Thursday, June 5, 2008

Chao Shou ( Sichuan Wontons)

Sichuan wontons are called chao shou. Yummy with a hot and tangy sauce (I've overdosed on Sichuan peppercorns in the pic above).

Malaysian are more partial to Cantonese wontons, thin egg-wheat flour dumplings filled with chunks of crunchy prawns. However, feed a 'real' Cantonese from Guangzhou or Hong Kong our wontons and they'll turn up their noses because Malaysian wontons are a poor version made usually of a pinch of fatty minced pork and no prawns because fatty pork is cheaper than prawns. Northern Chinese wontons are filled with either minced pork or beef (no prawns), with veggies like chives, spring onions and in Shanghai, a delicate veg called xi cai, and the thicker wrappers are made of plain wheat flour. Sichuan wontons are not called as such; they are called chao shou, meaning crossed arms, for the way the dumplings are folded into triangles and the lower corners crossed over. Sichuan dumpling wrappers are also made of plain wheat flour and much bigger than our local wonton wrappers. Another difference is instead of serving the wontons in a lightly-flavored 'superior' stock, Sichuan chao shou are served in a bowl with a delicious sour, sweet, hot, tangy, flavorful sauce spooned over them.

My initial taste of authentic Sichuan food was a shock. It was so different from the Sichuan food we get here. While I took to the numbing 'ma' Sichuan peppercorns immediately, I didn't like the oiliness. I couldn't understand why Sichuan food is the second most loved Chinese food, world-wide, after Cantonese food. However, because we are so lucky to have Leila, who's a Sichuan girl studying here, cooking for us sometimes, I am now addicted to Sichuan cuisine, and I now love chili oil and Sichuan peppercorns, which are present in almost every Sichuan dish. I now never order the local version of mapo tofu which is totally unauthentic.

Unfortunately, the Sichuan peppercorns we get here are usually stale and they don't give that numbing effect or a strong flavor. I suggest you get it from friends who visit Sichuan, like I do. It's best to get whole peppercorns because you can grind them into powder or use them whole. I don't know if eating Sichuan peppercorns has any health advantages but Sichuan girls have excellent skin--smooth,fair and pink like white peaches. Honest.

I was flipping the TV channels the other day and the cooking program on making Sichuan chao shou was nearing the end, and gosh, the little dumplings looked so delicious especially with the black vinegar sauce. Leila came to my rescue by calling her mom back in Sichuan for this recipe:


Chao Shou ( Sichuan Wontons)
The Sauce:
1 T finely chopped fresh ginger*
1 T finely minced garlic
2 T light soy sauce
2 T dark soy sauce
5 T black vinegar
1/2 t fine sugar (optional)
1/2 T sesame oil
1/2 cup finely sliced spring onions*
2 T chili oil*
oil-fried Sichuan peppercorn powder or whole peppercorns*

Mix all the above ingredients together. Adjust to your liking by adding more soy sauces or vinegar etc. You may prefer to serve those ingredients with an asterisk * separately so that each person may add or omit them as he likes.

The Chao Shou:
1/2 kg shoulder pork, chopped finely#
1 egg
1 T very finely minced fresh ginger
1/2 T cornflour
1 T rice wine
1 t salt
1/4 t white pepper

optional: 1 cup finely sliced spring onions or Chinese chives
150g (or more) Sichuan preserved veg (ja cai), sliced, soaked 20 min & chopped

Buy or make: wonton wrappers, 10cm/4" square

Note: #Adding the 1 t salt (if you do this, omit the 1 t salt when seasoning the pork) to the pork when you are chopping it will make the pork sticky and the texture 'bouncier'.

1.Mix the above ingredients (except the wrappers) together in a bowl, churning the meat paste round and round in one direction (esp so if your pork is machine-ground) when you mix it so that after a while it will become sticky and develop a bounce. I like to use my bare hands because they mix better than a spoon or chopsticks. Chill.

2. Put a teaspoon of the chilled meat filling onto one corner of the square wonton wrapper, fold it over twice, turn over, then wet the left corner with a dab of water and pinch the left and right corners to seal. Repeat until all filling is wrapped up.

3. Boil a large pot of water and throw half the dumplings in, stirring them so that they won't stick together. Cover the pot, and when it boils, add a large cup of room-temp water to stop the boiling, cover the pot again. When it boils the second time, scoop the dumplings out with a slotted spoon. Divide among bowls. Cook the remaining dumplings.

4. Sprinkle spring onions and spoon sauce over the chao shou and serve hot.


Precious Pea said...

Wah....i can almost feel my tongue getting burnt! Looks really really delicious!

Anonymous said...

Was ecstatic when I saw this..Food post food post!!. I love my si chuan chao shou..

