My ears are sharp and I quickly look around to catch the culprit of the sneeze. It is winter and the office is a death trap. We work in a studio. Fancy word for a workspace with no cubicles and no corporate dress code. We’re “open plan”. We’re a “collaborative space”.
Yeah, a collaborative place for viruses to breed and multiply.
Not to mention the majority of our team are on a plane more often that they are on land. So here comes a colleague who has just landed from Perth, cheerfully carrying in viruses from being cooped up in an aircraft for 4 ish hours. Here comes that person with the child. Here comes that other guy with two kids. Kids in kindergarten. Here’s that dude who doesn’t eat vegetables so he is sick every few weeks, and he’s coming back from his infected household. They’re all touching things: whiteboard markers, door handles, taps. They’re all spreading the flu like wild fire.
Am I a germaphobe? Maybe.
In winter, I have to always be on guard. I’m not the sort of person who is able to mentally cope with being ill. It means staying in bed for long hours, not being able to taste anything I eat, being forced to eat congee, and abstaining from going to the gym. If you ask me what television shows I’ve finished, I can tell you maybe five. Don’t even bother asking about GoT. I have the attention span of a puppy. Make me sit down for hours binge watching a show and I’ll end up doing other things in the meantime. Long movies? I will lose interest after the first hour unless it’s really good. I can’t sit still, so whenever I catch the flu it is pure misery and hell.
One way we combat the flu season in our household is to incorporate flu-fighting ingredients into our meals. Most foods that contain anti-viral properties are key ingredients in most Asian dishes, and are easily accessible nowadays. Think ginger, garlic, lemongrass, and turmeric. One of my favourite combination of flavours in my flu-fighting recipe collection is prawn and ginger. Aromatic ginger is such a perfect partner to sweet, succulent prawns. My partner Josh has a soft spot for my pan fried chicken and prawn dumplings. We murder them with ginger before serving it with a spicy, sesame soy sauce. I have to be firm and not give in to his pleas for dumplings every night – unless I want both of us to turn into dumplings.
“Sorry, Mr. and Ms. Dumpling, these movie cinema seats are for humans only.”
“But we are humans!”
“…you folks are clearly dumplings.”
These wontons are just another version of that dish. The main difference between dumplings and wontons is the wrapper, whilst the filling is really whatever you want it to be. I like my wontons to be slightly sweeter, so I alter my chicken and prawn dumpling recipe filling slightly to incorporate coriander, coriander stems, some brown sugar and the acidity of Chinese rice wine.
The second main difference between a dumpling and a wonton is the way it is wrapped. Dumplings are wrapped so that there is as much flat surface area available to brown when pan frying. Wontons are wrapped to hold delicious broths, soups and sauces. There are several styles you can play around with, but here I’ll show you one of the easier ways of folding. If you are short on time, you can skip step 3 and finish at step 2.
- Place a heaped teaspoon of filling at the centre of the wonton wrapper.
- Wet two opposite corners and fold over in half, to create a triangle with the filling inside. Pinch down to seal.
- (Optional) Take the left corner and wet the top of it. Pull downwards so it is in line with the top corner. Take the right corner and pull downwards to meet the left corner and pinch down together.
Now that you are a wonton master, you are ready for the real world. Enjoy the following recipe as a starter or a main. As a main, substitute the ginger sesame broth with your favourite wonton soup recipe, and throw in some slurp worthy noodles.
Happy feasting, and do mind your table manners!
Spicy prawn wontons in ginger sesame broth
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
Serves: 4-6 people
- 500 grams uncooked prawns
- 2 teaspoons of ginger, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons of fresh red chilli, chopped
- 2 teaspoons corn starch
- 2 tablespoons coriander stems and leaves, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon water
- 2 tablespoons spring onions, finely sliced
- 2 teaspoons shaoxing wine
- 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon coconut blossom sugar or brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- Square wonton wrappers
Ginger Sesame Broth Ingredients
- 6 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons coriander leaves, roughly torn
- 3 tablespoons ginger, finely sliced
- 3 tablespoons spring onions, finely sliced
- 2 tablespoons kecap manis (dark sweet soy)
- 2 tablespoons chinkiang vinegar (chinese black vinegar)
- 2 red birds eye chillies, chopped
- 3 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
- 1 cup water
- Prepare prawns by rinsing thoroughly in warm water, then peeling and de-veining. This can take a bit of time, so if your fishmonger sells them peeled I recommend purchasing them.
- roughly chop and chuck into a food processor in batches to mince, so you don’t get big clumps of prawn. If you don’t have a food processor, you can dice the prawn meat. Set aside in a large mixing bowl when your prawn mixture is finely diced/minced.
- Throw chilli, ginger, and the teaspoon of water into the food processor and pulse until it becomes a sambal consistency. You can also combine using mortar and pestle.
- Add the ginger chilli sambal, coriander, spring onions, soy sauce, sesame oil, wine, sugar and corn starch into the prawn meat mixture and combine thoroughly. The trick is to use chopsticks!
- Prepare wontons by wrapping a teaspoon of the filling mixture around the square wonton wrappers (instructions above).
- Heat a large sized pot of water to a boil.
- Heat 1 cup of water in a small pan, and combine all the ginger sesame broth ingredients except for the sesame seeds in to emulsify and reduce slightly for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside for serving.
- Heat a pan on medium high and toast sesame seeds until fragrant, then set aside for serving.
- Boil the wontons in the large pot of boiling water in batches for 2-4 minutes, testing to be sure they are cooked. They don’t need long!
- To serve, place wontons in a serving plate, drizzle a generous helping of ginger sesame broth over the top, and sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds. Devour.
- It is always good to be mindful of where you buy seafood from, and understand where and how they are sourced. I got the beautiful fresh prawns for this recipe from South Melbourne Seafoods. 98% of their seafood (including the prawns) are sourced from Australasian waters, from sustainable fisheries. This reduces the impact fishing has on the environment.
- I use Coconut blossom sugar to replace white sugar because it is unrefined, organically grown and sustainably farmed in Java, Indonesia (represent!). It has the most amazing flavour – think caramel and bittersweet dark chocolate – and it is lower in GI than other raw sugars. It is also a good source of calcium and iron.