Bonnie: Annie Chun’s recently introduced frozen mini wontons are something that I can rave about. I’m as surprised as you that I’m recommending a convenience food. But one look at the ingredient list of these small, round dumplings with a savory pork and ginger filling assured me that these contain the same ingredients I’d use if I were making them myself: wonton wrappers filled with pork cabbage, bean threads, onion, ginger, garlic, scallions, soy sauce and sesame oil. And they taste delicious.
(Annie’s introduced other flavors – Chicken & Garlic, and Chicken & Cilantro, but neither is as tasty as these Pork & Ginger)
Either pan-fry them or add them to a favorite soup. To panfry, heat a small amount of oil in a large frying pan, add the wontons, let brown, turn, add a tablespoon of water or broth, cover and let steam. They’re crispy on one side, tender on the other and as yummy (or even yummier) than you’d get in restaurants.
To make a quick dipping sauce to accompany these, combine equal parts of low-sodium soy sauce and seasoned rice vinegar — I used a spicy red pepper one from Nakano.
Nutritionally, any of these is fine as an appetizer. One small wonton contains about 25 calories, not including the small amount of fat used if you’ve fried them.
These are good enough to serve to company!
Bryan: If you haven’t heard of them before, Annie Chun’s is a San Rafael, Calif.-based company that offers a wide selection of shelf-stable pan-Asian foods. I’ve tried a number of its products before and have always been wowed by the strong flavors. It’s a great thing, as I’ve come to rarely expect anything good from packaged ethnic foods (though the rare Bite of the Best gems do thankfully, and consistently, prove me wrong). Annie Chun’s impressive litany includes a number of lines of all-natural products: sauces, noodles, noodle bowls, soups, sushi wraps and rice products — almost every offering a class act.
The latest direction in which this pioneering food producer is heading is directly into your supermarket’s freezer case. Get ready for a real taste of restaurant dining at home. I feel like that is always really the goal with prepackaged Asian dishes, and that’s really what has been delivered this time. Two new products will soon (if not already) be available: organic potstickers and mini wontons.
These are a perfect snack or appetizer. Heck, you can even make them an entire meal by tossing them into or over some greens. Annie continues her dedication to all-natural preparation; the 100% organic potstickers are available in two flavors, Chicken & Vegetable and Pork & Vegetable, while the bite-sized wontons come in Pork & Ginger, Chicken & Garlic, and Chicken & Cilantro. Dumplings are pork. There, I said it. Get your chicken dumplings off my plate! I’m just kidding. Well… sort of, but how could a team of foodies pass up on choosing the pork dumplings. C’mon!
You should try these, and as Bonnie has noted, you should panfry them. Great flavor, great texture, low calories. What’s not to like? Do be aware (if you’re not a regular proponent of a panfry technique), that you very well might get some smoke. Get the towel ready to fan the old smoke detector.
The potstickers have a suggested price of $4.49 per 7.6-ounce package, while the wontons will retail for a suggested $2.99 for an 8-ounce package. Cheaper than an appetizer out, for sure — and better enjoyed at home, in socks.
Eric: I love Asian food – or more specifically, I love American-Asian food (as well as European-Asian food). I enjoy eating Asian-inspired cuisine so much that I have my very own pair of chopsticks, and an endless supply of Asian cooking sauces and a wok that’s probably been around since WWI. When I heard that we would be testing the newest line of Annie Chun’s products, I eagerly waited in anticipation.
To borrow an example from the SAT’s, in the world of Asian-American grocery food, Annie Chun is to Asian food, as Ben & Jerry’s is to ice cream. She is iconic for the flavor and quality of her food, and I for one am a huge fan of her products. The newest line of frozen mini wontons and dumplings is of near-restaurant quality. Seriously, if blindfolded and presented with the mini wontons (pan-fried), I would only imagine they came from my local Chinese restaurant. They are incredibly flavorful, made with quality ingredients and well worth the price. If you haven’t tried an Annie Chun product, now you have the perfect reason.