Eight ingredients. That's all it takes to make an entire meal—or party plate—from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you've got a feast for family or friends. That's the philosophy behind our "8 & $20" feature. We hope it adds pleasure to your table.
Holiday entertaining calls for easy finger foods—fun nibbles your guests can grab without a lot of fuss. These shrimp wontons are perfect for just such festive occasions.
This recipe is easy to make and will yield a large batch, so you get a lot of bang for the buck. (You can also easily swap in another protein, like chicken or pork, if you prefer or to add variety to your platter.) Forming the wontons does take a bit of time, but it goes quickly once you get the hang of it. You don’t have to worry about making them look perfect: Once they’re deep-fried into delicious, golden bites, no one is going to be judging each individual form. Your guests will be popping them in their mouths far too quickly.
To fry the wontons, use whatever you have—either a deep fryer or a deep pot in which you can safely heat oil without too much splattering. In my experience, the wontons fry faster in the pot, but cook more evenly with the better-regulated heating of a deep fryer. If you’d prefer to do the work of cooking before your guests arrive so you can socialize, place the fried wontons on sheet pans, hold them in an oven on low heat, and plate as needed.
I’m not much for fussy plating, but for a walk-around party, I do like to give guests a visual cue as to what’s in the food by using ingredients in the dish as garnishes. Here, I used a little extra orange peel and slices of green onion to bring color to the plate and put a few cooked whole shrimp on the side to indicate the filling. From an aesthetic standpoint, though, you can skip all that; the wontons honestly look just as appetizing piled high on a platter.
When it comes to wine pairing, you get a lot of leeway with these tasty morsels. We tried three high-acid white wines alongside them, and they all worked pretty well. If you stick to that general rule, you won’t go wrong, so you should be good to go if you’d prefer to serve something bubbly to enhance the festivities. (Check out our list of value sparkling wines released in 2016.) We kept to still wines for this tasting, however, and tried a Verdejo from Rueda in Spain, a Garganega blend from the Veneto in Italy, and a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.
The Rueda was crisp and refreshing, and remained so with the food. Bringing together pleasant herbal flavors with orchard and citrus fruits, this clean white cleansed the palate after sampling the wontons, but didn’t bring anything new to the party.
The Garganega blend had notes of stone fruits and a little ginger, which worked quite well with the flavors in the food, and its lightly creamy mouthfeel enhanced the richness of the crispy wontons. This was a very good match.
Topping that, the juicy Sauvignon Blanc was bursting with tropical flavors that brought out the citrus and ginger notes in the wontons and left me feeling like I was on vacation–always welcome at this time of year.
Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Cooking time: 60 minutes (Timing may vary depending on the size of your fryer/pan and how many wontons you can fit in each batch.)
Total time: 75-80 minutes
Approximate food costs: $24
1. Combine 1/2 cup soy sauce,1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil, 3 tablespoons orange juice, 1/4 teaspoon of orange zest and 1/4 teaspoon ginger. Set aside.
2. Heat a small amount of oil in a large pan. Once hot, add the chopped shrimp. When the shrimp is nearly opaque, add the green onions, carrots and the remaining 3 tablespoons of orange juice, 1/2 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil, 1 teaspoon of orange zest, and 2 teaspoons of ginger. Toss to combine and cook until the shrimp pieces are fully cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer shrimp mixture to a separate bowl and set aside.
Note: If using extra shrimp for garnish, quickly cook them in the pan until opaque after removing the shrimp pieces.
3. Prepare the wontons by filling each skin with about 1/2 teaspoon of the shrimp mixture. Do not overfill. Brush the edges with a little bit of water, fold and shape the wontons, and press the edges well to seal. (Or follow package instructions.) Repeat until all the shrimp mixture has been used.
4. Pour oil into a heavy-bottomed pot so that the oil comes up about 1 to 2 inches. (Alternatively, use a deep fryer set to 375° F.) Heat oil until it has begun to shimmer. Fry the wontons in batches until they are golden brown, being careful not to overcrowd the pan, and flip the wontons halfway through. Immediately transfer the wontons to a plate lined with paper towels.
5. Garnish a platter with extra cooked shrimp, green onions and orange zest, if using, and arrange wontons on top. Serve with the soy-sesame dipping sauce. Makes approximately 42 pieces.