Whether it is the north or south, beyond the Great Wall, west or eastern coast, wonton is one of the most popular foods in all of China, and indeed the world.
Not only is the form of the wonton different in different areas, but even the name is different. In the north and the Jiangnan area of China, the name is called wonton.
In the Bashu area, it is the same word as the one for folding your arms with your hands inside your sleeves, which is just what a wonton looks like!
The wonton from the local Chinese restaurant which Westerners are familiar with is the Guangdong wonton. It is also the same wonton that European and American TV chefs imitate and sometimes vary with their own innovations, such adding a whole shrimp with its tail poking out the top.
In fact, most of China’s wonton method is closer to the Italian pasta Tortellini. Learn how to make Tortellini, and you have the method for making the Chinese wonton.
The Jiangnan area wonton has two kinds: the large wonton and small wonton. The large wonton has more filling and is folded differently. Because they are more substantial, large wontons form the main part of a meal.
The small wonton is completely different, in that the wonton soup is the focus. Small wontons are snack size, and can be eaten on their own as such, fried and served as finger food or added to soup. You can save time by buying wonton skins from the supermarket, which is what I use in this recipe today.
Today I will share my recipe for the filling for small soup wontons, and how to fold them.
Here is what you will need:
- 250 g ground or minced pork
- 25 ml soy sauce
- 5 ml sesame oil
- 1 g salt
- pinch white pepper (<1 g)
- 5 ml cooking wine
- 45 ml water
- 8 g grated ginger
- 500 ml soup stock
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- ¼ teaspoon refined chicken lard
- 30 g fried egg ribbons (sliced fried egg)
- 20-40 g seaweed
- 20 g chopped green onions
Firstly make the wonton stuffing by placing the pork, soy sauce, sesame oil and cooking wine in a large bowl and mix well.
Add the grated ginger and a pinch of white pepper. Mix evenly.
The wonton meat mixture must be well stirred to a pasty consistency to make a densely textured filling that stays nicely packed inside the wonton pastry. Meat can be difficult to stir so adding a little water increases its stickiness. Slowly add about 45 ml of water to the meat, mixing quickly in the same direction as you do so. The taste of the wontons is dependent on the texture of the meat filling.
You should notice increased resistance as you mix and should end up with a fibrous looking texture as shown below. Achieving this result takes some patience, but it is important as it binds the flavor to the meat, and makes the wonton filling more flexible to eat, instead of a solid lump in the wonton skin.
The next step is to construct the wonton.
There are many ways to stuff a small wonton skin but the most common way, as is done in commercial production to save time, is by placing the wonton skin on your palm, put the meat in the center and scrunch it over the meat.
However, a more attractive way is as I show you below. The ‘pinching’ is important and takes a bit of experience to master. If you pinch the skin too tight, the wonton will not break apart in the mouth properly when eaten. If you don’t pinch hard enough, the wonton will open when cooked. I show you here a simple way to master the ‘pinching’.
First, put about a teaspoon of meat in the middle of the wonton skin.
With your thumbs and first fingers, push the dies of the wonton skin towards the middle above the meat so that the corners make a ‘cross’ shape.
Turn the wonton upside down, with the sides between your fingers, as above, and pinch the sides together towards the lump of meat. Make sure no filling oozes out.
Finally, with four fingers pinch the middle part of the filling to close it completely, and make sure there is no air inside the wonton.
At this stage, the wrapped wonton has four corners of the dough open, but pinched closed in the middle, and the filling has been pressed down by the fingers. It should be tight enough to not allow any water in when cooked. If water enters the wonton skin, the filling will come out.
Cooking wontons is relatively straightforward. In a deep pot, add enough water to allow the wontons to float and bring to the boil. Put wontons in the pot, only enough to form a single layer on the surface of the water. Gently push with a wooden spoon so they do not stick together. Boil gently for 3 1/2 minutes.
If the water bubbles too strongly, it will cause the wonton skins to come off, so add a large cup of cold water to calm it down if this happens.
Combine all the ingredients for the Wonton Soup, heat, and pop the cooked wontons in. Now you have a delicious way to serve wontons. Enjoy!