Good quality wonton wrappers and super fresh Australian prawns, when boiled, transform into silky, mouth-watering, delectable, clean-tasting wontons. A version of this recipe, steamed prawn wontons with organic brown rice vinegar dressing, has been a staple on my Billy Kwong menu for the past 16 years, and at our large Kwong family gatherings.
2½ tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp finely diced ginger
1 tbsp finely diced garlic
2 tbsp finely sliced spring onions
2 tbsp finely diced celery
2 tbsp kecap manis
2 tbsp malt vinegar
¼ tsp chilli oil
½ tsp sesame oil
9 uncooked medium-sized prawns (about 300g)
2 tbsp finely sliced spring onion
1½ tsp finely diced ginger
1 tsp shao hsing wine or dry sherry
1 tsp light soy sauce
¼ tsp white sugar
¼ tsp sesame oil
16 fresh wonton wrappers, about 7cm square
1. Combine soy sauce, ginger, garlic, spring onions, celery, kecap manis, vinegar and both oils in a bowl and set aside.
2. Peel and de-vein prawns, then dice prawn meat – you should have about 150 grams of diced prawn meat. Combine prawn meat with remaining ingredients, except wonton wrappers, in a bowl, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Fill and shape wontons:
3. Place a rounded teaspoon of the prawn filling in the centre of a wonton wrapper. Dip your finger in water and moisten the edges of the wrapper.
4. Fold the wrapper in half to enclose the filling, creating a rectangle. Press lightly around filling and along edges to seal.
5. Hold the wonton lengthways in between your hands and fold the sealed edge of the wonton back in on itself.
6. Lightly moisten one corner of the folded edge with water. Take the two ends in your fingers, bring them together with a twisting action, and press them lightly to join.
7. Repeat with remaining filling and wrappers.
8. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Carefully drop wontons, in batches, into the water and cook for two minutes, or until they are just cooked. To test the wontons, you will need to remove one using a slotted spoon and cut into it with a sharp knife to see if the prawns are cooked through. Remove wontons with a slotted spoon and drain. Repeat process with remaining wontons.
9. Arrange wontons on a platter and serve immediately, drizzled with dressing.
Serve as part of a shared meal with Kylie Kwong's everyday fried rice (optional).
■ Fresh wonton wrappers are available not only in all Asian grocery stores but also in the refrigerated sections of most supermarkets.
■ Sprinkle finished dish with Sichuan pepper and salt for an extra layer of flavour: combine one tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns with three tablespoons salt flakes. Dry roast over medium-heat, tossing occasionally. Once the peppercorns begin to pop and become aromatic, about 1-2 minutes, take off the heat. Allow to cool then coarsely grind using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Store in an airtight container for several weeks.
■ It is fine to omit the chilli oil.
■ Boil the wontons and serve them instead in a light broth (fish, chicken, vegetable broth best ) for a simple version of prawn wonton soup – I season my Chinese soups with light soy to taste and a touch of sesame oil. Bring the broth to the boil, season, then add some freshly trimmed and washed bok choy leaves and some finely sliced fresh Asian-style mushrooms, cooking for one minute. Place boiled wontons into a bowl, ladle over the hot broth.
■ You could deep-fry these wontons for crispy prawn wontons. Heat vegetable oil in a hot wok until the surface seems to shimmer slightly. Carefully add the wontons in batches and deep-fry for about two minutes or until just cooked and lightly browned. To test the wontons, remove one using a slotted spoon and cut into it to see if the prawns are cooked through. Remove wontons with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. I would serve these wontons with a sauce such as sweet chilli or sweet and sour.