On the upside, the sauce looks good! It's a spinach + basil puree with Asian flavors & spices, and I like the bright green look of what Carpenter calls a "rich Chinese pesto sauce".
On the downside, the wontons themselves tasted pretty plain. So I added garlic, more salt. Also I substituted mirin for the dry sherry, as I think wonton filling was missing an element of sweetness (plus I didn't have sherry, and the combo of brandy + sav blanc didn't cut it). Not to mention the quantities are totally wrong: original filling was for more than 60 wontons, and only specified 30 skins! So here's the right way, I think 30 wontons is the right amount.
Makes 30 dumplings, serves 4 as meal or 6 as appetizer.
1 c. chopped carrots
2 green onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 lb. (~225g) ground chicken
1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp mirin
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil (I like Spectrum Organics)
1/2 tsp Chinese hot bean paste
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 pinch red chili flakes powder
30 wonton skins (usually 1 small package)
Chinese Pesto Sauce (recipe follows)
1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
- In food processor, process carrots, onions, and garlic until finely minced.
- In a separate bowl, add ground chicken, carrot/onion mixture, and remaining spices. Stir with spoon or knead with fingers until well combined.
- Cover with plastic wrap & let rest at least 30 minutes.
- Fry up a little piece in a pan; adjust seasonings of filling.
- Make wontons: put about 1 tsp filling in center. Moisten 3 of 4 edges with water. Seal into triangle. Dimple the bottom of filling triangle in middle with thumb, then pinch widest 2 points together with some water to stick.
- Place on cookie sheet, covered with wax paper.
- DO AHEAD: freeze dumplings, or refrigerate up to 5 hours
- DO AHEAD: Make pesto sauce (recipe follows); can keep up to 2 days
- Cook wontons: boil a big pot of salted water. Add fresh or frozen dumplings to boiling water. When they float (about 3 minutes), skim with spider and remove.
- Toss dumplings with pesto sauce in large mixing bowl.
- Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds
Makes a little more than 1/2 cup
12 oz spinach leaves, washed and dried
8 basil leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1 tsp fresh orange peel, grated
1/4 c. fresh cilantro, chopped
1 green onion, chopped
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp white vinegar
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 tsp hoisin sauce
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp Sriracha or hot chili sauce (or hot bean paste)
- In a large pot, heat at least 8 cups water to a rolling boil.
- Prepare a large bowl of ice water.
- Blanch basil & spinach leaves for 1-2 seconds, swirling quickly, then immediately into ice water to cool. Drain and dry.
- Squeeze out excess moisture of spinach and basil in paper towels.
- Add basil, spinach, and all remaining ingredients into blender. Puree until smooth.
- Strain thru fine-mesh strainer (chinois).
- Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
NOTES: prepared everything tonight 1/28 for dinner with Beckey.
Sauce is REALLY delicious and flavorful, but needs a few mods. Because the wontons taste so mild, the sauce tends to overwhelm their rather delicate flavors. Here are my recommended sauce mods:
- Use only 1 garlic clove, not 2: garlic was overpowering
- Blanching spinach worked well, bright green & should help preserve a bit.
- Cilantro is beautiful here, Beckey didn't notice it at all, and it adds a freshness and a hidden floral note to the orange which is nice
- Much less orange peel, it's very strong and overwhelmed other flavors (maybe 1/2 or 1/4 tsp only, a few grates on the zester, taste & adjust)
- Mirin worked really well as a substitute for dry sherry (specified in Carpenter's original sauce)
- Less sriracha (one tiny squeeze); taste & adjust, mine was a bit too spicy, again, not wanting to overwhelm and allow the delicate sweetness of the chicken, carrots & green onions through.
- Only 2 oz of spinach leaves necessary, not 12! About 3 loose cups worth.
- No need to strain thru chinois, it was very uniform after the blender.