The first food I can remember learning to prepare by myself is ramen soup.
Cliche, but true.
I remember Mum trusting me enough to boil the water, dunk in the packet, and feast on the noodly goodness five minutes later.
Ramen was the quick lunch option, the afternoon snack, the lazy weekend bowl for Mum when things got busy – odd, since she was such a renowned and prodigious cook, which is WHY, I think, she embraced the ramen.
It gave her a bit of a break from the stove, and could be cooked by a kid without much intervention.
She always contended, and rightly so, that ramen on its own didn’t have much in the way of stick-to-your-ribs-ness.
Thus, many years ago, she invented her own wontons – a frozen bag of which has resided in either her freezer – or mine – since then. In fact, one of the last things I remember us making together before she passed away was a stock of wontons for the freezer. In retrospect, I think she was making them so Dad had something he could make on his own, without her.
These aren’t traditional wontons you would find in a Chinese restaurant, but I would argue they are better…both because of the yum factor, but also because they are Mum’s.
Wontons A La Maria Recipe
- 1 roll of breakfast sausage – I like Bob Evans or Jimmy Dean. Get a good one, without too much fat…
- Spring onions, diced
- water chestnuts, diced small
- soy sauce, garlic powder, garlic salt, salt and pepper…the amount is entirely to your taste
- wonton wrappers
- one egg, whisked with water for an egg wash
In a bowl, combine your sausage, onion, water chestnuts, and seasonings to your taste. I usually include a healthy dash of soy sauce, garlic salt and garlic powder, salt and pepper, but use your own judgement. If ginger is your thing, toss that in there as well. Mix until well combined.
Lay out a mess of wonton wrappers, and spoon a small amount of the mixture into the center of each wonton. Then, lightly brush egg wash around all four edges of the wonton. Fold into a triangle, sealing tightly, then fold again to make a dumpling. Shape is highly subjective – if you find a good method, go with it!
Place the folded dumpling onto a piece of wax paper. When you have a bunch of them made and all as one layer, pop them in the freezer for a couple of hours to harden. Once they are well frozen, you can gently remove them from the wax paper and store them together in a resealable plastic bag in the freezer. Will last several months, though mine never last that long…
To cook, boil your water with the seasoning packet with the ramen. Toss in the desired amount of wontons (straight from the freezer – no need to thaw) and allow to cook for a few minutes. Then, toss in your ramen noodles and cook a few minutes more. Serve hot!