Pork and Wild Mushroom Wontons with Chinese Black Bean Sauce

This is one of the most popular starters in the restaurant, where I sometimes use a chicken mousse with crab as an alternative filling. Packets of wonton wrappers can be found in specialist Asian stores or on the internet. They normally come in packets of about 40, so you can freeze the remainder.

Ingredients


  • 2 tblsp rapeseed oil
  • 175 g (6oz) mixed mushrooms, finely chopped (such as shiitake, chestnut and chanterelle)
  • 2 shallots, finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 25 g (1oz) butter, softened
  • 1 tblsp madeira or port
  • 120 ml (4fl oz) cream, well chilled
  • 2 tblsp chopped fresh mixed herbs (such as chives, basil, flat-flat parsley and thyme)
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 225 g (8oz) lean pork shoulder or leg, diced
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 24 wonton wrappers, thawed if frozen
  • egg wash (made with 1 egg and 1 tbsp milk), to seal
  • chinese black bean sauce (to serve)
  • smoked bacon foam (to serve)
  • fresh micro coriander, to garnish

Black bean sauce (makes about 300ml)
  • 1.50 tblsp fermented chinese black beans
  • 2 tblsp clear honey
  • 1 tblsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tblsp dark soy sauce or kecap manis
  • 1 tsp tomato ketchup
  • 300 ml (1/2 pint) beef stock (page 253)
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Noodles
  • groundnut oil, for deep-frying
  • 100 g (4oz) flat rice noodles

Sesame Pak Choi
  • 3 baby pak choi, trimmed and leaves separated
  • 1 tblsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tblsp toasted sesame oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Basic foam (makes about 300ml)
  • 50 g (2oz) diced rindless smoked or regular bacon to the milk.
  • 300 ml (1/2 pint) milk
  • 1 tsp soya lecithin granules
  • sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the mushrooms, shallots and garlic and stir to combine, then add the butter and sauté for 2–3 minutes. Stir in the Madeira or port, 1 tablespoon of the cream and 1 tablespoon of the herbs. Reduce for 2 minutes, then season to taste and leave to cool.
  2. Place the pork in a food processor with the egg yolks, half of the mushroom mixture and the remaining cream. Add two pinches of salt and blend to make a smooth mousse. Place the mousse in a bowl, then stir in the rest of the mushrooms and herbs. Mix well to combine and season.
  3. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and keep it boiling while you assemble the wontons. Lay the wonton wrappers out on a clean work surface. Brush all the edges with the egg wash. Place 1 teaspoon of the pork filling in the centre of the wrapper. Don’t overfill or the filling will ooze out. Fold over to form a triangle, leaving the top flap edge 0.5cm (1/2in) away from the bottom edge. Fold the bottom edge over the top to stick down and seal to enclose the filling.
  4. The wontons are now ready to poach. Put them into the boiling water as soon as possible after filling them and poach for about 3 minutes, until cooked through and floating to the top. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain well before placing on a plate.
  5. When ready to steam, arrange the wontons in a single layer in a steamer and cook for about 5 minutes, until heated through.
  6. To make the crispy noodles, heat the groundnut oil in a deep-fat fryer or deep-sided pan to 190°C (375°F). Drop in small batches of the noodles and cook for 20–30 seconds, until puffed up and crispy. Drain well on kitchen paper.
  7. To prepare the pak choi, blanch the pak choi leaves in boiling water for 30 seconds, then drain well and gently pat dry with kitchen paper. Heat a large frying pan or wok over a medium heat and add the sesame seeds, then toss for a few minutes, until golden. Add the sesame oil and pak choi and stir-fry for no more than 30 seconds, until just wilted. Season to taste.
  8. To serve, arrange the sesame pak choi and steamed wontons on warmed plates. Spoon over the black bean sauce followed by the smoked bacon foam. Garnish with the micro coriander and finish with the crispy noodles.
Black bean sauce
  1. Place the black beans in a bowl and cover with hot water, then leave to soak for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, place the honey, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce or kecap manis and tomato ketchup in a pan. Cook for 1 minute, stirring, then add in the beef stock.
  2. Simmer for 10–15 minutes, until nicely reduced to a sauce-like consistency. Drain the soaked black beans and add to the sauce. Return to a simmer and season to taste. Remove from the heat and leave to cool completely. Cover with clingfilm and set aside until needed. Use as required.
Basic foam
  1. Place the flavouring variation in a pan with the milk and cook gently for 10–15 minutes, until the garlic has softened and is completely tender (if making the garlic variation). Blitz with a hand blender and pass through a fine sieve into a clean pan. Keep warm.
  2. Add the soya lecithin granules to the pan, whisking until smooth. Season to taste and bring to the boil, then blitz with a hand blender to create a foam by bringing the head of the blender from the very bottom of the pan to the top of the liquid. Use immediately.

Notes:

This recipe and many more are available in Neven Maguire's The MacNean Restaurant Cookbook, published by Gill & MacMillan Books and available to buy here.





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