Once upon a time, long, long ago, I lived in Japan.
That was all many years ago now and a story for another day, but one of the longer lasting effects of my tenure in the Land of the Rising Sun (longer at least than my grasp of the Japanese language, which has all but disappeared with time) is the continued feeling of anticipation whenever I enter an Asian supermarket. Will I finally find the shochu and iced oolong tea with which to make the ultimate beverage of champions-oolong hai? Will I be able to rustle up enough meals which would be complemented by that jar of kimchi before it dies a lonely death in the back of the fridge? Will they stock (hushed tones) READY FRIED TOFU? Exotic varieties of mushrooms that you can’t find in Asda? LEMONGRASS, PEEPS, will they have LEMONGRASS? Will they just casually have it there, in the chilled aisle, looking at me with those taunting stalks all like “never find ME in Sainsbury’s when you want to make that Thai curry paste, can you?” Will they have that Thai sweet chilli sauce that makes anything by Green Dragon taste like watered down ketchup with extra sugar? Will they (whisper it) be making their own onigiri out back and putting UMEBOSHI in it? Will I finally find umeboshi in England, and if I do, will I ever really eat it?
Now I recognise that the majority of the foodstuffs mentioned above are not even Japanese, and the recipe I am posting below is not even remotely Japanese in either style or ingredients, but Japan, and its supermarkets with their stock so alien to the sheltered twenty-one year old me, is ultimately to blame for my interest in cooking, mainly due to the fact that finding vegetarian ready meals is difficult when you cannot decipher the ingredients list, so if one must be a vegetarian in a country where such foibles are considered to be a bizarre foreign and little understood phenomenon, it is useful to be able to rustle up a meal or two at home, using those unknown and frightening ingredients, and to educate oneself on the available produce in the process. And hence, with a cheap paperback cookbook produced especially for stricken vegetarian expats like myself, began my love of cooking, and my education in ingredients not found in my parents’ kitchen (translation: Most things that weren’t baked beans or the dried mashed potato product known as “Smash” that all 80s kids will remember-by the way I just checked and IT’S STILL AVAILABLE GUYS. Recipe involving Smash coming up maybe?)
Anyway, one of those ingredients my parents have never heard of (I checked. I was with my mother when we purchased them) is wonton wrappers.
Now, until the other day, when I decided to have a go at making Thai-style samosas from a Thai recipe book I have at home, I had never made anything with wonton wrappers. Indeed, for my sins I didn’t even know which area of the Asian supermarket they would be stocked in. Did they come dried, or chilled like puff pastry? Or would they be frozen? And if the latter, would I be able to prise one or two of them out and leave the rest in the freezer for another day? In the end, the choice was made for me, as on a hot day and with a long bus ride home, the frozen wrappers had soon defrosted, which saved me some time when preparing the samosas, but on the flip side meant that I now had dozens of unused little square wonton wrappers in the fridge, and a limited time frame to figure out what else there was to do with them. I did what any sane individual would do, and asked Chef Google for a little help and inspiration, and based on my research, finally came up with my own take on baked eggs; baked eggs in wonton wrappers. Quick, easy and very, very useful for using a any spare wonton wrappers you may have hanging around…..
- Wonton wrappers (one for each egg. I made three, as you can see below).
- Tomato puree/paste (a small quantity of tinned tomatoes would also be good for this I think, but I didn’t have any open so opted to use what was in the fridge and needed using up)
- Eggs (however many you want to bake)
- Grated cheese (I used cheddar. Parmesan or another hard cheese would also work well if you prefer)
- Dried oregano
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Grease a muffin tray with butter or cooking oil spray. Pre-heat the oven to approximately 200 degrees.
- Place a wonton wrapper inside each section of the tray where you want to cook an egg.
- Using a palette knife or spoon, spread a little tomato puree on top of each of the wrappers
- Break an egg carefully into each one.
- Season each egg with salt and pepper
- Sprinkle a little grated cheese over each egg, and top with a sprinkling of dried oregano.
- Bake in the oven for approximately 15 minutes, or until the eggs rise and the edges of the wonton wrappers are lightly browned.
I was pretty happy with how these turned out.
I think these would be great eaten for brunch, or for lunch with a green salad and new potatoes, but being a philistine (and parent to a very fussy three year old), I had them with baked beans and my homemade flavoured chips (basically potatoes, peeled and chopped, then mixed with smoked paprika and deep fried).
If you have any good recipes or suggestions for either baked eggs, or for that matter wonton wrappers (I still have a LOT in the fridge), hit me up in the comments below.