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the secret lies in the chili oil

So today I found some old pictures of when I was in Hong Kong. It was beautiful and completely not what I though it would be, to be honest. Living in Japan for so long, you really come to appreciate the cleanliness and politeness of the people and culture and it's fairly different in other Asian countries. Having traveled quite a lot, I see many tourists and you can easily pick out where people are from by how they interact with others and their surroundings. Hong Kong was very much one large city from what I could tell. So many people and it was interesting to see how high they built their buildings! It's surrounded by water and just very clean and modern looking where I was. I know that there are places all over the world, Japan included, that has seedier and not so great places but for the brief time that I was in Hong Kong, I really enjoyed it!


Of course, one of my favorite places was a restaurant that I went to. It specialized in Peking duck and a plethora of dumplings and it was sooooo soooo good! Now I have had Peking duck before but there was just something amazing about this whole experience. The dumplings! There were so many to choose from and each of them came with their own specialized sauces.


While I can't even begin to imagine where I would start to try and replicate my version of the dumplings, I do know that I am not that patient lol. I would love to say that I got online and looked up youTube videos of how to make your own dumpling wrappers and things but let's face it. I just want them in my belly asap!


I do like the aspect of making dumplings at home especially now when going out is difficult and one of my favorite things to use in lots of recipes is chili oil. I love making my own because the longer it sits, the better it gets. Also the process is really simple and you can tailor it to suit your tastes. So that's what I did. I cheated the rest and bought pre-made wonton papers (that is all the grocery store near me had on their online ordering). So I made pork wontons to pair with my yummy chili oil. Doesn't it look yummy??

I did learn very quickly that using store bought wonton papers are very hard to crimp because they are dryer than homemade ones and not very big to start with. Plus I wanted those pretty half moon shapes so I cut my with a cookie cutter to get them round. But, end of the day, they are supper yummy regardless of how they look. Just look at these bad boys lined up like soldiers!

But as the title on this post suggests, the secret really does lie in the chili oil! I couldn't take pictures to do it justice so I made a video!


Take a look at the whole process and you will see, that yes, while making the wontons is a bit of a process, all of it is really very simple. This definitely is not an authentic recipe - but it is a tasty, easy and fast recipe based on ingredients most people have at home. Plus the results...magic when you are craving a bowl of goodness!

I dare you...try making your own chili oil. So much better than the store bought AND you can tailor it to suit your tastes. You can add Sichuan peppercorns or just the dried red chili's like I did. More or less garlic or ginger...the possibilities boggle the mind.


Chili Oil


INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup avocado oil (this is my favorite oil but any high temperature oil would work)

1 Tbsp garlic, finely minced

1 Tbsp fresh ginger, finely minced

1 green onion, finely chopped (whites only/you can use the green in the garnish for the wonton recipe)

3 Tbsp Thai chili flakes (or regular chili flakes for less heat)

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt


DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat up the oil on the stove at medium high heat.

  2. Combine all the rest of the ingredients in a heat proof bowl.

  3. Once the oil is hot, carefully pour into the heat proof bowl on top of the mixture. The chili oil will bubble and sizzle. Mix all together and cool. Store in an air tight jar and use it for everything!


Pork Wontons


INGREDIENTS:

Pork Wontons:

24 wonton wrappers

1 Tbsp of oil, separated

8 oz of minced pork

1 stalk green onion, finely chopped

1 tsp ground garlic

1/2 tsp salt

2 leaves Chinese cabbage, minced (or whatever cabbage you have leftover in the fridge), add 1 tsp of oil to soften the cabbage and seal in the flavors

2 Tbsp of chicken broth (or water if you don't have any)

1 Tbsp of soy sauce

1 egg

water, to seal the wontons and to steam the wontons


Sauce:

2 Tbsp of chili oil

1 Tbsp black vinegar (or regular vinegar...I used chili vinegar)

1 Tbsp soy sauce, low sodium

1/4 to 1/2 tsp sugar to your taste to balance flavors

chives or spring onions, finely chopped for garnish

sesame seeds, for garnish


DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the pork with the green onion, garlic, salt, cabbage mixture, broth, soy sauce and egg. Mix really really well until it almost resemblances a paste.

  2. I used a round cookie cutter to cut my square wonton papers into circles. Totally optional. Dampen the edges of the wonton wrapper with water and add 1/2 of a tsp of the pork filling to the center. First fold in half and pinch the middle. Then pinch the middle of both sides and then pleat. I'm terrible at it especially with the pre-made wontons but have fun with it. It will taste delicious regardless...the key is to make sure its sealed completely so the filling doesn't leak.

  3. Heat a pan on medium high. Add 1 Tbsp of oil and add the filled wontons once the oil is hot. Fry both sides until nicely browned. Then add water to the hot pan so that it covers the wontons to about half way and close the lid so that they can steam the rest of the way. Steam for 5 to 7 minutes depending on the size of your wontons.

  4. Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl, add 2 heaping tablespoons of the chili oil that you made with the vinegar, soy sauce and sugar.

  5. Once the wontons are steamed, scoop into a bowl and drizzle all of the sauce over them. Garnish with the chives and sesame seeds and grab those chopsticks because it's chow time!

By the way, I have already used my homemade chili oil on all kinds of recipes this week. The Hakka Noodles and a few entrees that I will be making for this Sunday's supper club meeting that I am hosting so stay tuned!




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