Year of the Rabbit Won Ton Soup
Where is my World Nutella Day creation you ask? Well my pantry has all of the ingredients ready and waiting to make the Nutella Lava Cakes with Creme Anglaise and Strawberries I had planned, but truth be told I simply just ran out of time. You will not be disappointed, or maybe you will, but MTBT is really trying to eliminate sweets altogether so maybe that wasn't the best plan for me afterall. Instead I will share what I made the very first day of Chinese New Year which is often referred to as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival. The celebrations began on February 3rd marking the beginning of two weeks of food, firecrackers, parades and traditional events. Communities all over the world swept away the old year and welcomed in a new one filled with good fortune. These celebrations have been observed annually in China for more than 5,000 years and are not only the most important holiday in China but also widely celebrated in other countries as well. Here in the Okanagan we can only hope to hit the nearest buffet or Chinese restaurant but we can celebrate in our own way when we share our table with our friends.
This year 2011 is the year of the Golden Rabbit. It is a placid year, very much welcomed and needed after the ferocious year of the Tiger. We should go off to some quiet spot to lick our wounds and get some rest after all the battles of the previous year!!!! According to Chinese tradition, the Rabbit brings a year in which you can catch your breath and calm your nerves. The Rabbit symbolizes graciousness, good manners, sound counsel kindness and sensitivity to beauty. His soft speech and graceful and nimble ways embody all the desirable traits.
So what is a celebration without food!!! Chinese New Year food is symbolic and represents good luck, prosperity and health. Given the importance of food in Chinese culture, it is not surprising that food plays a major role in Chinese New Year celebrations. "Lucky" foods are served through the two week Chinese New Year celebration. As an example Spring rolls resemble gold bars; so they are believed to bring wealth; lettuce is associated with rising fortune which is why lettuce wraps are often served; and noodles are a menu staple and symbolize a long life and are never cut.
So if you missed the fireworks and celebrations on New Year's Eve, don't worry... you have another chance to celebrate. Lion dances, sumptuous food and fireworks enliven the festivities throughout the two weeks so let's start celebrating.
So to ring in the New year I celebrated with another version of one of my favourite soups that I have aptly named "Year of The Rabbit Wonton Soup" for its ability to calm my nerves and allow me to take a breather. When is chicken soup not comforting in any language! Of course a great soup begins with a great stock and I am sure you have your own favourite recipe. This is even more true for clear soups because the holy grail of soup making lies in the flavour of your stock.
The next important aspect of this soup are the wontons. When a wonton is prepared in a paper thin wonton wrapping and stuffed with a subtle, flavourful filling that melts in your mouth you have reached nirvana and are on your way to utter contentment. The minute you bite into these wontons you are whisked away to a quiet temple garden and all the cares of the world will drop away.
Kung Hei Fat Choy!
And if you are still looking for Nutella, try these recipes of mine.......
Chocolate Nutella Semifreddo
Nutella Swirl Poundcake
Mascarpone Brownies with Nutella and Toasted Hazelnut Topping
**Year of the Rabbit Wonton Soup**
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 - 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1/2 - 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions, plus 3 tablespoons
4 cups (1 L) chicken stock
2 heads baby bok choy
2 cups (500 mL) sliced mushroom
1 cup (250 mL) bean sprouts
1 carrot, shredded
1/4 (50 mL) parsley leaves
wontons (recipe below)
In a large saucepan or soup pot heat the oil over medium high heat until hot. Add 1 tablespoon of the garlic and 1 tablespoon of the ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the 1/4 cup of sliced scallions and bring stock and 2 cups (500 mL) water to boil. Reduce heat to medium low so that the broth just simmers. Allow broth to simmer for at least 20 to 30 minutes while the wontons are being assembled.
Cut bok choy lengthwise into quarters; add to stock. Add mushrooms; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
Using your hands or a slotted spoon, gently add the prepared wontons to the simmering broth. Increase the heat slightly so that the broth returns to a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally (very gently), until the wontons float and the pork filling is cooked through, about 5 minutes. In the last 2 to 3 minutes of cooking add the bean sprouts, carrot, 3 tablespoons chopped green onions and parsley to the broth. Serve immediately.
1 lb. ground meat (pork, chicken, or turkey) or 1 block firm tofu
8 oz. chopped frozen spinach, blanched or steamed, water pressed out
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 knob fresh ginger (about 1 inch long), chopped
4 scallions (spring onions), chopped
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 package premade wonton wrappers (about 50 wrappers)
Place the wonton ingredients (except for the wrappers) in a food processor and blitz briefly, just until mixed. Scrape filling into a bowl.
Put a little water into a small bowl. Place 1 teaspoon filling in the center of a wonton wrapper. Dip your forefinger in the water and trace a line along two sides of the wrapper; fold into a triangle and seal. Place a bit more water on the two long corners of the triangle and press together into a tortellini-like twist. (It’s OK if these aren’t beautiful; they’ll cook just fine in the broth so long as the filling is sealed inside.) Place the finished wonton on a baking sheet. Repeat until all of the wrappers are gone; freeze the remaining filling for another wonton day.
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