Sichuan-style Wontons

Serves 6-8

For the Wontons

1 lb ground lamb (substitute chicken, beef or pork)
2 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp ground white pepper
2 scallions, finely minced
1-inch hunk fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
40 square wonton wrappers

For the Sauce

5 dried hot Chinese red peppers (or arbol chilies), stems removed
2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 Tbsp sesame oil
3 Tbsp black vinegar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sugar
1 garlic clove, grated on a microplane
1 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted 

For Serving

¼ cup peanuts, roughly chopped (optional)
1 bunch cilantro, picked and roughly chopped

Equipment

Mixing bowls
Dish towel
Microplane grater
Parchment paper
Sheet trays
Large pot
Spider or slotted spoon
Medium saucepan
Heat-proof bowl

1. Combine lamb, salt, sugar, white pepper, scallions, ginger, garlic, and wine in a medium bowl and knead and turn with clean hands until the mixture is homogeneous and starting to feel tacky, about 1 minute.

2. Set up a workstation with a small bowl of water, a clean dish towel for wiping your fingers, a bowl with the wonton filling, a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet for the finished wontons, and a stack of wonton wrappers covered in plastic wrap.

3. To form dumplings hold one wrapper on top of a flat hand. Using a spoon, place a 2 teaspoon- to 1 tablespoon-sized amount of filling in the center of the wrapper. Use the tip of the finger on your other hand to very gently moisten the edge of the wrapper with water (do not use too much water). Wipe fingertip dry on kitchen towel.

4. Carefully fold one tip of the wonton wrapper across to meet the opposite tip to form a triangle. Seal edges of the triangle, carefully pushing out all air from within the wrapper as you work. Pull the two corners on the hypotenuse of the newly formed triangle to meet, moistening one with a little water, crossing them and pinching to seal. Transfer finished dumplings to the parchment lined baking sheet.

5. Make the sauce: place chilies and Sichuan peppercorns in a medium saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Cook, tossing or stirring often, until the peppers smell toasty and fragrant, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a mortar and pestle or a food processor and crush until it’s about the texture of store-bought crushed red pepper flakes, then transfer to a heat-proof mixing bowl.

6. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Immediately pour hot oil over chili/peppercorn mixture (it should sizzle). Let cool for 5 minutes, then add sesame oil and set aside.

7. Add the sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and sesame seeds; stir to combine. Set aside until ready to use. (Sauce can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks).

8. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 12 to 16 wontons and cook until they are completely cooked through, about 4 minutes. Drain wontons and transfer to a warm serving platter. Spoon sauce on top. Sprinkle with peanuts and cilantro and serve immediately.

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