~ How to Make: Baked Mini- Wonton Cups & Tacos ~
In my food world, I associate fun food with small, two-three bite appetizers and snacks -- I don't think I'm alone. Ever notice how folks always gravitate around a table, cocktail table or picnic table containing an array of small-bites, noshes and nibbles? We are indeed all in this food world together, but, it's small food that makes the world go round. It makes people smile. Real world fact: It is more fun to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich if it is cut into four triangles.
Like French puff pastry, the Chinese wonton can be used as a foil for many of the fine flavors the food world has to offer:
Wonton skins (also called wonton wrappers, and, also spelled wantan, wanton or wuntun) are an essential ingredient to a number of Chinese cuisines -- Cantonese, Mandarin, Sichuan and Shanghai (to name four off the top of my head). They use them to make a host of dumplings and potstickers that get served as appetizers or in soups. That said, just because they were invented by the Chinese, they are not exclusive to Chinese fare. I liken them to French puff pastry because both of them adapt beautifully to fillings bursting with flavors from all around the globe.
Purchasing & storing wonton skins/wrappers.
A bit about wonton skins/wrappers. Just like larger-sized egg roll skins, they're made from eggs, wheat flour and water and come in 3"-3 1/2" squares or rounds, usually 50 per package. I keep them on-hand in my freezer because opened or unopened they have an expiration date -- and a sort of short shelflife.
Wonton cups & tacos? Why not? They're a ton of tasty fun.
For those who don't know, these small squares of flattened dough are very versatile. They can be boiled, steamed, pan-fried, deep-fried and/or baked. When I bake with them, I usually place them in mini-muffin cups. When they emerge from the oven, they are brown and crispy -- pretty little cups, each one ready and waiting for a dollop of an interesting savory or sweet filling.
Making mini-wonton cups is straightforward: Lay one wonton skin on top of each of 12 mini-muffin cups. Using a wooden tart tamper or your fingertips, push each skin down to form a flat bottom. Bake in a 350° oven, until pretty golden brown around the edges, 5-6 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately remove from pans. Cool and fill with a savory or sweet filling.
Making mini-wonton taco shells requires a contraption: Place a 13" x 9" x 2" baking dish on a 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan into which a smaller, oven-safe baking pan has been placed in order to elevate one side of the baking dish about 2" -- this elevation enables them to bake "open" (a la taco-style) rather than hanging straight down, which causes them to "close" or "clam up".
Place the "contraption" in a preheated 350° oven about 10 minutes. Working 3 wontons at a time, drape them over the low side of the baking dish. Bake until golden around the edges, 5-6 minutes. Using your fingertips, remove them from the side of the pan (I just place them on my pot holder). Repeat this process until you've made as many wonton taco shells as you want.
Serving up crab Rangoon dip cups & Asian chicken salad tacos:
Special Equipment List: miniature muffin tin; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; 13" x 9" x 2" baking dish
Cook's Note: French onion soup dumplings came into my life late at night via a rerun of The Food Network Show: The Best Thing I ever Ate. The show visited a Lower East Side NYC restaurant located at the intersection of Stanton and Ludlow streets called The Stanton Social. The show's host, Claire Robinson extolled the virtues of their signature "one bite wonders": French onion soup dumplings. My recipe for ~ Ooh-La-La: Beefy French Onion Soup Dumplings ~ is in Categories 1, 2, 11, 21.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2017)