Don’t Let Yesterday Take Up Too Much Of Today

Every memorable hostess has a party trick; this was my mom’s. I fondly recall the days when I’d hang out with her in the kitchen, making what at the time felt like millions of wontons. Sometimes called crispy gau gee, these fried dumplings are filled with a deeply flavorful medley of meat and veggies. Growing up, they were snatched off trays at lightning-quick speed, and they’ll surely be the hit of your dinner party, too. Uncooked wontons can be frozen, boiled, and added to dishes such as Saiminor Oxtail Soup.


4 dried shiitake mushrooms
½ cup hot water
4 ounces medium (41/50) raw shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails removed
12 ounces ground pork
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
Half 8-ounce can sliced water chestnuts, drained and finely diced

½ cup finely chopped green onions, white and green parts
¼ Maui onion, finely chopped
48 wonton wrappers (pei)
Neutral oil, for deep-frying
Plum sauce, for serving
Chinese hot mustard powder, for serving
Soy sauce (shoyu), for serving


Begin by soaking the shiitake mushrooms in the hot water in a bowl for 10 minutes. Use a smaller bowl to weigh down the mushrooms, if necessary. Finely mince the shrimp with a heavy knife until the shrimp becomes paste-like; alternatively, pulse the shrimp in a food processor until the same paste-like results are achieved. After the shiitake mushrooms have soaked for 10 minutes, drain, press out any excess liquid, and finely dice the mushrooms, discarding the stems. Combine the shiitake, shrimp, pork, garlic, oyster sauce, salt, pepper, water chestnuts, green onions, and Maui onion in a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until well combined. Do not overmix.
Place a wonton wrapper on a clean, dry surface, arranging it so that points are at the top and the bottom. Place 2 teaspoons of filling in the center of the wonton wrapper. Dip your finger in a small bowl of water and use it to lightly moisten the two top sides of the wrapper. Bring the bottom two sides up to meet the top moistened sides. Press the sides together to seal. If desired, pinch the outer edges from the longer sides of the triangle together. Repeat the process until all the filling and/or wrappers are used.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with paper towels and top with a wire rack. Fill a wide Dutch oven or pot with 2 inches of neutral oil. Warm the oil over medium heat to 350°F. Fry the wontons in small batches until golden brown and cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet to drain. Repeat until all the wontons have been fried.
Serve warm with plum sauce or Chinese hot mustard paste (whisk together equal parts dry mustard powder with cold water until smooth) mixed with soy sauce.

Use the leftover water chestnuts in scrambles, fried rice, or any stir-fry.

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