My small motor skills have never been something to be proud of. I pretty much failed cut and paste as a kindergartner (though I was the only kid who came into the classroom reading, so I think I had my priorities in order). I would have been a straight-A student throughout elementary school had it not been for blasted “penmanship.” Yes, kiddos. Handwriting used to count before household computers became more plentiful and commonplace than TVs. Now I feel old.
Though my handwriting is legible these days (my boss actually called it “nice.” I’m still reeling from that), my small motor skills have hardly improved. I still don’t totally color in the lines, and when I have to fold my laundry…well, I think my sister’s exact words were “You are the worst folder EVER!” Apparently my tenure in the retail clothing world didn’t provide me with any improvement.
In spite of my being aware of my lack of folding skills, I attempted to make wontons the other night.
At no point did I think, “Hey, Lauren? You know, you’re really a pretty good cook. So don’t take this the wrong way…but this is a horrible idea. I mean, you know you can’t fold a paper airplane, right?”, until I was standing at my kitchen counter, looking at my stack of wonton wrappers. But at that point, the filling had been prepared, the wrappers had been purchased, and Colin and I were hungry. There was no turning back.
This harebrained wonton idea came after visiting my sister and brother-in-law over the Fourth of July holiday. We went to this awesome little restaurant, The Hops Spot, which boasts some great dishes and even better beers. It’s the perfect little lakeside joint.
Anyway, of the myriad different things we sampled from the menu (perch BLT? Moules frites? Sa-wooooon), we ordered pulled pork wontons as an appetizer. I’ve always seen pulled pork as something dripping with tomato-based BBQ sauce, to be piled on sandwich rolls along with crunchy coleslaw. Not something that meshes well with a wasabi-soy dipping sauce. But good lord, they made it happen.
Naturally, I got the notion in my head that I, too, would make it happen, and that the next time I had a hankering for pulled pork wontons, I wouldn’t need to take a six-hour car ride to satisfy that craving.
As you’ve probably deduced, the results were…lackluster. The pork was amazing. A long-ago-bookmarked recipe from Cooking Light, tweaked ever so slightly, did not fail me, but I should have stopped there. I should have served it with some rice and veggies, or yes, even piled high on sandwich buns. But I’m nothing if not stubborn, and I set to condemning little spoonfuls of that delicious goodness to their chalky, deep-fried coffins.
Now, they weren’t godawful. I wasn’t drowning each bite with water. Maybe I shouldn’t have fried the wontons. Maybe steamed, then sauteed so they crisped up slightly, these little dumplings would have been delectable. But my method, albeit speedy, once the folding had commenced, pretty much sullied the deliciousness of the pork that had ever-so-patiently marinated in my fridge overnight, then spent the entire next day filling my apartment with its mouth-watering aroma. Yes, I am aware of how cliche that sounds, but the only alternative I’ve been able to come up with is drool-inducing, and while that probably has more of a Lauren “flavor” to it, it’s just…no.
If I do make this pork again, the one change I’d probably make is to double the measurements for the marinade. Because I had my pork in the slow cooker while I was at work, I wasn’t able to really keep an eye on the meat or turn it at all. So, the small portions of the pork that weren’t covered were a little more dry than the rest of the meat. Doubling the marinade would solve that problem.
I would highly recommend this pulled pork recipe to anyone with a slow cooker. I would also highly recommend using your slow cooker more often than I do, which is about four times a year. And as for wontons? I’ll be leaving those to the experts.
Pulled pork wontons (inspired by The Hops Spot, pork recipe adapted fromCooking Light)
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons dark maple syrup
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
dash of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 lb pork (some form of ‘picnic’ cut, shoulder or butt works)
wonton wrappers (available at Asian specialty markets)
oil, for frying
soy sauce/ponzu sauce, for dipping
Cut whatever excess fat you can off of your pork. Combine the first 11 ingredients in a bowl, blending until combined. Place your pork and marinade in a large Ziploc bag, and marinate for at least two hours (I marinated mine overnight).
Place the contents of your Ziploc bag in your slow cooker and heat on low for 8-10 hours.
Once the pork is done, remove the meat from the crock pot and pull apart using two forks. Set aside. If you’d like to heed my advice, stop here and just enjoy the pork you’ve been smelling for the past eight hours. If not, on to the wontons…
(DISCLAIMER: I watched some wonton folding tutorials and needless to say, didn’t have much success utilizing any of those methods. I warned you before about my horrendous folding skills. If you want to make pretty wontons, find your own folding tutorial and let me know how it works out for you.)
Fill a small bowl with water and keep it next to wherever you’re preparing your food. Place about a spoonful of pulled pork in the middle of your wonton wrapper. Dip a finger in the water and wet the edges of your wrapper. Fold the wonton wrapper in half, making a triangle. Press the edges together, ensuring your wonton is sealed shut.
Heat vegetable oil in a skillet or wok, then fry your wontons in batches. Frying each batch took about a minute or two.
Serve with rice.