A bevy of 10 eager ladies started the new-year with a very health-conscious cookery group. Led by self-styled “home cook” Irene, she decided to make a vegetarian dish, Won Ton soup. The group was part of a new series where community members share their favourite recipe with other centre members. Irene explained that her version of the recipe adds cumin to the traditionally Chinese dish, giving it a Malaysian twist – as spices are an essential part of Malaysian cooking.
Irene confidently took to the floor and paired the chefs up. The vegetables – carrots, parsnips, garlic and onions – would need to be safely peeled and chopped, “then everyone is going to do the Won-Ton” she explained.
Won-Ton means “dumpling” in Chinese and Irene showed the group how to make neat pastry parcels with a quorn filling. Irene decided to use diced Quorn pieces because they were the ideal size for the square sheets of pastry wrapper to go round. She said the folding technique was just like wrapping a gift, with each of the 50 pastry sheets sealed with some water. Two cooks, Grace and Elena, said that they had made spring-roll wraps before, so they perhaps had a head-start on the others, but all members of the group happily produced their share of the “dumplings” batch.
The vegetables gave a wonderful medley of colour. Preparing them presented quite a chopping challenge though! Irene had very specific instructions for the group, who busily set about cutting the carrots and parsnips into slender “matchstick-size pieces”, finely-chopped garlic and small onion cubes.
The vegetables were then added to a saucepan to cook and also to produce stock for the soup. Most of the dumplings were added too. The onions and garlic were gently fried in about a quarter of an inch of sesame oil, with coriander and cumin and added to the stock. At the right time the vegetables were strained and placed in serving bowls as were the vermicelli noodles which had been soaked to soften them, roughly cut with a pair of scissors, and then added to a serving bowl. The soup was delicious, mild and sweet and a wonderful texture as all the ingredients combined.
A separate dish was made from a small number of dumpling that were set aside. These were fried in the remaining oil and were tasted by dipping in sweet chilli sauce. Fried egg noodles completed this dish. All-in-all a wonderful lunch-time meal was enjoyed by the cooks, Irene and the three observers who watched the two-hour session take place. Inspired by the occasion, Chanda offered to be the next volunteer to share her favourite recipe and lead a group on: – how to cook onion bhajis! If you would like to book onto this cooking group or would like to share your favourite recipe with fellow centre members, please contact Laura.