Tiny foods are the best. Tiny sandwiches, tiny muffins, tiny cookies, tinier than average samosas, tiny, two-ingredient crackers—really, I could go on and on about my love of tiny foods. The fondness knows no bounds.
But what to make of the fact that making tiny foods can oftentimes seem like a never-ending, cumbersome task? There’s no way around it. When you choose to make 36 tiny sandwiches instead of 8 normal-sized sandwiches, you’re going to have to put in some extra time. But I am all right with that.
Maybe it’s because I am soothed by being in the kitchen, but the task of filling or folding or forming dozens of tiny little foodstuffs has never bothered me. Truth be told, it can sometimes bother my back and neck (because no matter how much I mentally enjoy the repetitive motion of forming little cookies, standing upright with my head pointed down at a work surface is not the most forgiving posture), but that’s small price to pay for feeling so mentally sound at the end of a long marathon of cooking or baking.
Most importantly, however, is the fact that waiting for you at the end of your cooking trials is something delicious to eat. When I made these delightful little wontons, filled with carrots, mushrooms, and cabbage, and perfectly seasoned with ginger and mirin, I took that thought to heart. No, really. To test the recipe, I made a half batch of crispy, crunchy wontons, and then, when they emerged from the oven, I proceeded to then eat them all. Every single last one of them. At first I felt sort of sheepish about what I had done, but I soon got over it. They were delicious, I took the time to make them, so why shouldn’t I get to enjoy them? Up until now, however, my husband and son were unaware of what they missed when I made these, because I never told them that I made them. It was a stealth recipe test. “Was” being the operative word here, because now, having admitted to the world (and my husband) what I did, I must make amends and whip up another batch of wontons for everyone. And I do not mind one bit.
Baked Vegetable Wontons Recipe
Adapted from The Healthy Kitchen, by Andrew Weil and Rosie Daley
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 cup finely shredded carrot
1 cup finely chopped mushrooms (the original recipe called for shiitake or oyster mushrooms, but I used much more reasonably-priced cremini mushrooms and they were great)
2 cups finely shredded Napa or savoy cabbage
½ cup chopped scallions
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons soy sauce
24-30 small, square wonton wrappers
¼ cup toasted sesame oil, for brushing the wontons
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a large skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame oil over medium heat. Add the carrots, mushrooms, and cabbage and sauté until limp, about 5 minutes. Add the scallions and ginger and cook for another 1 minute. Stir in the mirin and soy sauce, and remove from heat.
Lay out 12 wonton sheets at a time. With a pastry brush, lightly brush toasted sesame oil all along the edges of the wonton sheets. Drop about 1 tablespoon of the vegetable mixture just a touch off the center of the diagonal middle of each wonton sheet, then fold the sheet diagonally so the opposite corners touch. Using the tines of a fork, press down the 2 open sides (these would be the non-folded sides) of the triangle. Fold in the two pointed edges that jut out from the folded sides of the triangle, and press them in place with the fork. Brush the tops of each completed wonton with a bit more sesame oil.
Very lightly spray or brush a baking sheet with vegetable oil. Arrange the completed wontons, about 12 at a time, on the baking sheet. Bake wontons for 6 minutes, then turn them over and return to the oven to bake for an additional 6 minutes, or until the wontons are dark golden brown and very crisp.