HOW DARE YOU. I’M SUPPOSED TO HAVE TASTE-BUDS OF HIGH CALIBER
As we are preparing for our Tuscany vacation that is fast approaching this Saturday, I’m going to quickly leave you with an even faster recipe.
I threw this together in less than an hour today, in a frantic effort to clean out the freezer (duh, to make way for the incoming fleet of
smuggled imported Italian goods), and they turned out to be little drops of afternoon delights. So why fish wonton? Why fish? See, I don’t know about you, but when other people stock up their freezer with prime rib-eye steaks from Cosco, I do mine with frozen catfish fillets. I don’t know why. Cheapness, possibly. Don’t make me admit that I like frozen catfish. I’m supposed to have taste-buds of high caliber. How dare you. No, the point is, I was saying… as I was cleaning out my frozen fish tank, I thought, fish wonton, why not?
Ground fish, here in Asia, is actually quite a common ingredient with wide applications. What it lacks in meaty-ness, it gains in an uniquely light, soft and creamy texture which resembles between ricotta filling and French quenelles. It makes a wonton that is light in body and texture, with a particular sweetness in its gentle nature. To dress it up, I used a deeply savory olive oil with salty specks of anchovies and crispy garlic, brightened with fresh grated ginger, chopped herbs and a subtle zing of tabasco sauce.
Satisfying afternoon pick-me-ups, or, if kept ready in the freezer, light and well.. relatively healthy meal on demand.
- 9.5 oz (270 grams) your favorite fish fillet (see note), cut into chunks
- 1 1/2 tsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 1/8 tsp ground white pepper
- 25~30 wonton wrappers
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 6 anchovy fillets
- 2 garlics, thinly sliced
- 1/2 tsp grated ginger
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
- 2 tsp tabasco sauce, plus more to adjust
- ground white pepper to dust
- MAKE WONTONS: Cut the fillet in large chunks and place into a food-processor, along with fish sauce, toasted sesame oil, grated ginger, cornstarch and ground white pepper. Pulse/run the processor until the mixture is ground into a bouncy and smooth paste. Transfer into a bowl.
- Place a small dollop of the fish-mixture on the center of a wonton wrapper (do not over-stuff). Dab a little water around the filling, then bring the sides of the wrapper together to close (the shape should be organic). Pinch and hold for a few seconds to let the wrapper stick, and repeat with the rest. You can place the wontons on a sheet-tray and freeze until hard, then transfer into a zip-lock bag and keep frozen until needed.
- TO COOK: In a small skillet, heat olive oil and anchovy fillets over medium heat. Use a wooden spoon to crush the anchovies into small bits. Once it starts to sizzle, add thinly sliced garlics and cook until the edges of the garlics start to brown slightly. TURN OFF THE HEAT NOW, and add grated ginger, fresh mint, fresh basil, tabasco sauce and ground white pepper. Swirl to combine and set aside.
- Bring a pot of water to boil and cook the wonton. They should be done 30 seconds after floating to the surface. With a slotted spoon, drain well and transfer the wontons into the skillet. Toss to coat evenly, then transfer to a serving plate. Dash with more tabasco if needed and serve immediately.
If you're using frozen fish (like I did), the weight of the fish is measured after defrosting. I had catfish fillet on hand so that's what I used, but you can use salmon, cod, or any other firm-flesh fish.