The Wonderful Wonton

 

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Preparation info

  • Makes

    10

    Wontons, or Servings
    • Difficulty

      Medium

Appears in

Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking

By Eileen Yin-Fei Lo

Published 2009

  • About

There is no English equivalent to the noodle known as wonton. It translates literally as “swallow clouds, ” and when made properly, the description is apt. It is important to know that the wonton is a noodle, not a dumpling, as is often supposed. Years ago, wontons were served only in noodle shops, never in restaurants or dim sum parlors. Over time, the wonton, because of its form, mistakenly came to be regarded as a dumpling. It remains a filled noodle, and a very versatile one at that. When it is boiled, as in this recipe, it can be eaten as is or it can be added to soups, its most popular use. It is even combined in soups with other noodles. One such dish combines wontons and a historical noodle from Guangdong known as jook sing mee, or “bamboo stick noodles, ” in soup, which you will learn more about later.

When making wontons, the wrappers, or skins, should remain refrigerated until 1 hour before use. If the wrappers have been frozen, thaw them and let them come to room temperature before using.

Ingredients

Dipping Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons Chicken Stock
  • teaspoons white rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons finely sliced scallions
  • Pinch of white pepper

Filling

  • 12 ounces coarsely ground pork
  • 6 ounces shrimp, cleaned (see “How to Clean Shrimp”), cut in half lengthwise and then into ½-inch pieces
  • 5 scallions, finely sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3 fresh water chestnuts, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 teaspoons white rice wine, mixed with 1 teaspoon ginger juice
  • tablespoons oyster sauce
  • teaspoons light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of white pepper
  • 1 jumbo egg
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch for dusting
  • 40 wonton wrappers
  • 3 quarts water
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 4 teaspoons sesame oil

Method

To make the dipping sauce: In a small bowl, mix together all of the ingredients. Set aside to rest and allow the flavors to blend while you make and cook the wontons.

To make the filling: Place all of the filling ingredients in a large bowl. Using a wooden spoon or two pairs of wooden chopsticks, mix the ingredients together, stirring them in one direction. Stirring in this way ensures the mixture will become a cohesive filling. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to overnight. The longer the filling is refrigerated, the firmer it will become and the easier it will be to work with. Do not, however, refrigerate longer than overnight.

Dust a baking sheet with cornstarch. Have a small bowl of water at hand. Place the stack of wonton wrappers on the work surface and cover with a damp cloth. Work with only 1 wrapper at a time and keep the rest covered, or they will dry out and become brittle and unusable. Hold a wrapper in one hand and place 1 tablespoon of the filling in its center. Dip a blunt butter knife into the water and dampen the edges of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half, creating a rectangular envelope shape. Crimp the edges of the wrapper together with a forefinger and thumb. Dampen one corner of the folded bottom edge of the wrapper, and gently pull the side ends together, overlapping the wet corner slightly with its opposite dry one. Press them together to adhere creating a bowlike shape. The folded wontons will somewhat resemble a tor-tellino. Repeat until you have used all of the filling and wrappers. (The more you make, the simpler they will be to make.) As the wontons are finished, place them, not touching, on the prepared baking sheet.

In a large pot, bring the water, salt, and peanut oil to a boil over high heat. Add half of the wontons to the pot and allow the water to return to a boil. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the wontons float to the top and their skins become slightly translucent, with the shrimp of the filling showing pink through them. Turn off the heat, remove the wontons with a Chinese strainer, and drain them over a bowl. Then transfer them to a bowl, add 2 teaspoons of the sesame oil, and mix well to coat evenly and prevent sticking.

As soon as the first batch of wontons is removed from the water, return the water to a boil and cook and drain the remaining wontons the same way, then mix with the remaining 2 teaspoons sesame oil.

Divide the dipping sauce among individual sauce dishes. Serve the wontons warm with the dipping sauce.