Thursday, December 10, 2009

Re-post: Chao Sou

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: P1230316 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.


Katie said...

I love dumplings and chili oil so this dish is a definite winner in my eyes! I've never tried Sichuan peppercorns (that I know of) but I've heard they are very hot, probably too hot for me.

Precious Pea said...

Nowadays, everywhere you turn to in Melbourne, you will see dumpling shop mushrooming everywhere! But then, nothing looks as good as yours leh, am serious!

Jason said...

You have a great site here. I found it on Blogcatalog actually. I have a travel blog myself which I hope to be a top resource for those looking to find travel experiences and even vacation ideas. I would like to exchange links with you to spread some traffic around between us. Please let me know if this is possible.


Ninette said...

Wow, that looks SO GOOD!! I saw Zurin's post and came right on over.

The Gypsy Chef said...

Wow! That looks so good! I also found your blog on Zurin's post. I am now addicted. Pam

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