Mì Hoành Thánh – Wonton Noodle Soup

 

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Our Chinese friends make delicious wonton soups with broth so delicate you’d think it was the finest consommé. I always order it at our favorite noodle diner back home though it seems there’s never enough of those plump, toothsome wontons. I like to make this at home so I can double-up on the wontons. I make a version that my family would often enjoy for a leisurely weekend meal. Mì Hoành Thánh could be simple or fancy, depending on Ma’s mood and what we had around the house. Sometimes, Char-Siu (Thịt Xá Xíu) pork slices were added. Other times, there might be tempura shrimp, scallops or fish/shrimp paste balls.

This is a very basic version with egg noodles and pork and shrimp dumplings. I find the flavor of homemade chicken stock incomparable to store-bought varieties so I try my best to make a big batch of it and freeze it in 2-quart containers. These are perfect to make 3-4 bowls of this noodle soup whenever I want later. If we end up having a few more at the table and I don’t have enough homemade stock, I’ll do what Ma did and add a few cans of Swanson’s low sodium chicken broth to the soup stock. Sure, it’s not ideal, but I’d be lying if I said I never did that. Somehow, I’m okay with Wonton Noodle Soup being a little doctored with store-bought broth but not Phở, for example. I mean, let’s not get crazy.

This recipe will make approximately 36 wontons, so you might have extra. You can freeze them (without prior cooking) and boil them later. Also, I’m lazy to fold the triangles into what I call a “hat” shape (which is supposed to resemble a Chinese gold bar), as the original recipe suggests.

 

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adapted from Corinne Trang's Essentials of Asian Cuisine

INGREDIENTS: (4 servings)

  • 2-3 quarts homemade chicken stock
  • 5 dried shrimp or small piece of dried squid (optional)
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 4 oz. shrimp, shelled, deveined, and finely chopped
  • 8 oz. ground pork
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallots
  • 36 square wonton wrappers
  • 1 lb. fresh thin egg noodles
  • 8 scallions (green onions)
  • cilantro (for garnish)
  • chili- garlic sauce

STEPS:

  • Bring the chicken stock with the dried shrimp or dried squid and 1 tsp. of sesame oil to a gentle simmer in a pot over low heat. Bring water to a boil in a separate pot over high heat. Meanwhile, stir together the remaining sesame oil, soy sauce, pepper and cornstarch in a mixing bowl. Add the shrimp, pork and shallots and mix the ingredients until well combined.
  • Place a wonton wrapper on a clean surface so it looks like a diamond with a pointy side near you. Center a tsp. of pork and shrimp filling on top. To seal, simply dampen your fingertip and run it across the edge of the wrapper. Fold the wonton in half so it looks like a triangle. Be sure to gently press out any air pockets. Place the wonton on a plate and cover with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out. Repeat this process until you have finished all the wrappers, keeping them under plastic wrap each time.
  • At this time, cook the egg noodles in the pot of boiling water until tender but firm, about 3 minutes. Drain and divide among the individual soup bowls. Cook the wontons in the broth until they float – about 2-3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, place them on top of the noodle bowls. You can also poach the scallions (whole) for about 3-4 minutes, until cooked through and limp. Garnish your noodles with the poached scallions and cilantro. Top with a dash of fresh cracked pepper and serve with chili garlic sauce on the side.
Bon appétit!

 

p.s. apologies for the photo-quality of the top image - just not totally pleased with it. 

 

You like Kabocha, dontcha?

 

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I think a lot of people like to press the Shuffle button on their MP3 player to mix things up and hear a variety of songs. Not me. If I like a song, I’ll put in on Replay for-ev-er. Sometimes, I’ll listen to the same dang song like, 100 times before I move on to another.

Am I obsessive? Compulsive? My answer to that fluctuates. What is constant is my attachment to a good thing once I find it. This is how I am now with Kabocha pumpkin. Kabocha muffins for breakfast. Kabocha soup for lunch. Kabocha-stuffed pasta for dinner. How ’bout Kabocha pumpkin pie, anyone?

It was the same with Butternut squash a while back. And there was that winter-long fling with Meyer lemons – which, late at night, I still think of. Oh, and let’s not forget my fixation with pomelos.

Nowadays, my fancy turns to Kabocha. Can you blame me? Kabocha, with its deep, emerald skin flushed against this intense, orange flesh is like Butternut’s sexier, curvier, non-surgically altered and intellectually superior cousin. And, it doesn’t need a ton of makeup to look good, either. I mean, who would you rather go home with???

That’s what I thought. So next time you’re at the market, look out for Kabocha. Cook responsibly.

 

Soupe au Potiron – Kabocha pumpkin bisque

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INGREDIENTS: (4-6 servings)

  • 1 medium-sized Kabocha pumpkin (approx 3-4lbs)
  • 1 Tbl. of canola oil + more for coating pumpkin
  • 3 medium shallots, finely diced
  • chubby piece of ginger (approx 1 inch length), peeled and minced
  • 1/2 tsp of freshly ground star anise + a tiny pinch for sprinkling
  • 1/2 tsp of freshly ground cassia cinnamon + a tiny pinch for sprinkling
  • 1 quart of homemade or quality store-bought chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup half & half or whole cream
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper

STEPS:

  • Cut the Kabocha pumpkin in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Rub the cut sides with oil and sprinkle with a tiny pinch of the star anise and cinnamon. Place the pumpkin, cut-side down on a foil/parchment-lined cookie sheet.
  • In an oven preheated to 350F, roast the pumpkin for about 35 minutes (or until a knife can be inserted with little resistance).
  • Set aside to cool for about 15 minutes. Then scoop out the flesh.
  • Meanwhile, set a large saucepan to med heat, add the oil.
  • Next, add the shallot and ginger. Cook (sweat) the shallots and ginger until the shallots are softened and translucent, being careful not to add too much color.
  • Add the cooked pumpkin and spices and cook for another minute.
  • Add the chicken stock and stir to combine and heated through.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Using an immersion blender or regular blender, purée the soup until smooth.*
  • Stir the cream into the soup.
  • Check seasoning again and add more S+P if necessary. Serve warm.

*If you use a regular blender, please use extreme caution as the hot liquid will explode everywhere if you try to blend too much at a time. Fill only up to 1/3 of the blender at a time. Bon appétit!

 

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