Chef Katie Chin: Heritage, Chinese Cooking and Chocolate-Raspberry Wontons

Taste Buds with Deb - Episode 55
May 8, 2024

“There’s incredible symbolism in Asian cuisine, but there’s also incredible symbolism in Jewish cuisine,” Celebrity chef Katie Chin, an award-winning cookbook author, caterer and playwright, told the Journal. “I love to marry the two.”

Chen’s husband is Jewish and they are raising their children – 15-year-old twins – Jewish.

“[My] twins had a B’nai Mitzvah, we belong to a temple, we observe the high holidays; I think it’s a beautiful religion,” Chin said. “We teach our kids to be super proud of being Jewish and also super proud of being Chinese.”

“Katie Chin’s Global Family Cookbook” features four cultural celebrations, including Hanukkah.

“I was really excited because my kids were in on the action; they helped to make the sufganiyot,” she said. “The recipes actually were contributed by my dear friend Faye Levy,

renowned Jewish food writer.”

Chin’s other cookbooks include “300 Best Rice Cooker Recipes” and “Everyday Thai Cooking,” as well as “Everyday Chinese Cooking,” which she wrote with her mother, restaurateur Leann Chin. The duo also co-hosted the national PBS cooking series, “Double Happiness.”

“[Food] is an expression of love, but it’s also storytelling and legacy, especially in my case, because my mother passed away when my twins were two,” she said. “I feel like every time I make one of her dishes, she lives on in them, through her memory and also in teaching my kids how to cook.”

After growing up working in the kitchens of her late mother’s award-winning Minneapolis-area restaurants, Chin moved to LA after college to pursue a career in film and television marketing. However, she eventually found her way back to her culinary roots.

“One day, I decided to throw a dinner party, but I had completely forgotten how to cook,” Chin said. “I kept calling my mom and asking her questions, and she was like, ‘This is ridiculous,” so she got on a plane with frozen lemon chicken [and] showed up on my doorstep.

“She cooked the entire thing, but let everyone think that I had cooked it, and then my friends were like, ‘Oh my gosh, you make this look so easy.’”

Shortly thereafter, the mother-daughter team started working together. Chin quit her job as a senior VP at Fox, left her then husband and completely changed her life.

“The biggest gift was through those quiet moments cooking, [my mom] opened up about her life in China and all the hardships that she endured being in an arranged marriage, being a marginalized business woman,” Chin said. “Through these stories, I really learned to appreciate all of her sacrifice and that all of those hardships she was able to heal through the act of cooking and … I felt like it was my responsibility to share and honor her culinary legacy.”

When it comes to cooking, Chin likes to put modern spins on her cuisine.

One delicious dessert is raspberry Nutella wontons. When Chin and her daughter, Becca, had a cooking series during the pandemic, they came up with this recipe, which is below.

“You can really put anything in a dumpling wrapper,” Chin said. “You can be as creative as possible.”

When asked the proper way to fold dumplings and wontons, Chin said you can always look on YouTube. Still, she offered some of her own tips.

“If you’re making a classic potsticker, make [it] like a loose taco, but don’t seal it,” she said. “The back half of the dumpling wrapper should stay flat and the front you make almost like an empanada; make little pleats and press the front against the back.

She added, “If you’re afraid to do it, just make a half moon shape. Nobody cares. It’s still going to taste delicious.”

Shumai, which is an open-faced steamed dumpling, takes a little more skill, but in time, if you keep practicing, muscle memory will kick in.

“That’s basically taking the round wrapper, spreading the filling  in a thin layer and then just gathering, almost like a pottery wheel going around and around,” she said. “Then naturally the pleats start to form on their own; it almost looks like a flower.

“It might not be that pretty the first time you do it, but you might surprise yourself.”

To learn more about Katie Chin, go to ChefKatieChin.com and follow @ChefKatieChin on Instagram.  You can also learn more about her award-winning one woman show “Holy Shitake!  A Wok Star is Born,” which is playing throughout the month of May 2024 at Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks.

For the full conversation, listen to the podcast:

Watch the interview:

Chocolate-Raspberry Wontons

Serves 8

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: 8 to 10 minutes

Raspberry Sauce

4 cups (500 g) fresh raspberries

½ cup (125 ml) water

¾ cup (185 ml) sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose cornstarch

1⁄3 cup (40 g) chopped fresh raspberries

2⁄3 cup (200 g) chocolate-hazelnut spread such as Nutella

16 round dumpling wrappers

1 egg, lightly beaten

Oil for frying

Confectioner’s sugar for garnish

Mint leaves for garnish

Make the sauce: Place the 4 cups (500 g) raspberries in a small saucepan. Crush the berries and add the water. Stir in the sugar and cornstarch and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and press through a strainer. Set the sauce aside.

Fold the 1⁄3 cup chopped raspberries into the chocolate-hazelnut spread until combined. Lay a dumpling wrapper on a clean work surface and brush the edges with egg. Place 1 scant tablespoon of chocolate-hazelnut raspberry mixture in the center, then fold the wrapper in half over and the filling, pressing the edges firmly to seal. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.

In a wok or deep skillet, heat 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm) of the oil to 350°F (175°C). Deep-fry the wontons until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes, turning occasionally. Place on a paper-towel-lined sheet pan to drain. Transfer to a platter and dust with confectioner’s sugar, then drizzle with raspberry sauce. Garnish with mint leaves and serve immediately.

Cook’s Note: If you only can find square wonton wrappers, use a cookie cutter to cut them into rounds.

Debra Eckerling is a writer for the Jewish Journal and the host of “Taste Buds with Deb.Subscribe on YouTube or your favorite podcast platform. Email Debra: tastebuds@jewishjournal.com.

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