Holidays and colds have put me a little behind these days but the kids continue to cook. I’ll round up our wonton week here and follow it up later tonight with our holiday cooking from last week and this week.
The first thing one must realize when cooking with kids is that your final dish will probably look nothing like you envisioned. You know those perfectly wrapped wontons that were demonstrated about six times? Not going to happen. What does happen is something much better and something the kids can be proud of. I just provided one rule: Seal the edges. Wonton shapes that came out were fabulous– from cinched up purses to envelopes. Eventually some boys decided their wontons were looking like spaceships, which became an even easier rule: Astronauts cannot be exposed to space! Seal them in!
“Is this correct?”
“Can you see the astronauts?”
“Then we’re set for take off.”
Our semester finishes at the end of January with a big party where all the clubs in the after school program show off what they’ve been doing with their time. Ceramics has an art display, dance shows off their dance and cooking provides the food for everyone with the 4th and 5th graders as servers. So far we’ve made butternut squash empanadas and the other week it was the wontons pictured above (our upcoming weeks are all party-centric). Most of the kids were really good sports saying how much fun it was to fill and shape these packets. (I told everyone they had to make at least 20 wontons.) Of course, some tuckered out, “planning for a party is hard work! Two more!” I told them. Some of the students even started setting up production lines: “I just made 10 at once!” My response: “Good job! See if you can now do 15 at once!”
The best part is that not only did the kids find these fun to form, they really enjoyed eating them. I had them grating ingredients by hand and while they were exclaiming how tiring it was, I caught many sneeking nibbles of shredded carrots and edamame. Once cooked, they were clamoring for more than their alloted two– “Sorry! We need to save the rest for the party!”
During the party, we’ll be frying these up and serving them with dipping sauce. In class, we boiled them, put a dash of miso in our water and had an Asian fusion dumpling soup that the kids dug.
Vegetable Wonton Soup
Makes about 60 wontons
1 cup edamame beans, shelled
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon ginger
6 scallions, sliced
2 carrots, shredded
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1/4 head of cabbage, shredded
1/4 cup tablespoons cilantro, chopped
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
Blitz edamame, garlic, soy sauce, honey and ginger in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and fold in remaining filling ingredients. Place a wonton wrapper on a work surface. Use your finger to brush the edges with water. Add approximately 1/2 tablespoon to the center of the wonton, fold in half, corner to corner, forming a triangle and sealing edges. Pinch the triangle corners together. Place on a cookie sheet and repeat with remaining wontons. Freeze the wontons overnight on the cookie sheet then transfer to a freezer bag or cook them to eat immediately.
To cook: (Fried) Heat sesame oil over medium high heat. Add in a few wontons. Cook 2-3 minutes each side until lightly browned. Serve with dipping sauce. (Boiled) Bring water to a boil. Drop in a few wontons. Boil 5-6 minutes. Add hot water over 1 teaspoon of miso paste (optional) and a few pieces of seaweed, stir to combine. Add wontons and garnish with chopped scallions and cilantro.