The best thing about the Geelong ring road is that is possible to get from Apollo Bay to Yum Cha in Melbourne in 2 hours and 15 minutes. Yum Cha is the ultimate family eating experience. There is minimal waiting and plenty of colour and movement to keep the kids occupied and if, by any chance they do start to get a little bit bored,there are always the massive tanks of crayfish to keep them occupied. For me,there are the dual pleasures of an absolute cornucopia of food coupled with the underlying frisson of anxiety that you have either missed, or are just too full, to eat your favourites. My personal yum cha favourite are those glutinous, fried football shaped babies stuffed with sweet mince meat. For Alex (6), Yum Cha is all about Chinese pork in its many glorious forms and for Heide (3) its the crispy tentacles and the prawns. I am now officially getting almost too hungry to write.
One of our favourite weekend meals is chicken wontons. Tragically, you have to drive at least an hour from Apollo Bay to obtain wonton skins so I tend to get lots at a time. I always intend to make enough to freeze some down – if you’ve got homemade stock and wontons in your freezer then you have instant wonton soup for dinner. Hooray! In reality, however,we usually eat as many as we cook. The wonton experience works like this – bowls of rice and bottles of soy sauce and black rice vinegar are placed on the table. The wontons are ferried from the kitchen and devoured in approximately the same amount of time it takes another batch to cook. It tends to become carnage; sweet, delicious carnage. In some ways, this is like yum cha.
Look, these dumplings aren’t particularly special but they are real crowd pleasers. The kids adore them and they make a really fun family meal. I strongly recommend getting some black rice vinegar for serving -its easily obtainable from Asian grocers. Use like soy sauce. Some notes on this recipe – I have no idea what kind of quantities I use, I make these very much on spec. So these amounts are a bit of a guess and you’ll have to experiment. There are a number of ways to cook them, which I’ll explain below.
- 40- 60 wonton or gow gee skins
- 500g chicken mince
- good teaspoon of minced ginger
- clove of garlic, minced
- tablespoon of finely minced spring onion
- scant tablespoon finely chopped coriander leaf and stem
- teaspoon of sugar
- splash of chinese rice wine or dry sherry
- teaspoon of light soy sauce
- teaspoon of oyster sauce
Mix the filling ingredients by hand until well blended. Each wonton skin will take about 1.5 – 2 teaspoons of filling. I have NO idea to describe the wonton rolling action but it doesn’t really matter -just as long as they are well sealed. I shape them with a flat base like a gyoza because I like to pan fry them.
Once the wonton are rolled, you can do a number of things with them. You can drop them straight into a gently simmering Asian style broth and cook for around 5 minutes to have wonton soup. You can steam them, or poach them in boiling water. I like to lightly oil a non stick pan, place the wontons on the pan so they start to fry lightly on the bottom. I then pour a small amount of water into the pan and cover it with a lid. The steam cooks the wontons but they get also get a nice crispy base. These wontons freeze very well but I do find that frozen wontons are best used for wonton soup. If doing this, do not defrost the wontons first but drop them into the stock while still frozen.