Cookbook Preview – Shrimp wontons w/ spicy coconut shrimp oil
FYI, There is an entire chapter in our cookbook with delicious little morsels recipes just like this. Preorder your copy now!
Here is another recipe preview from our cookbook – The Art of Escapism Cooking that is coming out on Oct 15th!
This recipe has many components – slippery, bouncy, rich, tangy, spicy, creamy – working collectively and in balance to support what is ultimately a perfect shrimp wonton. The idea was born out of my desire to eat a bowl of shrimp wontons where the shrimp-ness is celebrated in more ways than one, and to reminisce the time when I was little when I would always try to gather the dark orange oil from my mother’s pan-fried shrimps and spoon it over my rice while sucking on the shrimp heads till my brain hurt. No other person in the family did that. And this is my way of doubling-down on their loss.
As previous recipe preview, I will include the entire intro and instructions exactly as it will appear in the book. Reading back, this one in particular was undoubtedly written on a day of great angst and bitterness (insert lol emoji). Thing is, the way I approached writing a recipe is very different from how it’s done on the blog, mood-swung and uncensored, not all but sometimes landing itself as short outbursts of emotional rhapsodies. Varied from the first cookbook recipe preview, you’ll get a good sampling of the book’s state of mind.
SHRIMP WONTONS WITH SPICY COCONUT SHRIMP OIL
Dear coconut oil,
Bro, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but pretty much anywhere outside of Southeast Asia, until recently, you’ve been mostly associated with butt creams and fantasy vegan baking contests. I know, how fucking rude. You could have been known as the flavor booster that you are, rubbing shoulders with toasted sesame oil and truffle butter, or the grassiest extra-virgin olive oil inside gourmet food stores, but instead, the vegans got to you first.
And you, shrimp wontons, what’s your problem, and why are you so afraid of flavor? Have you ever tried to swim outside of your pool of lovely yet boring soup, with those Cantonese noodles that might as well be dental floss, and for once, get out of your comfort zone? Don’t tell me that I don’t know what it’s like to be put in a box. I had to knock down firewalls just to watch Stephen Colbert and eat a dozen doughnuts to get through the emotional pain of walking from my room to my mailbox, so what’s your excuse?
Here, meet coconut oil. He’s kind of new here and trying to make something of himself, too. I think you guys will really hit it of. Afterward we can all start a group chat and talk about our pathetic lives.
If you prefer a softer, more mousse-textured wonton, you can increase the ratio of the shrimps that are blended into a paste in step one. If you prefer a bouncier, firmer textured wonton, you can increase the ratio of the shrimps that are added last and remain in chunks.
- 1 pounds (650 g) small to medium (41 to 50 count) shell-on, head-on tiger shrimp
- 1/4 pound (130 g) fatty ground pork, really cold
- 1 large egg white, whipped until foamy
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon potato starch (see page 6)
- 3/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 35 to 40 Cantonese-style wonton wrappers
- Flour, for the sheet pan
- Shrimp heads and shells, from above
- 8 makrut lime leaves
- 1 small (22 g) lemongrass stalk, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped peeled ginger
- 1 tablespoon Korean chile flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup (120 mL) coconut oil
- 1/2 cup (120 mL) canola oil
- 1 tablespoon water
- 5 anchovy fillets in olive oil, drained
- 17 or 18 (5 ounces/140 g) cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 small navel orange (1.7 ounces/40 g), segmented
- 1 small shallot, peeled
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- 1 teaspoon finely minced ginger
- 1 or 2 Pickled Chilies (recipe in the cookbook), or pickled jalapeno
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- Plain yogurt
- Finely chopped chives and cilantro Freshly ground black pepper
- Helldust to season (recipe in the cookbook)
- MAKE THE SHRIMP WONTONS: Peel the heads and shells from the shrimp and reserve. Devein the shrimp, then cut them into small pieces and set them aside on a bed of ice cubes. In a food processor, combine the ground pork (I usually use half-thawed ground pork from the freezer, or you can ash-freeze it for 30 minutes to 1 hour) and 1 tablespoon of the whipped egg white (reserve the rest). Run the machine until the pork and egg white are whipped into a thick, bouncy paste, 30 to 40 seconds. Add half of the shrimp, the ginger, potato starch, sesame oil, salt, and white pepper and process again continuously until the mixture is smooth and bouncy. Add the remaining shrimp and pulse a few times, just until they are incorporated into the paste but still remain in chunks.
- Place about 2 teaspoons of filling in the center of a wonton wrapper. Do not try to overstuff the wontons. It speaks to a character flaw if you cannot appreciate a perfectly balanced wonton—both in the ratio of dough to filling and in its form: it says that you have an empty hole in your heart the size of an overstuffed wonton. So don’t. Now, dab whipped egg white around the filling, then bring the edges of the wrapper upward together and pinch gently for a few seconds to close. I don’t really follow any folding rules when it comes to wontons because I quite like the curving, organic shapes, which should look like eggs the moment they’re dropped into boiling water. Repeat and form the rest of the wontons. Place the wontons on a lightly floured sheet-pan, then freeze until hard. You can now transfer them gently into an airtight bag and keep frozen until needed (they should be good for at least 3 months in the freezer).
- MAKE THE SHRIMP AND CHILE COCONUT OIL: Place all the shrimp heads and shells in a food processor with the makrut lime leaves, lemongrass, ginger, chile flakes, salt, paprika, and black pepper. Run the machine until everything’s finely chopped. Transfer the mixture to a medium nonstick saucepan and add the coconut and canola oils. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the shells and chile flakes are starting to brown and the mixture becomes foamy, 7 to 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the 1 tablespoon of water, which will help release any flavors sticking to the solids. Let cool completely, then strain the mixture through a sieve, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as you can. Discard the solids. The oil can be made beforehand and kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks (or freeze to keep it longer). Warm it through just before serving.
- MAKE THE TOMATO AND ORANGE SALSA: Cook the anchovies in a small skillet over medium-high heat until slightly browned and nutty, then transfer to a blender with the rest of the ingredients. Blend on high until completely and smoothly pureed. Can be made up to 3 days ahead and stored in the fridge in an airtight container.
- TO FINISH: Bring a pot of water to a boil, then gently drop in the wontons and cook until they oat to the surface, about 3 to 4 minutes for fresh and 5 minutes for frozen. Drain well and transfer to a bowl. Add a generous amount of tomato-orange salsa and a small dollop of plain yogurt, then drench the bowl with shrimp and chile coconut oil. Sprinkle with chopped chives and cilantro and a dusting of black pepper. Helldust (a chili flake mixture) to kick it up (recipe in the cookbook).