This recipe is chef Paul Liebrandt's interpretation of the classic. "They don't use a huge amount of lemongrass in traditional Hong Kong cooking; it's a Southeast Asian ingredient," he says. "But it adds great aroma and it's a nice twist."
Slideshow: Asian Soups
1 tablespoon peanut or canola oil
1 pound chicken breasts on the bone, skin discarded
1/2 pound spareribs or baby back ribs, cut into single ribs
8 green cardamom pods
3 black cardamom pods (optional; see Note)
1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns (see Note)
2 whole star anise pods
10 cups water
1 fresh lemongrass stalk, tender white inner bulb only, chopped
One 1 1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thickly sliced
1/2 teaspoon toasted Asian sesame oil, plus 1 tablespoon for garnish
1 red Thai chile, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon minced cilantro, plus 1 tablespoon small leaves, for garnish
Pinch of fine sea salt
12 square wonton wrappers
1 scallion, light green and white parts only, thinly sliced, for garnish
How to Make It
Step 1 Make the broth
In a pot, heat the oil. Add the chicken and spareribs and cook over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until lightly browned, 5 minutes. Add the cardamom pods, peppercorns and star anise and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add all of the remaining broth ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat, skimming off the fat, until the broth is reduced to 6 cups and very fragrant, 40 minutes. Strain the broth through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a large saucepan; skim off any fat.
Step 2 Make the wontons
In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients except the wrappers and garnishes. Arrange 4 wrappers on a surface; keep the remaining ones covered with a damp paper towel. Brush the wrapper edges with water. Place 2 teaspoons of the filling in the center of each wrapper. Bring all 4 corners of each wrapper together and twist the top gently to form into purses. Press the edges to seal. Transfer the wontons to a plate. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling; cover with plastic wrap.
Step 3 Make the wontons
Bring the strained broth to a boil. Add the wontons and simmer over moderate heat until cooked through, about 3 minutes. Spoon the wontons into bowls and ladle the broth over. Garnish the soup with the sesame oil, cilantro leaves and sliced scallion and serve.
The wontons can be refrigerated for 8 hours. The broth can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for 1 month.
Black cardamom and Sichuan peppercorns are available at penzeys.com.
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