This little recipe is usually an appetizer, but it’s so good, you’ll want to make a meal out of it. Vegan wanton wrappers are hard to find, but it’s not hard to make your own. They’re not pristine and perfect like the store-bought ones, but you won’t care when the nori recalls the sea to your taste buds and the horseradish makes you glad you were born.
For the Wanton Wrappers:
½ cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
2 TBLSP hot water (not boiling)
For the Filling:
1 TBLSP canola oil, more for frying
1 garlic clove, minced
2 green onions, chopped
5 fresh shiitake mushrooms (or any other kind you like—oyster would be particularly good)
Slosh of tahini or soy sauce
4 TBLSP vegan cream cheese
1 nori sheet, cut into 2-inch squared
For the Sauce:
1 TBLSP Dijon-style mustard
2 teaspoons freshly grated horseradish
Make the Wanton Wrappers:
- Combine the flour and salt in a small bowl (a cereal bowl will do) and add in the water. Knead it until it’s a supple dough, a little bit shiny and fairly sticky. You may have to add pinches of flour or dribbles of water to get it right.
- Roll the lovely dough into a ball, dust it with flour, and wrap with plastic wrap. Let it sit in a quiet corner meditating for about half an hour. (Not in the refrigerator.)
- When its time has come, unwrap the dough and plop it onto a lightly floured surface. I like to cover my counter in waxed paper because it makes cleanup easier, but you flour whatever surface appeals to you.
- Knead the dough for about 2 minutes. It will seem springier than it did before its rest and have a quiet sheen to it.
- Roll the dough into a log about 1-inch thick and slice the log into 1-inch segments. I get 6 or 8, depending on my mood.
- Flatten the pieces of dough into little rounds with your fingers, and then hit ‘em with the rolling pin to make them very thin and about 3-inches in diameter. Mine aren’t exactly round and it still works out just fine.
- Another method is to roll out one big sheet and then cut it into 3-inch squares, and fold the little darlings into triangles over the filling. This way gets a less tender wanton, but it’s still pretty darn good.
If you’re not using them right away, wrap the circles (or squares) individually in plastic wrap and then let them enjoy the quiet and darkness of the refrigerator. They’ll keep about a week, so it’s definitely something you can do the night before.
Make the Filling:
- In a small skillet, heat the TBLSP of canola oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions and sauté them for 45 seconds or so, until they start to smell fabulous.
- Add in the mushrooms and cook, stirring merrily, until they’re tender.
- Add the tahini or soy sauce and remove from the heat.
- Add in the cream cheese and combine until thoroughly mixed. The heat will melt the cheese a bit.
- Set aside until it’s completely cooled.
Make the Sauce:
- In a small bowl, vigorously stir the mustard and horseradish.
- I made a second sauce (equal parts—about 1 TBLSP each—of tahini, mirin, rice vinegar, and miso, tossed in a little garlic powder and whisked until smooth), which is my go-to dipping sauce, but it was too bland for these little minxes. You’ll want the fire of the horseradish, so I didn’t include the recipe for the second sauce in the ingredients section.
Assemble the Rangoons:
- In a large skillet, heat about ¼-inch of canola oil over high or medium-high heat.
- Peel one of the wrappers up from its little plastic wrap so you know that it’s inclined to roam freely, and then set it down again. You might try stretching it a bit while it’s up in the air, just enough to get it roundish and about 3 inches. I tried loading them up in my hand, but the heat of my hands made the dough stick and we had to have a serious conversation about cooperating. So put the wrappers down again.
- In the center of your wrapper, place a square of nori. In the center of the nori, place a blop, maybe a scant teaspoon, of the filling.
- Wet your finger (I put a little bowl of water there to prevent wasting water or getting glop all over my faucet), and trace the circumference of the wrapper with your wet finger.
- Fold the little darling into a semi-circle (or triangle), pinching or folding the edges together. The water will help. Try to avoid the filling pushing its way out. It will be petulant and try, but you’re in charge here. The nori will fold in half on the inside and make a sturdy spine for the little thing, if you do it right.
- Repeat with the rest of the wrappers and filling.
- Fry the assembled rangoons in the hot oil, turning them over when the first side is golden.
- Let the finished rangoons rest in splendor on a paper towel and then serve immediately with the prepared sauce.