Who does not like wantons, or shrimp wantons? Well I do and I especially like it with shrimp, chicken, egg or what have you; fried of course and maybe sometimes in a soup.; if I'm in the mood. This is a staple in any Chinese restaurant you may visit in Trinidad and Tobago. When you go to order you will , most of the time, hear someone asking for their regular order ...and a dozen fried wantons. I really love that crunch you get when you bite into a freshly fried wanton, dipped in soy sauce, ketchup (we Trinis love a ketchup in our food) or a homemade dip. Are you tasting it already?? Well I am salivating as I write this.
The Chinese/Asian Influence on Trinidad Cooking
Since this is my first Chinese dish I have to give you all a little background on the Chinese/ Asian influence in our country. The Chinese came to Trinidad and Tobago as indentured labourers about two hundred or so years ago. When indentureship ended, most of them started businesses such as shops, restaurants, laundromats, groceries etc.
I believe the most popular of the Chinese businesses now is the Chinese restaurant. They can be found at any street plying their trade, ranging from small and simple to large, luxurious and expensive.... This brings back images of the two vans that used to be on Henry Street in Port of Spain, up by Rosary Church; one blue and the other red and white, that used to sell around lunch time; tasted great!.....
I think the main reason Chinese restaurants have been widely accepted in the country is the price of the food. Most times you will find that the meals are cheaper than the other types of restaurants. I prefer to buy a Chinese style lunch for about $18.00 TT than to shell out $30. for K.F.C.
You would notice that I've typed Chinese / Asian and I would have to explain. In Trinidad we collectively call any Asian looking person, Chinese or Chinee. So if you're from Japan, The Philippines or from Indonesia etc. when you reach Trinidad, don't feel insulted if someone calls you Chinee. I once saw a doctor from the Philippines got angry when people referred to her as Chinee at the clinic, but then she wasn't aware of our culture. I hope by now she understands.......
Here I am going off on a tangent again! ..... Anyhow, for a lime my sister had, during the Christmas season, we decided to make a few homemade shrimp wantons. She actually worked at a chinese restaurant for some time and learnt how to make them, so you all are getting first hand experience to make this delicious appetizer. Of course, you would also notice that this dish has been trini-erized with all the local herbs that we use in our cooking e.g. chadon beni. So get out your ingredients and Chinee chopper (cleaver) and get ready to make Trini shrimp wantons. Enjoy!
Shrimp Wantons Recipe
2 packs wanton skins
2 packs shrimp (approx. 1½ lbs)
1 lime or lemon juiced
2 cloves garlic
5 leaves bandhania (chadon beni)
2 pimiento peppers
1 small onion
1 small piece of ginger
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 bouillon cube
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. pepper sauce (optional)
oil for frying
½ cup ketchup
1 tbsp. grind seasoning
1 tsp. mustard
½ tsp. pepper (optional)
To make the dipping sauce mix all ingredients together.
Wash shrimp in ¾ of lemon juice and a little water. Drain and squeeze water out.
Chop shrimp in electric mixer into a semi paste consistency. Pour other ¼ of lemon juice into shrimp paste. Mix together.
Chop all seasonings, garlic onion, pimento, bandhania in chopper until fine. Add to shrimp. Grate ginger very fine. Add to shrimp. Put soya sauce, bouillon cube, pepper sauce and black pepper. Add salt to taste. Mix all ingredients with a spoon.
Lay wanton skins in a tray or plate (any flat surface). Put 1 teaspoon or less filling in centre of skin. Use fingers to wet sides with water.
Fold into a triangle.
Wet the two bottom ends of triangle and squeeze together.
Fry in hot oil until light brown. Shrimp wantons with dip ready to serve
That's it; simple and delicious. Season greetings and Happy New Year!