Since I started eating a mostly vegetarian diet, I've been racking my brain to come up with a way to eat my regular foods without meat. I love wontons and used to make them all the time with ground pork. I figured I'd try it with tofu since I've got so many boxes of tofu stacked in my fridge. I also just bought a massive bag of bok choy so that went into it as well.
This dish needs some prep time but it's so worth it. I also concocted a tangy spicy sauce for it and it turned out divine. Believe it or not, fried wontons are typically not my favorite way to eat wontons. I much prefer them in soup because I'm a soup girl. However, because the filling is tofu and is therefore so much softer than minced meat, it contrasts nicely with the crunch of the tofu skin when fried. I did try these wontons in a soup and although the flavor was great, I felt the texture was just a tad too mushy.
Bear in mind that this recipe isn't vegan because of the egg in the filling. The egg is necessary as it acts as a binding agent. You can substitute the egg with some corn starch and it should still turn out delish.
Fried Tofu & Bok Choy Wontons
(Makes approximately 50 to 60 wontons)
For the wontons:
1 box of firm or extra firm tofu, drained well and mashed
5 to 6 dried shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted and finely chopped
1 stalk green onion/scallion, finely chopped
2 pieces of garlic, minced
4 oz. canned water chestnuts, finely chopped
1 cup bok choy (or two bok choy "trees"), finely chopped
2 eggs, beaten -- separate two tbsp. into a dish to be used for sealing the wontons (For a vegan version, substitute with 1 tbsp. corn starch mixed with about 2 tbsp. water)
4 tbsp. light soy sauce
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. of sugar
1/2 tsp. ginger powder, or finely minced ginger
1/2 tsp. ginger powder, or finely minced ginger
1 pkg. wonton wrappers
Vegetable oil for frying
For the sauce:
1/2 cup ponzu sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. Sriracha Chili Sauce (or less if you don't want it that spicy)
1 tsp. furikaki
2 tsp. sugar
Before you start chopping the veggies, you need to reconstitute the dried shitake mushrooms and remove the water content from the tofu.
To reconstitute the mushrooms, place them in a bowl and soak them in hot water for about 30 minutes. Since they float to the top, place another bowl over them to keep them submerged in the water. Set aside.
To extract as much water content from the tofu as possible, first remove it from the package and discard the water. Pat dry and place on a dish. Cover it with a dish towel or paper towels then place a heavy bowl on top of it. Set aside for 30 minutes.
While the tofu and mushrooms are doing their thing, chop up the other vegetables and set aside.
After 30 minutes, remove the mushrooms from the water. You can either discard the water or reserve part of the liquid (the non-gritty top part) to be used in your wonton broth if you're doing the soup version (gives it great shiitake flavor!) Squeeze the mushrooms to remove excess water, slice off their tough stems if necessary then chop them finely.
Next, drain the water that was extracted from the tofu and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Mash the tofu well with your hands. Add the chopped vegetables and the other ingredients to the mashed tofu and mix well.
Unwrap your package of wonton wrappers and place one sheet on a plate or clean surface. Put a small spoonful of filling in the center. Using a pastry brush or your finger, brush some of the beaten egg mixture along the edges then fold the wrapper over to form a triangle. Press down to seal firmly and remove air pockets if necessary. If they're not sealed tightly, you'll get lots of oil splatter when you fry them up and you don't want that. Make sure you don't over stuff the wontons either. I would say about a small teaspoonful fits perfectly.
Place folded wontons on a large plate, preferably in a single layer. If you need to stack them a little, make sure you don't stack them directly on top of each other because the centers have a tendency to stick after awhile.
When you're done with folding, pour about 1-1/2 inches of vegetable oil into a deep frying pan or wok and heat to about 300 degrees. You can check to see if the oil is hot enough by sticking the tip of a chopstick into the oil and seeing if the edges will bubble. If it does, it's ready for the wontons!
Fry the wontons until golden brown. It's important to control the heat when you're frying them. Keep it on medium heat and adjust as you go along as it's easy to burn the wontons if you're not careful. Flip them frequently so they brown evenly on both sides. Drain them on paper towels and serve immediately.
To prepare the sauce, whisk all ingredients in a bowl and serve as a dipping sauce or spoon it over the fried wontons.
! If you're not making that many wontons in one sitting, you can store the leftover filling for up to two days in the fridge. Always cook all the folded wontons as soon as possible because they don't store well at all in their uncooked state. If they sit uncooked for too long, even after just an hour or two, you'll find that they start to become "gummy" and will stick tightly to the plate. It'll then be impossible to remove them from the plate without having them tear.
You can also enjoy them in soup as I did.
However, the fried version rocked so much more, especially with the sauce! ~ Veggie Girl