Pork & Chestnut Wontons
Chestnuts have been treasured as a delicacy throughout Asia for centuries. Their sweet, gently nutty taste and toothsome texture pair beautifully with the mild flavor of tender pork, as evidenced by the many traditional recipes which use both ingredients.
Wontons are surprisingly easy to make, especially if you use ready-made wonton wrappers, which can be found in most grocery stores these days. Don't worry about making them perfectly on the first try; in cooking, you can almost always eat your mistakes! Rest assured, after two or three, you'll be turning them out like an old pro.
These savory wontons can also be added to chicken stock for a deliciously satisfying dumpling soup, or fried until golden brown for a crisp & crunchy treat. Wontons also freeze exceptionally well, so you can make a big batch and save some for later - if you have any leftovers!
Soak the dried shiitake mushrooms in warm water for 20 - 30 minutes, or until soft and pliable. Drain the mushrooms and cut away the stem. Chop the mushroom caps finely and set aside.
Spread the chestnuts on a baking sheet. Cut an X in the flat side of each chestnut with a sharp knife. Roast in a 400ºF oven for 30 minutes, or until the nuts are no longer starchy and the shells can be easily removed. Dump the chestnuts onto a clean kitchen towel, fold to enclose and put them into a plastic bag. Let them stand until the nuts are cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Taking the nuts from the bag one at a time, and pop off the outer shell, then the inner brown husk. Use a paring knife to remove any stubborn bits of the husk.
Place the cleaned chestnuts in a food processor and process to the consistency of rice grains and set aside.
In a bowl, combine the soy sauce, sherry, salt and pepper. Mix in the pork, scallion, shiitake mushrooms, chestnuts and beaten egg. Chill for at least 10 minutes.
Sprinkle a baking sheet with cornstarch. Arrange several wonton wrappers on a work surface, keeping the other wrappers covered with plastic wrap. Brush the edges of the wrappers with water and spoon about a teaspoon of filling in the center of each. Fold the wrappers diagonally over the filling to form triangles and press the edges tightly to seal. Bring the two opposite corners of the triangle together and press them to seal.
Place the completed wontons on the baking sheet and cover with a clean cloth. Repeat until all filling has been used.
In a large saucepan of boiling water, simmer the wontons over moderate heat, stirring occasionally. When they float, cook for another 3 - 4 minutes. Drain well, place in warm serving dishes and serve with dipping sauce of your choice.