Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Fuzzy Brains


This is a very out-of focus shot of some wonton soup I made a few weeks ago. Using Flo-Lin's book and store bought won-ton wrappers, I made a bunch of little pork and shrimp pockets. Good wontons should wrinkle up around the filling when boiled.

In college, Abigail and I were obsessed with the wonton mee soup at Penang, a malaysian restaurant in Harvard Square. Their shrimp wontons were furrowed and juicy, and shared the broth with long yellow egg noodles and bitter chinese greens. When we took Mike to experience our latest find, he immediately dubbed the wontons "brains," based on their pink wrinkliness. From then on whenever we wanted to go to Penang (about three times a week), we would say, "Let's go eat brains!" Though it stopped sounding strange to us, we got some seriously worried stares.

My other favorite wontons were at a little restaurant in Central Hong Kong, right under the public escalators that move people up the hill. This was a lunch place, and they only served King Prawn wontons in soup, with your choice of yellow egg noodles (mee), rice stick noodles, or no noodles. You could also get a side order of gai lan (Chinese broccolli) drenched in oyster sauce. As far as I can remember, a bowl of soup and a side of greens came to about $2.50, by far the cheapest lunch around. It was also the most delicious, with these huge shrimp wontons and plenty of hot sauces to mix into the broth. There must have been three shrimp's worth of filling in each dumpling, and it was pretty much just ground shrimp and salt. But they were super fresh and the long tables in the place filled up with business people and laborers every day. The menu was hand written in big black characters on neon orange paper, and you had to put in your order quickly and sit down at a table to wait for it to avoid being yelled at by the ladies whose job it was to sling out as much soup as possible. With all the trendy and expensive places around, the wonton shop was truly special. And, just around the corner, a street vendor sold dou fu fa, tofu flower, which is a soft and silky tofu floating in sweet sauce, served in this case in little styrofoam bowls, the perfect dessert.

Next time I make wontons, I'm leaving out the pork and sticking to shrimp and seasonings, and bringing home some egg noodles to add to the broth.

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