Back when I was a little girl, I loved helping my mother make wonton dumplings. We would spend the afternoon filling and folding, like a miniature assembly line. When I was younger my job was to put the filling in the wrapper and pass it to my mother for folding. And then as I got a little older I learned how to fold my own wontons into little “hats”. Dumplings represent wealth and prosperity which is why we eat them at Chinese New Year (and any time of the year really). So with the New Year upon us, I decided it was time to pass along the tradition to my own girls.
Tonight we made a big batch of traditional wontons, but we also ended up making some without the shrimp for Kay who’s allergic to shellfish. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any gluten-free wonton wrappers locally so I made “wonton meatballs” without the wrapper for hubby who’s allergic to gluten. Amazon does carry these gluten-free Three Ladies wonton wrappers made from rice instead. While wontons can look intimidating, they’re not that hard to make. It does take a long time to mince everything for the filling and to fold all the wontons, but with a little practice you’ll be folding like a superstar.
The key to folding a nice-looking wonton is not to overstuff. I use about a teaspoon’s worth per wrapper. Too much will crack the wrapper the second you try to fold it. And make sure to press out any air bubbles when sealing the edges so they don’t burst when you cook them.
There are many ways to fold wontons, but here’s how my mother taught me. Place a teaspoon of filling in the centre of the wrapper then fold it in half and seal the edges with a bit of water. Gently flatten and spread the filling out to the edges, then curve the wonton around your finger and seal the bottom corners together with water. Finish by gently folding the lengthwise edge over.
I keep my wonton wrappers on a saucer covered with a damp dishcloth so they don’t dry out and crack while I’m working my way through the wrapping. My other accessory is a small bowl of water. I dip my index finger in the bowl and run a bead of water around the edges before pressing the wrapper edges together, and again to seal the corners together.
To make sure we could instantly tell which were Kay’s non-shrimpy wontons, I folded hers using this very basic purse-style fold. The nice thing about this fold is you can add a little more filling so it goes quicker. Like my mother’s fold, I started with a teaspoon of filling in the centre of the wrapper then folded it in half and sealed the edges with a bit of water. All I did then was gently pleat and gather the free edges together on top and press to seal.
However you fold them, place them on a wax paper covered cookie sheet when each one is done. The recipe I’ve given you here makes 130 wontons, which is way more than pretty much anyone can eat all at once so you’ll have lots to freeze. Leave them on the cookie sheet when you put them in the freezer. Once frozen, you can transfer them into a freezer bag and enjoy wontons whenever you like!
You can pan fry or deep fry wontons, but my favourite way to cook them is in soup. Bring some chicken broth to a boil then add fresh or frozen wontons. Turn the heat down to medium high and boil. Fresh wontons take about 4-5 minutes to cook, frozen will take a couple of minutes longer. You’ll know they’re done when they float to the top of the soup. Throw some green onion in for garnish and enjoy!
- 130 wonton skins (1 package with 2 halves)
- 1 1/2 lbs. fatty ground pork
- 1/2 lb shelled, deveined shrimp
- 2 green onions
- 1 tin sliced water chestnuts
- 2 large shiitake mushrooms
- 8 garlic cloves
- 2 heaping tablespoons minced ginger
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons rice wine
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce (I used gluten-free tamari soy sauce)
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth per serving
- sliced green onions for garnish
- Mince shrimp, green onion, water chestnuts, shiitake, garlic, and ginger.
- Add all ingredients into large mixing bowl (except for wonton skins) and mix well.
- Place one heaping teaspoon of filling in the centre of each skin, moisten edges with water, and fold into wonton shape (see pictures). Place finished wontons on wax paper covered cookie sheets to dry.
- Heat chicken broth on stove over medium high heat with desired number of wontons. Wontons are done when they float, about 4-5 minutes.
- Or to deep fry wontons, add 1 inch of cooking oil to a wok. Heat oil to 375F. Once hot, fry a few wontons at a time, turning occasionally, until golden brown and crispy (about 2 or 3 minutes).
- Place wontons on paper towel to drain excess oil before serving.
- Freeze extras wontons on the cookie sheet before transferring into a freezer bag for storage.
- Allergy note: You can omit the shrimp for allergies without any other adjustments to the recipe.