Bánh Gối Vietnamese Ravioli – 132 of 365

The Wonton Stand

Letting the city envelop me while exploring on foot has been as good a part of this food journey as sampling all the new foods along the path.   Plenty of work related trips to Hanoi have been giving me a chance to uncover another side of Vietnamese cuisine so different than Saigon.   Most of the time my quest for food has no specific agenda or restaurant in mind.  I follow my nose, order with my eyes and hope for the best.   Besides, who wants to sit in a boring hotel room when a curious mix of old Asia and a bizarre interpretation of the modern are just down the road.

While wandering around Hanoi’s busy old quarter, a narrow wooden stand set up in front of a toy shop got the best of my curiosity.  Actually this woman’s “shop” looked more like a crude plant stand with mounds of wonton looking shells stacked atop it, and I wanted in on it.  Curious to see what she would hand me in exchange for the equivalent of a buck, I walked up, just plopped some money down on the table, and waited for some action.

Vietnamese Ravioli

The wheels definitely began spinning in her head as she studied me with a strange look.  You can just tell when someone is thinking what the heck is this crazy western dude doing bothering me…Get him out of here…He’s scaring off my real customers.   With money on the table and a sale imminent though, she played along and a dollar even included a quick lesson on what to with the shells.   I don’t know; she could have been telling me where to stick those pasta rounds for all I know but in the end I had a stack wrapped in newspaper ready to take home.  About the only transfer of learning at her impromptu cooking school had been the Vietnamese words for “pork” and “oil” I was able to make out.

I found a few more random ingredients along my walk, borrowed a friend’s kitchen for a few hours and just came up with my very own recipe out of the blue.    These doughy shells called bánh gối are more for fried spring rolls I believe, so I wanted a healthier version.  They feel like fresh pasta so why not boil them like ravioli?   It actually worked somehow and my buddy and his girlfriend told me they were good.   Maybe they were humoring me, but in any case here’s my  very own Vietnamese-American fusion cuisine creation.

Vietnamese Ravioli

15 fresh wonton wrappers

1 pound lean ground pork

1 egg yolk

Large handful of Thai basil leaves, chopped

Large handful of mint leaves, chopped

10 water chestnuts, finely chopped

3 tablespoons of finely minced lemongrass

2 tablespoons of finely minced ginger

2 cloves of garlic finely minced

1 birdseye chili pepper finely minced

1 shallot finely minced

3 tablespoons of water

2 tablespoons oil

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon fish sauce

To use lemongrass, remove the outer layer and cut off the top half to top third of the stalk.  Remove the bottom tip as well and then slice the remainder into thin rings and begin mincing.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil.

Stir fry lemongrass, ginger, garlic, and chili pepper until garlic just begins to brown.

Add pork and water chestnuts; stir fry until meat is no longer pink.

Dissolve sugar in water and add fish sauce.

Pour into meat mixture and mix well.

Add mint and Thai basil and cook until wilted.

Add spoonful of meat mixture to center of each wonton.

Moisten outer edge of wrapper with egg yolk and fold in half.

Seal edges well and then fold edges inward about ¼ inch.

Boil until wonton shells are cooked through, about five minutes.

Serve with nước chấm dipping sauce.

As a side note, you remember nước chấm, right?  Are you curious to mix some up just like a Vietnamese chef?  Well it’s easy enough.  Just whisk together two tablespoons each of sugar, fish sauce and lime juice along with ten tablespoons of water.  Add in one teaspoon each of chopped garlic and chili peppers, and then round it out with a small amount of julienne carrots and daikon.

Bon appetit.

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Categories: Vietnamese Food

One Comment on “Bánh Gối Vietnamese Ravioli – 132 of 365”

  1. September 27, 2013 at 4:17 pm #

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