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RCP: Chinese wonton

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Paul Winalski

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RCP: Chinese wonton

by Paul Winalski » Fri Dec 21, 2018 5:01 pm

Wonton dumplings, steamed or deep-fried, are popular all over China and various regions have their own dialect names for the dish and their own styles for the filling. Wonton is the Cantonese name; in Sichuan they are chao shou. All the regional variants use a skin made out of pasta dough rolled out thin and cut into squares. Wonton wrappers are available at most US supermarkets and Asian groceries. I'm not a fan of the ubiquitous Nasoya brand as, in my experience, the wrapper tends to crack while folding the wontons. There are various styles for wrapping the dumplings; I'll be giving three variants.

All of the filling recipes involve 1/2 pound of ground pork.

Here are the ingredients for a Shanghai-style filling (from the Joyce Chen Cookbook):

1 TBS soy sauce
1 TBS vegetable oil
2 TBS cold water
1/4 tsp sugar
1 tsp minced scallions (green onions), or more
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp shaohsing rice wine (or dry fino Sherry)

Here are the ingredients for a Sichaun-style filling (from Fuscia Dunlop's Sichuan Cookery):

2 TBS ginger water (crush 30 grams fresh ginger, soak in 2 TBS water for 10 minutes, discard ginger and keep water)

1/2 egg, beaten
1 tsp shaohsing rice wine (or dry fino Sherry)
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp (heaping) salt
3-4 turns of a black pepper mill
50 grams cold chicken stock

For both fillings, mix all the ingredients with the meat in a bowl until thoroughly combined.

You then fill each wonton wrapper with 1/2 tsp of filling, applying one of the folding techniques in the following replies. Keep the finished wontons under a damp cloth or paper towel so that they don't dry out.

Wontons freeze well, but when deep-fried the texture of defrosted wontons will be a bit different from fresh.

To deep-fry wontons, heat vegetable oil (I prefer peanut oil) in a suitable deep-frying vessel to 350-375 degrees Fahrenheit. I like to use an electric wok for this. The sloping sides of the wok let you use less oil (about 2 pints) and the electric thermostat does the temperature control for you. Fry the wontons in batches and avoid overcrowding. Drop them in top side down so that the edges flare out, then turn them over (two chopsticks work well for this) so that the bottoms cook first. When the bottoms start to brown, turn the wontons over. Remove them when they're an even golden brown. The big brass-wire Chinese scoop is ideal for scooping them out. Drain on paper towels. Serve with Chinese plum sauce (or Chinese-American "duck sauce") or Chinese hot mustard.

To boil wontons, bring a pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat, drop in a batch of dumplings and stir once to prevent sticking. When the water has returned to the boil, put in a coffee cup of cold water. When the water returns to the boil again, the wontons should be done. Scoop them out and drain in a colander. They can now be served in individual bowls with various condiments or added to soup. For wonton soup, you could cook the wontons directly in the soup, but surface starch on the wontons will make the soup cloudy, so if you want crystal-clear wonton soup you must boil the wontons separately.

In restaurants, they use a chopstick to place a minuscule amount of filling in the center of the wrapper, then they bring up all sides of the wrapper around the filling to form a rough bag shape. This makes sense when you have to fold thousands of them at a time, but in the home there are more elegant (albeit slower) techniques. The three in the next replies--the leaf, the flower, and the nun's cap--differ only in the first fold.

-Paul W.
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Leaf wonton wrapping style

by Paul Winalski » Fri Dec 21, 2018 5:35 pm

The final wonton shape has two completely overlapped flaps on opposite ends of the dumpling. I prefer it for boiled wontons because the doubled-over flaps resist getting mushy.

[1] Place a wonton wrapper on a plate, then put 1/2 tsp (scant) of filling in the center of it. With a finger moisten the skin just above the filling, in the direction of one of the corners of the wrapper:

wonton_leaf-1.jpg
wonton_leaf-1.jpg (98.18 KiB) Viewed 1256 times


[2] Fold the wonton point-to-point to form a triangle by bringing the corner opposite the moistened edge over the filling. Press around the filling to drive out any air bubbles and to seal around the filling:

wonton_leaf-2.jpg
wonton_leaf-2.jpg (81.94 KiB) Viewed 1256 times


[3] Roll the hypotenuse of the triangle up, about halfway to the right angle:

wonton_leaf-3.jpg
wonton_leaf-3.jpg (78.78 KiB) Viewed 1256 times


[4] Moisten the left point with some water, then bring both points around and press the left point firmly on the right point so that they adhere. The final wonton should look like this:

wonton_leaf-4.jpg
wonton_leaf-4.jpg (80.61 KiB) Viewed 1256 times


-Paul W.
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Flower wonton wrapping style

by Paul Winalski » Fri Dec 21, 2018 5:47 pm

The final wonton shape has flaps at each corner. I prefer this shape for deep-frying because the non-overlapping flaps are crunchier. And they look elegant when deep-fried.

[1] As with the leaf wonton, place 1/2 tsp (scant) of filling in the center of the wonton skin. Moisten the wonton skin above the filling in the direction you will be folding.

[2] Fold the lower corner of the skin across the filling to a position 1/2 way between the upper left edge. Press down the skin above the filling, eliminating any air bubbles and sealing in the filling:

wonton_flower-1.jpg
wonton_flower-1.jpg (66.72 KiB) Viewed 1256 times


[3] Roll the filling side up parallel to the first fold:

wonton_flower-2.jpg
wonton_flower-2.jpg (145.72 KiB) Viewed 1256 times


[4] Moisten the bottom of the left flap, then bring both flaps towards you and press the right one over the leftt one to seal. The final wonton should look like this:

wonton_flower-3.jpg
wonton_flower-3.jpg (142 KiB) Viewed 1256 times


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Nun's cap folding style

by Paul Winalski » Fri Dec 21, 2018 5:59 pm

The final shape looks like, well, a nun's cap. This shape works well either boiled or deep-fried.

[1] As with the other styles, place 1/2 tsp (scant) of filling directly in the center of the wrapper. Orient the wrapper so that the sides are parallel to you (as opposed to point-up, as in the previous folds). Moisten halfway around the side of the filling away from you.

[2] Fold the wrapper over the filling to form a rectangle. Press around the filling to eliminate air bubbles and to seal in the filling:

wonton_nuns_cap-1.jpg
wonton_nuns_cap-1.jpg (159.57 KiB) Viewed 1255 times


[3] Fold the filling side away from you to form a narrower rectangle. [sorry, the image for this one didn't come out]

[4] Moisten the left side flap, then bring the right side flap over it and press to seal. The final wonton should look like this:

wonton_nuns_cap-2.jpg
wonton_nuns_cap-2.jpg (140.87 KiB) Viewed 1255 times


-Paul W.
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Jeff Grossman

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Re: RCP: Chinese wonton

by Jeff Grossman » Sat Dec 22, 2018 3:06 pm

Thank you, thank you! I have made won ton before but never knew the details of all the shapes.

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