Two of my favorite things to experiment with are seitan and wontons. Baking, boiling, frying, simmering, stewing seitan - these methods all make me incredibly happy. The same goes for wontons; stuffing, steaming, boiling, frying. Yum!
A friend and coworker of mine was coming over and we were planning on a wonton making party. I went to this amazing place called May Wah in Chinatown on Hester Street in Manhattan, which is nothing less than a vegetarian's paradise. They sell everything from soymilk and tofu to vegetarian duck, salmon and everything in between. And it all looks crazily real. When I was there I couldn's pass up the vegan crab steaks and the vegan shrimp (one of my favorite things when I ate seafood). On the way home I couldn't help poking the contents of the packages because they looked so realistic! The plan was to make vegan shrimp wontons and crab rangoon, another thing I used to love getting at chinese restaurants back in the day.
Armed with two recipes for the "real" crab rangoon and shrimp wontons, I set to work creating vegan versions, which ended up being incredibly delicious. When the Hubby came home from work and I told him I made shrimp wontons (remember he isn't vegetarian), he was so excited! He inhaled about a dozen of the crab rangoon and two or three of the shrimp wontons before asking if I was sure there was really shrimp in the wontons. Of course I couldn't keep a straight face and admitted it was vegan shrimp. He said they tasted amazing, just didn't have the texture of "real" shrimp, which I thought was just fine. Here are the two recipes I came up with, along with a dipping sauce I made for the shrimp wontons.
Vegan Shrimp Wontons:
1 16 oz. pkg. frozen vegan shrimp, thawed (see picture below)
1 1/2 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon shoyu
3/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup scallions, chopped
1 tablespoon arrowroot
1. Place thawed vegan shrimp in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Remove and place in a medium sized bowl.
2. Add the remaining ingredients: the mirin, shoyu, toasted sesame oil, black pepper, chopped scallions and arrowroot, stirring until completely mixed together - this is very important because the arrowroot needs to coat everything thoroughly so the ingredients stick together.
3. Place about 1 1/2 teaspoons of filling into the center of each wonton wrapper. Using a pastry brush or your fingers, dip in water and outline the four sides of the wonton wrapper. Press two corners together, forming a triangle. From here the design is up to you. For these, I generally then take the two corners of the triangle, dot it with a little water and press them together. While you are preparing the remaining wontons, be sure to cover the finished wontons as well as the unused wontons with a damp paper towel.
4. Shrimp wontons are best either steamed or boiled. Boiling is much easier and faster, so I generally choose that method. These only need to be boiled for a matter of minutes until they float to the surface and the wonton wrapper looks cooked. Drain and serve with the soy/ginger/garlic dipping sauce, outlined below.
Garlic Ginger Dipping Sauce:
1/4 cup shoyu
1/4 cup filtered water
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes.
1. Mince the garlic and ginger - this is done easiest on a zester grater. Place in a small bowl along with the shoyu, water and pepper flakes. Stir until well combined. Season to taste and remember that the garlic flavor will intensify as it sits, so be careful not to add too much.
Vegan Crab Rangoon:
8 oz. tofutti non-hydrogenated vegan cream cheese
1/2 8 oz. pkg. frozen crab steaks, thawed (see picture below)
1 teaspoon minced red pepper
1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon shoyu
1 scallion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
black pepper to taste
1. Take the cream cheese out of the refrigerator to allow it to soften while preparing the rest of the recipe.
2. Place half of the package of the thawed crab steaks in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until chopped in uniform size. (The rest of the crab steaks can be re-frozen.) Remove and place in a medium bowl. Add the softened cream cheese, red onion, Worcestershire sauce, shoyu, scallion, garlic and black pepper. Mix well until all ingredients are coated in cream cheese.
3. Place about 1 1/2 teaspoons of filling into the center of each wonton wrapper. Using a pastry brush or your fingers, dip in water and outline the four sides of the wonton wrapper. Press two corners together, forming a triangle. While you are preparing the remaining wontons, be sure to cover the finished wontons as well as the unused wontons with a damp paper towel.
4. There is no way around it, crab rangoon are best fried. Place about 1/2" no taste oil such as vegetable or canola in a sauce pot over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot and ready (a small piece of filling will immediately sizzle and come to the surface), drop a maximum of 4-5 wontons in the oil, being sure they do not migrate toward one another. Cook until golden brown on each side and drain on paper towels. These are best served with a store bought duck sauce. Best served piping hot!
Vegan Crab: Vegan Shrimp: