Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spicy Szechuan Wontons (Hong You Chao Shou)

So if you've made a ton of wontons or just happen to have some of the pre-made stuff in the freezer, why not digress and spice it up a bit? It doesn't always have to be about soup...Spicy wontons are basically boiled wontons that have been drained and then topped with a spicy sauce consisting of soy sauce, garlic, Chinese chili oil (layu), sugar, vinegar, scallions, and a wee bit of ground Szechuan peppercorn. And, if you've got some preserved spicy Szechuan pickled vegetables (Zha cai) on hand, even better! Just finely dice one or two tablespoons' worth and sprinkle on top of the wontons before serving. Yum!

30-40 wontons (figure 5 per person for appetizer, 1o for entree)
Click here for my wonton recipe 

1 tbsp. Chinese chili oil (layu)
1 tbsp. minced garlic (about 2-3 cloves)
5 tbsp. light soy sauce
2 tbsp. black vinegar
9 tbsp. water
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. ground Szechuan peppercorn 
3 scallions, finely chopped
2 tbsp. finely chopped cilantro

Chopped cilantro
Minced scallion
1 red jalapeno chili, seeded and sliced
1-2 tbsp. finely chopped Szechuan pickled vegetable (optional - not featured here in this post, but highly recommended)
Extra chili oil

1. Combine all sauce ingredients together in a bowl. Set aside.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add wontons. Bring up to a boil, then add 1 cup of room temperature water. When the pot comes back up to a boil, add a second cup of room temp water. Let the pot come back up to a boil again, and after about 20-30 seconds, turn off heat. This method is not my invention - I read about it somewhere, but can't remember the source. Remove wontons with a slotted spoon to a serving dish.

3. Pour sauce over the wontons and sprinkle with sliced red chilies and diced Szechuan pickled vegetables, if using. 

Cilantro, garlic and scallions.

Sauce: light soy sauce, chili oil, black vinegar, sugar, water, garlic, scallions, and ground Szechuan peppercorns.

Szechuan peppercorns, rice vinegar, light soy, chili oil.

Cook wontons for about 5 minutes, until they float to the top and are cooked through (using the 2 water cup method, as instructed above).

Top with sliced red chilies, cilantro, scallions, a drizzle of chili oil, and diced Szechuan pickled vegetable (optional).


  1. What became of your water cured olives?? I am about to start.

    1. Diana, our water-cured Mission & Manzanillo olives came out tasting pretty good - like your typical Kalamata-style black olives. I used these to make a batch of olive & sun-dried tomato tapenade:

      The Arbequina olives, which are smaller and more reddish-green than black at maturity, did not taste very good after water curing. They were very bland and, in fact, watery. This variety is definitely not suited for water curing, so will have to research & try another method. Good luck on your curing adventure - hope you will post about it!

  2. Wow, that looks great Arleen. I do all the cooking in our house here in Sweden as I'm not always thrilled with northern European food which I consider very bland. Let's face it, I grew up in San Diego raised around everything hispanic including the Mexican foods. I love Cilantro and lot's of it. In fact I'm going shopping right now for more of it. Over here in Europe it's called Coriander.

    Cheers, Kevin

    1. Hi Kevin, so no spicy stuff in Swedish cuisine, eh? I know almost nothing about N. European food, but now my curiosity is piqued. I'm also a cilantro/coriander freak - it's a staple in many Mexican, Tex-Mex, Southwestern, and Asian dishes, all of which I love. Even though cilantro is readily available in the markets, I like to grow them in pots or in the garden beds in the spring or late fall - they tend to bolt too quickly in the hotter summer months here.

    2. camissonia:

      "Hi Kevin, so no spicy stuff in Swedish cuisine, eh? I know almost nothing about N. European food, but now my curiosity is piqued"

      Well I use to live in northern Great Britain in the county of Lancashire in the late 1970s. The people there were so isolated from the outside world. They were mostly your working class blue collar folks. Salt was their spice of choice. I used to get teased by friends for putting my spices on everything.

      Sweden to me doesn't have alot of imagination either. Breakfast for most Swedes is sour-milk or yogurt and Muesli.


      "I'm also a cilantro/coriander freak - it's a staple in many Mexican, Tex-Mex, Southwestern, and Asian dishes, all of which I love."

      Yeah I actually go daily or every other day and purchase fresh cilantro. There is a company here in Scandinavia called
      Santa Maria who carry an entire line of Tex-Mex items. Their only competitor is another well known company called Old El Paso who you may have heard of.

      Santa Maria also is the one here in Sweden who has a complete line of Fresh Herbs which really have some kool packaging and I would imagine marketing. I don't know it they own their own greenhouses and grow these themselves or if they sub-contract, which is what most big brand names do in almost every industry, especially if they are nationwide or worldwide.