Chef Jenny Dorsey is at home making Spam wontons, a snackable treat filled with Chinese flavors. Jenny uses Spam from her pantry to make a rich filling, along with leeks, maitake (hen-of-the-wood) mushrooms, Chinese celery, and shepherd’s purse greens. She demonstrates how to wrap a wonton and makes a flavor-packed chili oil sauce to put on top.
Prep time: 25 minutes
Total time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
for the chili oil:
2 cups plus 2 teaspoons|510 ml vegetable oil
1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
½ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
½ teaspoon hing powder
12 garlic cloves, sliced
5 star anise pods
½ small onion, sliced
1 (5-inch) piece ginger, peeled, sliced
12 dried tianjin red chili
6 dried byadgi chili
½ can SPAM original (about 6 ounces|170 grams)
2 scallions, roughly chopped
fish sauce, to taste
granulated sugar, to taste
rice vinegar, to taste
kosher salt, to taste ADVERTISEMENT
for the wonton filling:
1 (12-ounce|340 gram) can SPAM brand original, diced
4 tablespoons|60 ml vegetable oil
soy sauce, as needed
mirin, as needed
6 garlic cloves, sliced
1 leek, whites only, halved, thinly sliced
1 cup|75 grams maitake mushroom, chopped
kosher salt, to taste
1 (10-ounce|283 gram) bag frozen shepherd’s purse, thawed, squeezed, roughly chopped (can substitute frozen spinach)
4 ribs chopped Chinese celery
fish sauce, to taste
maple syrup, to taste
ground white pepper, to taste
white balsamic vinegar, to taste
65 square wonton wrappers
finely chopped dill, to serve
- Make the chili oil: Heat the 2 cups oil in a medium saucepan until a thermometer reads 350°F. Add the fennel seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, hing powder, 6 garlic cloves, star anise, onion, and 3-inches ginger and cook until fragrant and the onion is golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and infuse for 20 minutes, then strain, discarding solids.
- Heat the oven to 200°F. Toss the chilies with 2 teaspoons of the oil on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake until fragrant and lightly toasted, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool completely, then grind to a fine powder.
- Place the SPAM in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until crumbly. Transfer to a bowl with the chili powder.
- Pulse the remaining garlic and ginger and the scallions in the food processor until fine, then transfer to the bowl with the SPAM. Stir into the infused oil and season with the fish sauce, sugar, rice vinegar, and salt.
- Make the wonton filling: Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium. Add the SPAM and cook until lightly golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Add soy sauce and mirin to taste, sautéing until well caramelized, another 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to food processor and pulse until crumbly.
- Heat the remaining oil in the skillet and add the garlic and leek. Cook until golden, 4 minutes, then stir in the mushrooms. Cook until crisp, 4 minutes, then season with salt. Transfer to the bowl of the food processor with the shepherd’s purse and Chinese celery and pulse until fine. Transfer to the bowl with the SPAM and season to taste with the fish sauce, maple syrup, white pepper, and balsamic.
- To form the wontons, take a wonton wrapper, and using your fingers, dab the edges of the wrapper with water. Place about 2 teaspoons of filling in the middle of the wrapper, then fold in half to create a rectangle. Grasp the bottom corners of the rectangle (the filling side, not the seam side), and dab one of the corners with a little water. Bring the two corners together and squeeze to seal. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.
- To serve, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Working in batches, add the wontons and cook until the wrapper is translucent, 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a serving platter and spoon over some of the prepared chili sauce. Sprinkle with dill and get into it.