Reminded me of my taiwanese pre-U days not long ago.. there was this chao shou shop just ten minutes from my school hostel.. Loved all the different type of chao shou especially the Ma La Long Chao Shou ( extra hot dragon chao shous..)..The zha cai rou si mien and the liang ban mien.. as well as la mien.... wonderful.. very different from the malaysian ones.. Malaysian wannabe si chuan/ chinese restaurants do a very bad immitaion of the real deal.. and this applies to dessert shops as well.. ick.. and for the price.. dreadful...

And as for sze chuan women. they're known to be one of the best looking bunch apart to those from Hang Zhou.. Because si chuan is said to have the best geographical location and weather, which does wonders for the complexion.. Humid and hot summers ( sauna effect), cool and pleasant winters ( tightens pores and smoothens skin).. Great water source ( all the minerals and natural filtration from the hilly granites surrounding si chuan)... and all that chilli/peppercorns ( great metabolism booster for that rosy complexion not to mention lots of vitamin C and lycopene..).. I love my mom's si chuan food.. hahaha... Thanks for the post.. delightful.

Makes me want to go back home more for my mom's food.. * thumbs up*

Rei said...

Wah.. Terri, you're making me crave for chao shou. I first had these during my biz trip in Taiwan. Think I'll just have to settle for some lousy wontons for lunch for now. :p

Anonymous said...

very interesting looking dumplings. bet they taste equally good.

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

pp: u sure know good food huh! make u some next time u come :)

frequent reader: wow, i'm thrilled tt sombody actually knows chao shou (bc i didn't b4 this!) n all those diff types of dumpling snacks. hmm, i get the feeling u r a guy n i'm not sure what they say about sichuan guys but u sure r right about the girls. they r not only known for their beauty but also for their feminity n sultryness!but God's fair bc despite their beauty, sichuan girls have one shortcoming (pun intended): they r usually very short. true or not?!

rei: u have eaten chao shou b4? *bows* it is amazing how varied chinese cusine is, isn't it. the reader above also mentioned eating chao shou in Taiwan--many sichuanese in Taiwan?

nee: u must make some for greg soon, next week! easy peasy for u.

Anonymous said...

Food has always been my favourite subject along with many subjects that appeals to me.. hahah..
Sorry, but I'm a female and proud to be one. Heee.
I'm actually one of ming's classmates from kian kok.( just mention the classmate with a taiwanese mom and he'll know ) Sorry it took so long to tell this. Anyway, shanghainese food and taiwanese along with si chuan cuisine are my favourites because my mom cooks them and my parents talk about food. Keep on going with all your wonderful posts !!

Big Boys Oven said...

hi Terri,
There is a place for the macaron class please let me know asap if you are joining.


Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

frequent reader: ming thinks u r doing foundation in kedah?? hey, anytime u r back, u can come over for some chao shou ok?!

bbo: hi sid. hub's meeting is not yet confirmed. i will give u a call once i get news. i do want to learn making macorons frm sifu.

irenebui said...

oh... the sight of these wonderful wontons is making me drool.
but i'll have to do without the chilli oil 'coz my monotonous tongue can't take spicy food...
will try this out during weekends and i'm sure will go along well with some noodles...

Big Boys Oven said...

OK will wait! :)

Anonymous said...

Ah, Terri. I am going to try these. Printing out the recipe as I type. These look REALLY Good.!!!

BTW - what is Black Vinegar? Here in US may not be able to find.

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

irene: ask me if u need any help :)

BBO: keeping my fingers very crossed

tealady: oh dear, this sounds pretty difficult if u don't know what black vinegar is. u can try an asian food store. i'll try post a pic for u dear!

Anonymous said...

Okay, Terri, so I found out what Black Vinegar is. Now if I can just find some. Checked our local Asian markets to no avail. Will keep looking. I am determined to try this.

TasteStopping said...

I'm not an expert on any of the chao shou or wontons you described here, but I would eat any of them, prawns or no prawns! At the top of my list, however, would be the delicious dish you featured here. I might have to remove some of the peppercorns (okay, I'm a wimp), but I'd try it and relish it nonetheless.

Anyway, I found you through TasteSpotting and am writing to say that if you have any photos that aren’t accepted there, I’d love to publish them. Visit my site (below), it’s a lot of fun! I hope you will consider it.


Jo said...

This looks absolutely scrumptious and I've already bookmarked it. I've done dumplings before but not a chillie one! These look exactly like whats served in a shanghainese restaurant. Great clicks!

Unknown said...

Do these wontons freeze well? I'd like to make these for a restaurant situation and I'm thinking if doing a lot of them freezing then just popping into boiling water can be fine too? Thanks for the great recipe...

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