoxing rice wine
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 egg white, lightly beaten
½ tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. salt
1 package wonton wrappers
Chopped spring onions, to garnish

1. For the filling, Combine ingredients and mix well, by stirring with a wooden spoon.
Refrigerate until ready to make dumplings.
2. Place one teaspoon of filling in wrapper. Fold into triangle, and then pinch two points together. Set aside.
3. Place wontons in boiling water until they float. Remove after 30 seconds of floating. Drain and serve with chili oil.

Chinese Chili Oil

1 tbsp. Sichuan peppercorns
1 cup neutral oil
¼ cup crushed red pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt, to taste

1. Heat the oil over medium heat. Add peppercorns, red pepper, and garlic. Cook until flakes turn color.
2. Remove from heat, and let cool completely. Season with salt to taste.

Modern: BBQ Duck Wonton Crisps

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“My favorite flavor is fried.”

“Often times, the texture [of wontons] is inconsistent, and sometimes even chewy,” Chan says. That’s why, years ago, he decided to create a modern version of duck wontons and serve it as an appetizer in his restaurant. Today it’s one of his most popular appetizers.

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photo by Agnes Lopez

“I wanted to present a version of duck wontons in a new way and have even better textures and flavors than that of the original dish,” he says. “The texture and crunch of a fried wonton is better than a filled and steamed or boiled wonton. The sauces are flavors that when mixed on the plate, will give the diner a taste of something different in each bite.”

Recipe: BBQ Duck Wonton Crisps

Modern BBQ duck wonton crisps • photo by Agnes Lopez

½ tsp. ginger
½ tsp. garlic
½ tsp. scallion
3 tbsp. roast duck, pulled and chopped
2 c. veggies (carrots, onions, cabbage)
2 tbsp. Hoisin sauce
2 tbsp. sweet chile sauce
1 tbsp. dry white wine
½ tbsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
12 fried wontons

1. Sauté ginger, garlic, and scallion until fragrant. Add Veggies and duck. Sauté until limp.
2. Add seasonings. Cook until warmed through.
3. Alternate wontons, duck and veggie mixture to form a stack. Finish dish with sauces of choice (wasabi aioli, Sriracha mayonnaise, red chili oil, Thai basil oil).

MarApr2019NCR_cover_loresTo read the full March/April 2019 issue, subscribe to the print or digital version of the National Culinary Review today.

See Chef Chan speak at ACF National Convention: Orlando in August.