When I was in Chinatown the other day, I watched two old Chinese ladies making dumplings. I watched for an embarrassingly long time. I was hypnotised by their dance as they stuffed and folded. I was in awe of how effortless it was to them, each dumpling a little pocket of perfection. Now I know I'm not gonna be happy until I can stuff a dumpling like an old Chinese lady.
Sichuanese Wontons with Chilli Oil Sauce
adapted from Fuchsia Dunlop's Every Grain of Rice
For the Wontons:
A knob of ginger, crushed with the back of a cleaver
150g ground pork
1 egg beaten, you'll only need half
1 teaspoon Shaoxing wine
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
Ground white pepper
3 tablespoons chicken stock
3 tablespoons finely sliced spring onion greens, plus extra for sprinkling
30 wonton wrappers
For the Chilli Oil Sauce:
50ml light soy sauce
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch ground fennel seeds
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon ground Sichuan pepper
6 teaspoons chilli oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
Make the Chilli Oil Sauce:
Combined all the ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.
Make the Wonton Filling:
Put the crushed ginger into a small bowl and add just enough water to cover.
Put the pork in a mixing bowl. Add the 1/2 egg, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the ginger water, Shaoxing wine, sesame oil and a pinch of salt and white pepper. Stir well. Add the stock, a tablespoon at a time and then the spring onion greens. Mix well.
Make the Wontons:
Put some cold water into a small bowl. Lay a wonton wrapper in the palm of your hand. Use a butter knife or small spatula to press about 1 teaspoon of filling into the centre of the wrapper. Dip a finger into the cold water and run it around the edges of the wrapper. Fold the bottom third of the wrapper over the filling, then fold the top third over the bottom third (like a business letter). You should have a long thin rectangle with the filling completely covered. Dip a finger in the water and wet one corner of the wrapper, then curl it around and press it to the opposite corner at a slight angle - they should look like folded arms. Lay the wontons on a flour dusted baking tray as you work.
Bring a large pan of water to the boil over high heat. When the water is boiling, drop the wontons in. Stir gently to make sure they don't stick together. When the water returns to a rolling boil, pour in a small cup of cold water to bring the temperature down. Repeat this one more time. When the water comes back to a boil of the third time, the wontons should be cooked (cut one open to check). Remove the wontons with a slotted spoon, drain well, put them into serving bowls, drizzle with the Chilli Oil Sauce and sprinkle with spring onion greens.