Sunday, 28 September 2014

Asian Chicken Soup with Beef Wontons

So, as most of you know, we just finished this holiday called Rosh Hashana, which is just the beginning of a month of nonstop eating (minus Yom Kippur of course).
Don'tya just love it?
I hosted my first Rosh Hashana meal this year, and of course overcooked, but it was worth it.
Since some of you might be interested in ideas for Sukkos cooking (or just in general), I'll share my menu with you.

Challah with crumb topping (basically cake, I make this once a year, SO good)
Panko Gefilte Fish
Smoked Herring (bought from store, for the 'head of the fish')
Beet Salad with Lemon and Dill
Simanim Salad with Spinach, Romaine, Pomegranates, Apples and Dates
Asian Chicken Soup with Beef Wontons (Recipe to follow)
Butternut Squash Kugel
Apple Noodle Kugel
Date Roasted Carrots and Parsnips
Garlic Sesame Green Beans
Eggplant Roulades with Zucchini Stuffing
Cilantro Lime Chicken
Orange Herb Roasted Chicken
Kefta Kebabs with Tehini 
Pumpkin Cake
Mini Apple Pies

This list is exhausting to type out! No wonder I have so many leftovers in my fridge and freezer... But I am not complaining, as this means no cooking basically this whole week :P. 
Now onto the main event, the recipe!

This soup was definitely a showstopper. I have been craving this soup for a very long time. We don't really have good kosher Asian food in Toronto, so I have to get creative. 
When it comes to cooking for holidays, I am not a big fan of the overly traditional recipes- kugel, kreplach, gefilte fish, etc. Not to say that I don't make them, but I like to give them a modern twist. Chicken soup with kreplach is a pretty traditional Rosh Hashana food. Change the flavours around, and now we're talking Wonton Soup! Most recipes I could find online incorporated pork and shellfish. While tasty, those are kind of big no-no's in kosher cooking. I had to take some ideas but basically start from scratch. This soup turned out so delicious and authentic! My friend who has had her share of non-kosher Wonton soup said it tasted like the real thing. It really is a pretty simple recipe, and its really about incorporating the key Asian flavours together to create something extremely delicious!

Asian Chicken Soup with Beef Wontons

1 package chicken bones
2 green onions
Chicken soup powder and/or salt to taste (I know, it's the devil, but it's the secret ingredient and gives the soup more flavour, especially since nothing else is really going into the soup).
Wonton Wrappers (I buy the double package, and used one of the packs which made 30)
1/2 package ground beef
3 cloves garlic, minced finely
1/2 tsp fresh minced ginger (I grate it from frozen)
Splash soy sauce
Splash sesame oil

Place the chicken bones and just the green stems of the green onion into a large crock-pot. Fill the crock-pot until almost the top with water. Set on low and cook for 8-10 hours (I opted for overnight; it made my cooking so much easier without having to worry about making soup with 1000 other things to make. When soup is cooked, skim the top of the yucky foamy looking stuff. If you have a chance, bring the soup to a cool and stick in the fridge, and when it's cold, the fat will solidify. If you don't have a chance, do what you can, and it will be fine. Remove the green onion, and have fun picking the meat off the chicken bones when its manageable/not too hot. Return the chicken to the soup. Now, you could also make this soup in a pot, it was just easier for me in a crock-pot, but regardless how counterproductive this sounds, pour the soup into a pot. Season with salt and/or chicken soup powder( I did a little of both). 
Now that your soup is ready, let's focus on them wontons!
You could easily double this recipe and make the whole pack of wonton wrappers, but I was lazy and wasn't having that many guests that I needed 60 wontons. 
In a medium bowl, add 1/2 pack of ground beef (I used medium but I prefer lean), 2 minced green onions (white/light green parts- remember we used the dark green parts for the soup?), minced garlic, minced ginger, a splash of soy sauce and a splash of sesame oil. Sorry, I did not measure my splashes, but they're somewhere between 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp. Mix the beef and seasonings with your hands, and make around 30 tiny beef balls. Get a small bowl and fill it with a little cold water. Open you package of wonton wrappers, and one at a time, dip your finger in the bowl of water, and line the edges of the wrappers with water, and drop a beef ball in the middle. This is where it is helpful to have someone else in the kitchen, because it gets messy with meat-y hands and trying to fold a wonton. If you don't have someone with you, it may be easier to do a few at a time and then wash your hands in between. My husband is an excellent meatball roller- and dropper! Sh'koyach to him! Anyways, back to the folding: fold the wonton in half so it makes a triangle. Then, fold the outer edges in, so that it is almost 'hugging' the meatball. I know this is a little difficult to explain in text, so you will see in the picture how I did it. Make sure you wet where you are placing the edges, so that it sticks together. Now I will mention, this takes some time to do all of these, but it is definitely worth it. When you are done, you will have 30 adorable wontons, as pictured below:

Now comes the next step. bring your seasoned soup to a rolling boil. Carefully, put the wontons in the pot. Let it boil for a few minutes, stirring as you would pasta. When the wontons float to the top, they are ready. I Cut one in half just to make sure it is fully cooked, because I didn't think just a few minutes would cook meat, but it did! 

This is how they looked right after cooking. So amazing. The mistake I made was getting over-excited and cooking the wontons way too early in the day. The wontons did get a little too puffy from sitting in liquid, but regardless, this soup was delicious. The flavour from the meat mixture seeped into the soup giving it just that perfect Asian flair. 

That's all for now folks!

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