Today’s post is long. So very very long.
I wanted to post this recipe for Chinese New Year. This recipe really is a very special soup we made using Upton’s Naturals NEW chicken seitan product (that is hitting stores this week) and I was eager to share it. It’s literally been rusting away in my notebook for over a year waiting for the right time and product to try to post it with. But then life got busy – as it does. Emails came flying in for our new book tour and events coming up – as they do. Somewhere along the way I lost my spark to write really. Then last week something happened. Something sad.
Leonard Nimoy died. Now I never met the man or anything but as I said on Instagram… a lot of The Betty Crocker Project and Betty Goes Vegan were written and tested during Star Trek marathons. Like everyone, I grew up with Kirk and Spock saving green-skinned gals in a galaxy where no man had gone before. When I was on bedrest during my pregnancies and devastated from losing our daughter, it was Star Trek I binge watched and I have a lot of friends who did the same during their chemo therapy, broken legs and numerous other housebound situations. Star Trek was our buddy while our real friends were out in the world having lives and stuff.
I still to this day stand by the statement that the combination of Wrath of Khan, Search for Spock and Voyage Home can almost heal any broken heart*. If you flip to page 125 of Betty Goes Vegan you can actually find a Spock quote and this celebrity death hit me harder than I think I ever thought one would.
I know we joke a lot about Star Trek on this blog and our social networking pages but it’s only because it’s hard not to be envious of a world where they’ve eliminated the need for pursuing a career for money instead of following your talents and passions, world hunger is a thing of the past and the idea of eating animals is – well – illogical. I can’t tell you Leonard Nimoy was a great guy or anything like that but I can say he was a talented actor who brought to life this ideal world and gave us all a glimpse at what the future could be. For that alone – he has been and will always be our friend. He was also a vegetarian and a friend to the animals. I’d like to think he’d like a vegan wonton soup that strives to combine all the kindness and creativity his character Spock struggled to understand about his human side but that seems a little vain. I can tell you this recipe was everything I had hoped it would be when I first scribbled it into my notebook last Spring. It combines the fun of bite-sized dumplings in warm savory soup in the perfect way to recreate all the good things I remember wonton soup being. Using Upton’s new chicken seitan was great too – since I had to make the wrappers myself **because I can never find vegan wonton wrappers in the store. Using Upton’s made it so the time consuming task of making wrappers didn’t have to be followed with making my own seitan too…. which if many of us are honest with ourselves is the difference between making this recipe and admiring it from a distance. In a perfect world I could send you the data to set your food replicater*** but until then enjoy this recipe!
Vegan Sesame Chicken Wonton Soup
1 1/2 cups flour (you’ll need a bit more to flour surfaces)
1/2 teaspoon semolina flour (optional – does make the wrappers steadier in my opinion)
1/4-1/2 cup warm water
2 pinches of sea salt
Cornstarch for dusting
Sesame Vegan Chicken Wonton Filling
1 cup of your favorite vegan chicken or seitan, diced small (we recommend using Upton’s Naturals Vegan Chickn Seitan or Beyond Meat Chicken Strips)
1 green onion, diced very small
1 white mushroom, diced very small
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon ginger, minced
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon sesame oil
8 cups vegan chicken or vegetable broth (we recommend using Better Than Bouillon Vegan Chicken Broth)
2 small heads of baby bok choy
2 green onions, chopped
Fresh cilantro leaves and Sesame Seeds for garnish (we recommend using white and black sesame seeds to make it really pretty)
First thing you need to do is make your wonton wrappers. In a large mixing bowl, blend together your flours, salt and 1/4 cup of warm water using an electric hand held mixer. It’ll be sticky so use bread hook attachments if you have them. If your dough is very sticky add more water until your dough is firm enough to make a ball and you can touch it without it sticking to cornstarch covered hands.
Using those cornstarch covered hands, kneed your dough on a floured surface for about 1 minute and then cover with a clean tea towel. Let sit for 30-45 minutes.
While your dough rests, make the filling for your wontons by frying up all the ingredients in a wok over high heat until your vegan chicken has lightly crispy edges. This will keep your mock meat from getting spongey and flavor-less in your soup.
Remove our filling from the wok once it’s cooked and place in a bowl to the side while you cute your wrappers. We used a pasta maker to roll our wonton wrappers as thin as we could but some use rolling pins. If you want to use a pasta maker, set your maker to the smallest setting. Divide your dough into 4-6 equally sized pieces and dust each with cornstarch. Then roll your dough through the machine to get thin and even slabs of dough that you can cut into 4x4inch squares using a pizza cutter and a cutting board with line guides like this one or a ruler if you just have to have those perfect squares.
#vegan #diy wonton wrappers – in progress #vegansofig #thejoyofvegancooking A photo posted by Annie Shannon (@meettheshannons) on
It will take awhile to cut those squares so make sure your wrappers don’t dry out by putting them in a plastic bag right after you cut them and not handling them too much. This will also give your filling time to cool so you won’t burn your hands while stuffing your wontons.
There are A LOT of different ways to fold a wonton. China is a very large place and it would seem that different regions have their own favorite way to fold these cute little buddies. I recommend trying a few different styles of folding and going with the one that allows you put the amount of filling you like in it and works best with your thickness of wrapper. We went with a kind of envelope/burrito-ish fold.
To fill your wontons, place a little less than 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of your wrapper and with moist fingers wet the edges of your wrapper. Place your wrapper like a diamond in front of you. Fold the bottom corner over your filling and gently press the edge into any touching dough. Then fold the side corners over that and using moist fingers press those sides together and then fold the remaining corner over that. I know this sounds confusing. There are a lot of videos you can watch online if you need to.
After your wonton is all folded, use your moist fingers to press and seal any loose edges. This will keep your filling from sneaking out in your soup. Make all your dumplings and set them aside on a plate.
Bring all the ingredients for your soup except the garnishes to a rolling boil. Toss in the desired amount of wontons and let boil for 5-10 minutes or until your wrappers look like cooked pasta. Serve hot with a few pinches of sesame seeds and some cilantro leaves over the top.
If you have leftover wontons, you can deep fry them in sesame oil for appetizer or make another pot of the soup adjusting for the smaller portion. We had 3 leftover and they were lovely deep fried and served with the dipping sauce for the vegan Spicy Thai Chicken Wings.
* It’s Star Trek not magic. (It’s OK if you want to read that in an angry Dr. McCoy voice)
** If you are able to find vegan wonton wrappers in your area – you can also skip a bunch of steps and use the pre-made ones if you’d like. I mean if Julia can cook with a small battalion of helpers hidings in her cupboards you can use pre-made wonton wrappers.
***Sounds bad but in Star Trek – All the food is both nutritious and vegan because of those machines and no one goes hungry. I support that!