I think the ultimate Chinese comfort food is handmade wonton in soup. Warm, soothing, gingery broth…..delicate, floating “clouds.” In Cantonese, wonton is pronounced wun tun 雲吞, which means “swallowing clouds.” The wonton wrapper is so delicate and thin. the wonton appear to be floating in the soup.
When I was in college, my girlfriends and I would get together and make hundreds of these and freeze them. It was cheap, easy to make and we had quite a bit of fun as we turned it into a “dumpling party.” It’s the best quick meal, as wonton can be cooked directly from the freezer into simmering broth.
There’s all sorts of ingredients that you can use to fill wonton. Shrimp, ground beef, ground pork, cabbage, spinach, bamboo shoots, scallops, mushrooms….really, anything that you want. When snow crab or king crab legs are on sale, I’ll make crab and napa cabbage wonton.
I normally eat wonton with a small dipping bowl of red vinegar and slivers of fresh ginger. That’s the Cantonese way! Add in some noodles to make wonton noodle soup and I’m in heaven.
Servings: 50 dumplings
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Don't worry about the amount of salt used for the cabbage and spinach. The majority of the salt stays in the water and is discarded. The salt is used to release water from the vegetables (hey, remember osmosis from high school!?)
You can add cooked noodles to this dish to make wonton noodle soup - but just remember to cook the noodles in a separate pot of water (and not the broth) to prevent excess starch from the noodles from clouding up the good broth.
If you want, serve wonton with a dipping bowl of red wine vinegar and slivers of fresh ginger. Peel ginger, then use a vegetable peeler to peel paper-thin slices of ginger. Use knife to further chop into fine slivers. Combine with the red vinegar. To eat, place a wonton on your spoon. With chopsticks, pick up a few slivers of ginger and place on top of wonton. Eat!
1. Squeeze as much water out of the spinach and discard the water (or water your plants!). Place the spinach and cabbage in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and mix well. Let sit for 10 minutes. In large handfuls (or a cheesecloth), squeeze the water out of the cabbage/spinach and discard the water.
2. Add in the ground pork, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, wine, sesame oil and cornstarch. Mix well.
OPTIONAL: Heat up a small frying pan over medium heat, add in a touch of cooking oil. Cook a spoonful of the dumpling filling and taste. Adjust seasonings to the dumpling filling if you wish.
3. In a small bowl, mix together the water and cornstarch for the slurry.
4. Take one wonton wrapper, place 1 scant teaspoon of the dumpling mixture in the middle. Paint the outer edge of the wonton wrapper with the slurry. Fold wrapper over like in a triangle shape and seal tightly all around. Make sure there are no air pockets or holes in the wonton. Fold the two triangle points together and seal to make the wonton shape. Place folded wonton on a clean, dry plate and cover with plastic wrap or barely damp towel to avoid drying out.
5. When wonton are all folded, you can store or freeze.
6. For the broth: Set aside 2 cups of the broth. Bring the remaining broth and ginger to a simmer in a large stock pot and turn the heat to medium-high. Add in a batch of wonton. When the broth returns to a simmer again, pour in 1 cup of the reserved broth. Again, let the broth return to a simmer and then pour in the last 1 cup of reserved broth. Once the broth comes back to a simmer, the wonton should be done. Discard the ginger slices. Serve wonton and broth with few cilantro leaves if desired!
- If you want to freeze the wonton, place all the UNCOOKED wonton flat on a plate. Do not crowd. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze. Once the wonton are frozen, you can gather them up and store in freezer bag. This ensures that the wonton freeze individually (otherwise if the wonton froze and stuck together, it would be nearly impossible to cook.
- When ready to cook wonton, they can go from freezer to simmering broth. Follow exact same cooking instructions. Since the wonton is frozen, it will take longer time for the broth to return to a simmer -- so it's self timing!.