This weekend I’d planned to cook Chinese at home. It’s one of those cuisines, I know, that’s so much work to prepare that one would rather pick take-out. But we’re used to eating a particular version of Indian-twisted-Chinese food that’s not readily available even in a cosmopolitan area as the DC suburbs. So, to get our vegetarian friendly, Indian inspired Chinese food fix I sometimes venture into this severe-post-production-backache territory.
I always regret having to put in so much effort into cooking after, but this week all the chopping was actually therapeutic for me after last Friday’s event. I also didn’t mind the effort because at the end of it we were going to be rewarded with something I’ve never made before: veggie wantons! While at the store earlier, I’d spied these wanton wrappers, and since I’d already planned on cooking Chinese, bought them on a whim. What a great decision! These babies are easy to prepare (if you don’t mind the mindless chopping) and a joy to devour. The best part is they can use up whatever veggie odds and ends you have languishing in your crisper and can be frozen for later use.
An interesting snippet: Wantons are interchangeably called “momos” in India. From what I can discern, and Mr. Google hasn’t been much help here, the only difference is that wantons are always fried in India while momos are served either fried or steamed. Momo is primarily a Northeast Indian specialty; maybe due to that region’s proximity to the Chinese border, over time dumpling recipes got passed down and were reinvented by the Nor’easterners into what Indians know as momos today? Either way, whatever route they took to get there, wantons/momos are a definitely much appreciated street snack in India.
My recipe will make about 30 wantons, give or take 3. I fried 10 of them right away for an evening family snack and froze the rest.
30 wanton wrappers
10 baby carrots, shredded
5 stalks green onion, minced
3 big white mushrooms, minced
½ cup shredded cabbage
1 tbsp garlic, paste or grated
1 tbsp soy sauce
½ tbsp. Tobasco/Sriracha or any other chilli sauce
Crushed black pepper, to taste
1 tsp sesame or vegetable oil
(More oil depending on the method of cooking you’ll use: shallow/deep frying or baking)
Heat oil in a wide saucepan. Add garlic, carrots, cabbage, onion and mushrooms, in that order, and sauté until soft. Take off flame and mix in soy sauce, chili sauce and pepper. Set aside.
Spoon about 1 tsp of the prepared mixture into the center of a wanton wrapper. Moisten your index finger with water and slide along the edges of the wrapper before folding as instructed on the back of the wrapper package.
Cover prepared wantons with damp cloth to prevent them from drying out. If freezing the batch (in which case, lay them out on a cookie sheet in a single layer before popping them in the freezer), you can skip this step.
Serve hot with a tangy sweet and sour ketchup or sauce.
I fried mine this time since I was already prepared for it. (I also steamed a few but that method was a terrible failure.) Next time I will try baking these puppies. I can’t imagine why baking won’t yield as delicious a wanton as frying since the filling is already partially cooked.
I fashioned the leftover wanton wrappers into the yummiest homemade veggie ravioli! Recipe coming soon.