I once did a dinner party for eight, and I took it on myself to cook Chinese.
Seventeen dishes (eight starters, Peking duck, eight main dishes, oh my I should have known better, but it did work. Fortunately) plus rice and noodles. A bit of a nightmare.
Made more complicated by one of the guests being a meat hater. Oh my.
So here’s something I came up with as one of the starters.
Here’s what you need
Mr Hong in the Chinese supermarket will be on first name terms with you by now. Live with it.
A packet of wonton skins. You’ll find them in the freezer. You can make them yourself, but it’s a heck of a faff.
A tin of bean curd in soy sauce. Not as bad as it sounds, since there isn’t much soy sauce , but it helps to make the bean curd cubes a bit firm on the outside, and helps when, if like me, you’re a bit heavy handed. Do not be tempted by fresh tofu. You need the texture.
A big bag of cashew nuts. Not salted ones. Just cashew nuts. Mr Hong has them.
Dark soy sauce.
Dry sherry or rice wine
A big clove of garlic. Maybe two.
Cornflour if you make a bish of things
Here’s what you do
Open the tin. Durrh. Tip out the contents into a basin.
Crush the garlic.
Shove a handful of cashew nuts in a blender, and whizz them fast for a couple of seconds. Do not reduce them to a paste. You need a bit of a crunch here. Pieces about the size of fine gravel are ight.
Another basin. Take about half the bean curd, and shove it in.
Add the garlic. Then perhaps add some more; your choice. I’m empowering you here. Mash it up with a wooden spoon.
Add about half a teaspoon of sugar, and some salt. Mash things up again.
Add the cashew nuts. It should be a fifty/fifty mix. About that anyway. Mash it up.
A tablespoon of dark soy should do it. Bit more perhaps, but don’t make it too sloppy. It needs to be firm. If you’ve made a goof, add half a teaspoon of cornflour, and mix really well. When you cook the stuffed wonton, the cornflour will stiffen things up.
Take a wonton skin, and pile a teaspoonful of the bean curd/cashew mix onto it. Moisten the edges of the wonton with dry sherry. Fold the corners up to meet in the middle, and pinch the other bits together to form a nice little parcel. If you’re being really flash, you can tie things up with very finely sliced red pepper, but that’s a bit retentive.
Carry on stuffing the wonton till you get bored. Two, three, per person is about right. Unless you have a load of pigs coming to dinner.
I neglected to tell you you need Mr Hong’s help here. You need some of those stacking bamboo steamers that fit in your wok. You can vamp it with a big saucepan.
You need some saucers that fit in the steamers. Cover them in kitchen foil, but upside down. Coat the now top, strictly the bottom, with sesame oil. Put the saucers in a series of steamers. Arrange the wonton, eight per saucer.
Boil some water in the wok, and stack the steamers on top of the boiling water. Steam for about two to three minutes.
Food of the gods come down to earth.
Buy some pickled chillies of Mr Hong. You don’t need a lot of them, but they keep forever and a day. Shove one into the beancurd/cashew mix before you fold up the wonton. Now that, my friends, is seriously very good indeed.