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Buns & Dumplings – Wontons in Chili Oil with Asparagus

Wontons in Szechuan Chili Oil with Asparagus, by Reggie Soang

Wontons with Szechuan chili oil is one of the most popular Chinese dishes. In this recipe, I am frying some spices in the oil to make the chili oil more flavorful. Wonton filling is made out of ground chicken, which is delicious with the addition of ginger, scallions, garlic, white pepper, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sesame oil. Serve the wontons in chili oil and flavored liquid, such as chicken stock, and then add some chopped herbs, vinegar, and more soy sauce to boost the overall flavor. Wontons with Szechuan chili oil is brilliant on the palate and joyful to share at the table.

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Wontons with Szechuan Chili Oil
Serves: makes 60 wontons

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes (not including inactive time)

Ingredients:
For the wonton dough
300g all-purpose flour
3/8 teaspoons (1g) baking soda
Pinch of salt
3 eggs
1 + 1/2 tablespoon (14g) water

For the filling
1 point ground chicken (breast meat)
3 tablespoons chopped ginger, finely chopped
2 sprigs scallions, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, grated
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon sesame oil

For chili oil
1 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon dried chili flakes
1 tablespoon Szechuan peppercorn
1 tablespoon white peppercorn
1 stick cinnamon
3 star anise
1/3 cup sambal chili sauce
1 teaspoon MSG
1 + 1/2 teaspoon sugar

Serve with
1 chicken bouillon cube, Knorr brand
4 quarts water
1 teaspoon Chinese Chinkiang Vinegar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon chopped scallions
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 small bunch of asparagus, cut into 2-inch in length

  1. To make the chili oil, fry the spices inside of a skillet or a small pot with canola oil on medium-low heat until all the bubbles on the surface subsides. Strain the oil and reserve the fried spices.
  2. Pour the oil back into the skillet and fry sambal chili sauce, and fry it until all the bubbles subside on the surface. Set aside the oil and let it cool.
  3. Once cooled, blend the fried spices with the chili sauce oil until the spices turn into a paste. Set aside and work on the wonton dough and filling.
  4. Set up a pasta machine for making wonton wrappers. Alternatively, use a heavy rolling pin.
  5. To make the wonton wrappers, make a well in the center of a mixing bowl with flour, salt, and baking soda. Make sure the bowl is big enough to fit a hand in there for kneading a dough. Add the eggs and water into the middle and slowly bring the flour to the center. 
  6. Once a dough is formed, knead it until the surface is smooth and cover it in plastic. Rest the dough for 30 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, make the filling by adding all the ingredients together and use a pair of chopsticks to stir in one direction until it is tacky.
  8. When the dough is ready, divide it into two portions. Shape each portion into balls and cover one with plastic while working with the other one. Roll the ball into an elongated disk and pass it through the pasta machine on the largest setting. Fold the wonton sheets back into a rectangle like folding a letter, and roll it out again through the pasta machine. Do this step 3 times. 
  9. Once the wonton wrapper has gone through the pasta machine 3 times at the largest setting, roll it through each succeeding setting to the lowest/thinnest. Run the wonton sheet through the thinnest setting twice. Cut off the uneven edge and spread the wonton sheet out on the counter.
  10. Cut the uneven edge wonton sheets into strips of noodles and set aside.
  11. Cut the wonton sheet in half by running a knife down lengthwise, and then cut each sheet into squares. The size of the wonton wrapper should be around 2.5 by 2.5 inches.
  12. Put 1 teaspoon of the filling in the center of each wrapper and brush 3 sides with water. Fold the closest side to you upward to make a rectangular pouch. Grab the corners aligned with the fold and pinch them together.
  13. Put 1 teaspoon of the filling in the center of each wrapper and brush 3 sides with water. Fold the closest side to you upward to make a rectangular pouch. Grab the corners aligned with the fold and pinch them together.
  14. Cook the wontons in boiling water; once they are floating on the surface of the boiling water, cook them for 1 more minute. Add the asparagus in the last 10 seconds of cooking.
  15. Meanwhile, prepare a chicken stock by heating up the water with the chicken bouillon cube.
  16. To serve, ladle 1/4 cup of the chicken stock into a bowl and add Chinese Chinkiang vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, chopped cilantro, and chopped scallions. 
  17. Add wontons and asparagus to the bowl and spoon 3 tablespoons of chili oil over the wontons. Serve hot and bon appétit!

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