Crispy Wontons

Crispy Wontons

Crispy Wontons piled high in a brown bowl resting on a red napkin with a dark background.

Crispy Wontons

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I’m a PIG! At least that what my friend and co-worker Yanan tells me, and who knows the Chinese zodiac better than a person born and raised in China? It’s a lucky sign/animal Yanan tells me, but being called a pig certainly doesn’t have the best ring to it. However, I must confess I have been known to be a little piggish when it comes to food LOL! Today’s Crispy Wontons are inspired by Yanan and the upcoming Chinese New Year on February 12th.

Wontons wrapped three ways on a wooden cutting board demonstrating pork wontons for the Crispy Wontons recipe.

Yanan can make the best pork dumplings and steamed buns and has been my inspiration and guidance for this post. She is always willing to teach, lend a helping hand, and has a huge heart. I can say with some honesty that my wonton making has improved with her recommendations and practice from making this post. However, it will be some time, if ever, that I can proclaim to be a pro at Chinese cooking. I will at least say it is fun to practice!

Yanan and her family immigrated from China to Quebec, Canada in 1999. They had to learn French in a French-speaking province, find employment and make their way through endless challenges in a new country. Yanan was a teacher in China and already knew technical English, but learning Americanized English was a thing of its own. The slang, profanity and innuendoes still took some learning. The tones in the Chinese language are very prevalent when she is speaking English today. They provide a level of entertainment because her tone can change with each word, leaving you to wonder if she is being passionate, angry, or simply excited about something.

Crispy Wontons piled high in a brown bowl resting on a red napkin with a dark background.

From Quebec, Yanan and her family moved across the country to the province of Alberta. She found employment with the Correctional Service of Canada and eventually became a co-worker of mine. She is a joy to me, and I consider myself lucky to call her a friend. Happy New Year Yanan!

Crispy Wontons piled high in a brown bowl resting on a red napkin with a dark background.

Crispy Wontons piled high in a brown bowl resting on a red napkin with a dark background.
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Crispy Wontons

Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 52 wontons

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean ground pork
  • 2 tbsp Shaoxing Chinese wine or sherry
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped green onion
  • 1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1 pkg wonton wrappers
  • as needed canola oil

Instructions

  • Line a large baking tray with parchment and fill a small bowl with cold water.
  • In a medium bowl add all ingredients except wrappers and canola oil. Mix gently until well combined.
  • Lay 8-10 wrappers on a flat surface. Place approximately 2 teaspoons of pork filling in the center of each wrapper. Moisten the outer edge of the wrapper with water using your fingertip. Fold the wrapper in half diagonally, pressing lightly on the edges to create a good seal. Dab both lower corners with water and bring both lower corners across and together pressing lightly to hold. It will look like a bishops hat. Place prepared wonton on the baking tray and repeat with remaining wrappers and filling. Keep the wrappers and prepared wontons covered with a clean damp kitchen towel to prevent them from drying out.
  • Attach a candy/high-temperature thermometer to the side of a large pot at least 9" in diameter. Add enough canola oil to come up a minimum of 3 inches. Heat oil to 350°F.
  • Carefully drop wontons into the hot oil, about 8-10 at a time depending on the size of your pot. Cook for 2 minutes per side until golden. Remove with a mesh/slotted scoop to a paper towel-lined tray. Repeat with remaining wontons, adjusting temperature as you go to maintain the 350°F.
  • Serve immediately with plum sauce, sweet chili sauce or a soy dipping sauce.

Notes

-Wontons can be shaped in a variety of different ways.  I like to use the simple folded triangle method which resembles a bishop's hat, however, any shape will work. Three varieties are shown in the post.
-Alternatively, you can use an electric deep fryer set at 350°F to cook the wontons.

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Sausage and Fennel Cast-Iron Pizza

Sausage and Fennel Cast-Iron Pizza

Sausage and Fennel Cast Iron Pizza baked hot and bubbly and garnished with fennel fronds.

Sausage and Fennel Cast-Iron Pizza

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I say start the new year with pizza! Yes, that’s right, crispy, cheesy, flavour-packed Sausage and Fennel Cast-Iron Pizza. We can not make just any pizza, it truly needs to be a cast-iron pizza to start the new year right. It creates the best golden and crisp underside that you’ll ever create at home, and you’ll wonder why you haven’t been making all your pizzas this way. Most new year resolutions include some form of healthy eating, but I think the new year (because it’s gonna be great) deserves full-on, carefree, in your face deliciousness. The sausage and fennel combination has not only become my new favourite, cooking it in a cast-iron pan tips it over the edge of my pizza nirvana. So move over plain ol’ pepperoni pizza… grown-up pizza just walked in.

A cast iron skillet full of of ingredients for Sausage and Fennel Cast Iron Pizza.
Pizza dough, marinara sauce and fennel ready for Sausage and Fennel Cast Iron Pizza.

With the new year upon us, we have no choice but to be hopeful for a more user-friendly year. Even though I can consider 2020 a good year, it hasn’t been without its frustrations, and for many people, it has been a year of hardship and heartache. While we can’t eat cheesy, sausage laden pizza all the time, it’s a good reminder to enjoy a few of the simpler things that we can. It’s also great fun to create homemade pizza at home with loved ones lending a helping hand.

All the best in 2021, let’s eat!

Sausage and Fennel Cast Iron Pizza garnished with fennel fronds and cut into slices on a black cutting board.

Sausage and Fennel Cast Iron Pizza garnished with fennel fronds and cut into slices on a black cutting board.
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Sausage and Fennel Cast-Iron Pizza

Course Main Course
Keyword baked, cast iron, cast iron pizza, fennel, garlic, Italian sausage, mozzerella, olive oil, pizza, pizza dough
Cook Time 14 minutes
Resting time 5 minutes
Servings 2 people

Ingredients

  • 8-10 ounces pizza dough homemade or store-bought
  • 8 ounces Italian sausage about 2 links, casing removed
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil divided
  • 1/3 cup marinara sauce homemade or store bought
  • 3 ounces shredded mozzarella about 3/4 cup
  • 1/2 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced plus fronds for garnish
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • red pepper flakes

Instructions

  • Set oven rack to its uppermost position. Preheat oven to 475°F.
  • Drizzle room temperature pizza dough with 1 tbsp olive oil and press out to a 10" round. Cover loosely with plastic wrap.
  • Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a 10" cast-iron skillet. Add Italian sausage and cook over medium, breaking up any large pieces. Once cooked and slightly crisp remove to a paper towel-lined plate.
  • With the heat still on medium/low, immediately lay pizza dough in the pan, stretching out to the edges using a spatula or spoon if necessary. Top dough with marinara, then mozzarella, fennel, garlic and sausage. Drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and check the underside which should be starting to brown and crisp. Transfer pan to oven and bake until bubbling, about 10-14 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes, then sprinkle with red pepper flakes, and fennel fronds or fresh basil. Lift out of the pan and cut into wedges and serve.

Notes

-The dough will press out better on a wooden surface such as a cutting board as opposed to granite or super-smooth surfaces.
-I prefer a thinner crust and opt for 8 ounces of dough vs 10.  It is 10 ounces pictured in the blog.
-Makes one 10" pizza, however, a 12" cast-iron skillet would work too, just use the 10 ounces of dough.  There's plenty of topping, so there's no need to adjust unless you'd like more cheese.
-The original recipe from Bon Appétit suggests garnishing with fresh basil, however, I enjoy using fresh fennel fronds instead, but it's a matter of preference and both are delicious. 

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Affiliate Disclosure

I may receive compensation for purchases made through this site, at no cost to the purchaser. Compelled to Cook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com