Chinese New Year: Wonton Soup
I never want to make any sweeping, declarative statements on the internet that I might, one day, live to regret. But wonton soup is the best thing you could ever eat in the middle of a long winter and if you don’t agree with me you are a total numbskull and we aren’t even friends. It never ceases to amaze me that you can just make things that you’ve eaten and loved a thousand times, that are shrouded in mystery, and seem impossibly alchemical. I suppose after last year’s successful experiment in wonton frying I should have had more faith. I struggle with what I cannot see.
Making wontons is fun and totally easy! You get to squish ground pork with your fingers to make the filling and do a little folding technique for dozens of purses or water lilies, or nurse’s caps or what have you. This recipe does yield about a bazillion wontons, so you may want to portion them out, fry some, freeze a few, as you like.
I like to flavor the plain (boxed) chicken broth with lots of scallions. But you could also use cilantro. One of the only Chinese restaurants in Portland I enjoyed makes a wonton soup broth brimming with bok choy and cabbage, etc. and it’s just fantastic. You know how sometimes you get wonton soup and it’s like a dun-colored dishwater? I really hate that.
The other thing I was questioning as I set out was whether or not to make my own wonton skins. Then I realized that Chinese New Year isn’t about making authentic Chinese food. Far from it. I have zero idea what more than a billion Chinese people in a nation slightly larger geographically than the US are eating for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. We’re recreating American-style Chinese takeout, to the best of our home cook abilities. And that stuff has got to be mostly frozen, cooked and shipped from a factory in Duluth. The main task here is crafting a tasty filling, which you can test by cooking some in a pan to check seasoning. Make this, it’s nice. And so are you. Really, I think so. We’re totally friends again.
Adapted from a recipe by Joylicious
- 7 oz shrimp, peeled and finely chopped
- 14 oz ground pork
- 1/2 egg white
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- 1 tablespoon rice wine
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon ginger, grated
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon table salt
- 1 package wonton wrappers
- Chicken broth
- Scallions, thinly sliced
In a large mixing bowl combine shrimp, pork, egg white, corn starch, rice wine, sesame oil, ginger, sugar, and salt. Allow the mixture to “marinate” for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and lightly dust with cornstarch. To assemble wontons, fill each skin with about a teaspoon of filling, and fold either in half, into flower blossoms, or into nurse’s caps (see video below for more information on wonton folds). Place each finished wonton on the baking sheet.
Drop the wontons in a large pot of boiling water and cook until they float, 5-6 minutes. Slowly, over low heat, warm the chicken broth and scallions. Place a few boiled wontons into each bowl, and ladle with the warm chicken broth. Top with thinly sliced scallions.
Need help with your folding? We’ve made a video to help you get the hang of the three main types of folds for wontons: