Traveling the world through cuisine

A small trick to make a yummy treat

Jack-o'-lanterns

What is there not to love about Halloween? It’s a celebration of Autumn, an exploration into our fears and superstitions, and a reason to indulge in all sorts of fun. As kids we look forward to wearing costumes and begging for candy. As adults we might dress provocatively and attend lavish parties, or take children out on the very ritual we used to enjoy.

It’s been years since I’ve donned a costume for the celebration, as lately I’ve enjoyed a more laid-back Halloween with a good meal and some scary movies. For many years, the menu had consisted of at least a traditional bruschetta, some good bread, and an interesting appetizer that I could now foresee making the rounds on Pinterest.

First...a backstory

Years ago when I had started dating Zuzana, she took me to a rather elegant gathering at her friend’s expensive downtown condominium. The party had a nice spread of fine cheeses, breads, alcohol, and other munchies. What really caught my attention were these little crispy cups containing a few small pieces of chicken in them. They were delicious and just plain fascinating to a foodie like me.

Thankfully, Zuzana’s colleague shared her little secret. She took wonton wraps and placed them in a mini muffin pan, baking them into the crispy cup you ended up with. Her choice of filling was some Asian-styled chicken, but you could seriously put almost anything in them. From that moment on, those tasty appetizers became a mainstay when I threw parties as well as every Halloween when Zuzana and I would settle in with some good food, a fine wine, and a few choice horror films.

My original methodology was to buy a bottle of gyoza dipping sauce from Trader Joe’s and cook tiny pieces of chicken in it. You’re welcome to take that easy route, but for those wanting to stay homemade, I crafted a good sauce for the chicken you can try. Have a look.

Gyzoa Chicken in Crispy Wonton Cups

Gyzoa Chicken in Crispy Wonton Cups

Ingredients

  • 1 package of wonton wraps
  • 2 tbsp of rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp of granulated garlic
  • 1/2 tsp of ginger
  • 1/4 tsp of onion powder
  • 1 tsp of sesame oil
  • 2 tsp of sugar
  • 1 tbsp of cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp of canola or vegetable oil
  • 4 chicken breasts cut into small pieces
  • Salt and pepper to taste

You will also need

  • 1 can of cooking spray
  • Mini-muffin pan

Instructions

Baking wonton cupsMaking the cups

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350°.
  2. Spray your mini-muffin pan with cooking spray.
  3. Arrange wonton wraps in every other cup as seen in the image.
  4. Bake the wraps for 7-10 minutes, until you see edges brown.
  5. Allow to cook on a plate while making more.

Making the filling

  1. In a bowl, combine the rice vinegar, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, garlic, ginger, onion powder, sesame oil, sugar, and cornstarch. Stir thoroughly.
  2. Taste and season with salt, pepper, and/or sugar to your taste.
  3. In a wok or skillet, heat up the oil on medium-high.
  4. Place all the chicken into the oil and sauté. Move the pieces around with a spatula.
  5. When the chicken is nearly cooked, pour in the sauce and continue sauteeing until the chicken is fully done.
  6. Scoop a few pieces into each wonton cup with some sauce and serve.

Quick Notes

Be careful how long you bake the wonton wraps.  Too much and they'll go from light and crispy to dark and hard. You can also remove them carefully after pulling the pan out of the oven.  Allow them to cook off the pan so you can make more.

When making the sauce, be sure to taste it before you step away to cook the chicken. When I tried to learn to make this sauce, the past attempts ended up with way too much vinegar, thus I reduced. Taste it when you finish stirring it up, and feel free to adjust to your needs.  It will taste heavy, but that will chage when it's cooked with the chicken.  Your final result should be a tangy sauce with a little bit of fire from the red pepper.

Variations

With those cups, you could put almost anything in them.  Not in the mood for gyoza?  Try marinating the chicken, beef, or pork in teriyaki sauce. You can also go sweet & sour, or even make orange chicken as a filling.

You can take it beyond Asia.  Barbecue chicken, sauteed mushrooms, vegetable combinations with garlic and cheese.  The sky is the limit.

Tags: Chinese, appetizer, chicken, gyoza, wonton

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