Even though I'm Asian I almost never make dumplings. Luckily, I live near many Asian restaurants that serve delicious homemade dumplings, so why bother? But the other day I had an idea to make dumplings with a type of squash so I knew the time had come. It was finally time to dig deep into my roots and make some chicken and kabocha squash wontons with sweet chili sauce. I'll admit, they were a pain to make. But the flavors were so unique and delicious that it was all worth it at the end!
Chicken and Kabocha Squash Wontons with Sweet Chili Sauce
Chicken and kabocha squash wontons
- 1 small kabocha squash
- 14 ounces ground chicken
- 4 scallions finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons minced ginger
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 large egg white lighten beaten
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- ½ teaspoon coriander
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 40-50 wonton wraps
Sweet chili sauce
- ½ cup homemade chili oil
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons black vinegar
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 garlic cloves finely grated
- 1 scallion sliced
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Place kabocha squash on a baking sheet and roast in oven until a knife can easily pierce through. Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds. Scoop out 1 cup of the squash meat, reserving the rest for another time. Mash squash until smooth and let cool.
- Make sweet chili sauce. Combine chili oil with soy sauce, black vinegar, sugar, and garlic cloves in a small pot. Bring to a simmer over low heat and simmer until sugar has melted, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine mashed squash with ground chicken, scallions, ginger, garlic, egg white, Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, sesame oil, coriander, salt, pepper, and cinnamon. Mix until well combined.
- Assemble wontons. Working with one wonton wrapper at a time, place 2 teaspoons filling in the center. Brush water around the edges with your finger and gather the four corners towards the center to create little pouches. Pinch to seal. Place on a lined baking sheet lightly dusted with flour and repeat with remaining wraps and filling.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add wontons a few at a time and cook until they float to the surface. Remove with a slotted spoon.
- Spoon a generous amount of sweet chili sauce in the bottom of a serving bowl. Place wontons on top and drizzle extra sauce on top. Garnish with sliced scallions and sesame seeds. Serve immediately.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
Spicy wontons are one of my favorite dumpling dishes. The spicy chili sauce that coats the wontons adds so much flavor, not just spiciness, and makes the overall dish infinitely better. And so I decided to take that concept and apply it to these chicken and kabocha squash wontons.
Normally when you make dumplings, you can just mix all of the ingredients together and stuff them in a wonton wrapper. In this case, we have to take it one step further. We need to first cook the kabocha squash since it takes much longer to cook.
You only need 1 cup mashed kabocha squash for this recipe; however, peeling and cutting a raw kabocha squash can be difficult, to say the least. To make it a little easier, roast one whole small squash, measure 1 cup of the flesh, and reserve the rest for another use.
Let the squash cool before combining it with the other ingredients so that the heat doesn't accidentally cook the egg white or ground chicken. You can also roast and mash the squash the day before.
While the squash is roasting, make the sweet chili sauce. If you want the best tasting sweet chili sauce, I highly recommend making your own chili oil like the one in this Szechuan style naan recipe. Homemade chili oil is more flavorful and delicious than storebought.
Simmer the chili oil with sugar, soy sauce, black vinegar, and garlic just until the sugar dissolves. Black vinegar is aged vinegar that has complex flavors of umami with a touch of sweetness. If you can't find black vinegar you can use rice vinegar but the taste won't be completely the same.
Wontons are typically made from pork but in an effort to eat less meat, I swapped it for ground chicken. Feel free to stick to the traditional ground pork if you prefer. You can also mix it up and use a combination of ground pork with chicken.
Combine all of the ingredients for the filling including the mashed squash, seasonings, and aromatics. To check on the seasoning, cook a small portion of the filling in a saute pan. It always pays to make sure the seasoning is right before making 40 wontons.
Grab one wonton wrapper at a time and fill the center with about 2 teaspoon filling. You don't want to overstuff the wrapper or it'll be difficult to close the wontons. Brush a little bit of water on the edges of the wrapper to help seal the edges together. Then, grab the four corners and bring them towards the center, pinching together the ends to seal.
This is just one method of making wontons. You can also create simple triangles by folding the wrapper in half or make elaborate bonnets or diamond shapes.
At this point, you can freeze the chicken and kabocha squash dumplings and cook them later. Freeze them on a baking sheet lightly dusted with flour. Then when frozen, transfer them to a Ziploc bag.
If you want to cook them immediately, simply boil the wontons until they float towards the surface.
Spoon some of the sweet chili sauce in the bottom of a serving bowl and place the wontons on top. Drizzle more sauce on top and garnish the dish with scallions and sesame seeds.
I was a little worried about how these chicken and kabocha squash wontons would turn out since I've had amazing wontons before. Fortunately, they were delicious! The subtle sweetness of the squash complements the sweet chili sauce perfectly and the seasoning is spot on. I would call this a success!
For more dumpling inspiration check out these mapo tofu dumplings!