Three wontons in a ginger broth


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


Appears in

The Café Paradiso Cookbook

The Café Paradiso Cookbook

By Denis Cotter

Published 1999

  • About

This dish is almost all John Healy’s, a Café Paradiso cook, and a man who likes his food delicately flavoured and calmly composed to look at. We serve three tiny wontons in a shallow bowl of broth with a few carefully cut and placed garnishes. It would seem a much more straightforward dish if it was simply one type of wonton and the broth, and that might be the best way to do it the first time. But the beauty of it is in the three different shapes and flavours and how they interact with the subtle broth. Make the fillings in advance or while the stock is simmering. The quantities are tiny but two of them are very simple to make and the third, cabbage and tofu, just has a few more Ingredients. Both the broth recipe and the three fillings together make enough for eight to ten portions if you allow one of each wonton per person as a delicate starter. Two of each won’t kill anyone’s appetite, but don’t crowd the bowl or the dish will lose its elegance. And if it is to feed people, rather than to titillate them, four people would have little trouble scoffing the lot.


For the Broth

  • 1.2 litres water
  • 60 g ginger, chopped or sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • ½ fennel bulb, chopped
  • 1 hot chilli, whole
  • a handful of parsley stalk
  • a handful of coriander stalk
  • 1 tblspn shoyu
  • 1 tblspn sherry
  • 1 tsp salt

To Fill Ten Wontons

  • 100 g savoy or spring cabbage
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, ground
  • 1 tsp green peppercorns, ground
  • 80 g tofu, crumbled
  • 50 mls coconut milk
  • 2 tsp ground almonds
  • 1 pack of small wonton wrappers, 5 cm square
  • 2 tsps shoyu

To Fill Ten Wontons

  • 100 g oyster mushrooms
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • large pinch of salt

To Fill Ten Wontons

  • 100 g pumpkin
  • 1 spring onion
  • 1 small hot Thai chilli
  • large pinch of salt
  • a little fresh coriander


PUT THE WATER IN A LARGE POT with the ginger, garlic cloves, onion, fennel, chilli and the herb stalks. Bring it just to the boil, cover it and leave it on a very low heat for an hour or so. Strain the stock through a sieve and return the liquid to the pot - you should still have a litre or so of broth left. Add the shoyu, sherry and salt and, just before you cook the wontons, bring the broth back up to a low simmer.

Shred the cabbage into very thin strips, about 2 cm long and fry it with the onion and spices in a wok until the cabbage wilts and softens a little. Add the tofu and coconut and cook over high heat until the liquid has all but evaporated. Off the heat, stir in the almonds and leave to cool in a bowl.

Chop the mushrooms very finely and fry them briefly in a little oil with the ginger and salt. Leave to cook.

Boil or steam the pumpkin, then mash it. Finely chop the spring onion and chilli and cook them briefly in a little oil, then stir them into the pumpkin with the salt and coriander.

Lay a few wonton wrappers on a worktop and dampen the edges with water. Place a small amount of one filling near the base, fold in the sides and roll up the wrapper to form a parcel. Do a few at a time and keep the remaining wrappers covered to stop them drying out. Store the finished wontons on lightly floured baking parchment. Wrap the other fillings in different shapes so you can distinguish them later. A pouch-shape is good, with the filling placed in the centre and the four corners pulled up and pinched together to form a neck. Or sweet-wrapper style, with the two sides twisted to seal in the filling.

Prepare two or three thinly sliced vegetables as garnishes before you cook the wantons. Reheat the broth. Place the wontons into it and simmer for two to three minutes, then transfer one or two of each to the waiting bowls and ladle some broth over each. Place some of your garnishes into each bowl or serve separately at the table. If you are cooking a lot of wontons, it might be an idea to use a second pot to avoid overcrowding.