Wednesday, June 17, 2015


As mentioned in the wor wonton post, I first made wontons in grade school.  Back then, my mom presented me with wrappers and filling and I just did the tedious part of wrapping and frying them.  Kids don't know that's the part no one wants to do.  When I decided to make a Chinese soup with the rest of the cabbage, it just seemed natural to make wontons part of it.

I decided to use the Sunset Oriental Cook Book for this one, since it is probably what I made as a child. The shrimp filling is straight-forward and the flavors are generic enough to adapt to any Chinese-themed meal.

It took me about three pieces into the process to realize these are basically square tortellini.  Since pasta originated in China, the wontons probably came first.  The brand of skins I bought behaved like thick filo dough.  Work fast and don't leave them exposed to the air any longer than you need to.  If you have leftovers, you can use them to make ravioli or tortellini.  There was even a recipe for it on the package.

These are great do-aheads.  You can make them several hours in advance and keep them refrigerated until ready to cook.  Just keep them under plastic wrap so they don't dry out.

1 package wonton wrappers (at least 3 dozen pieces)
1/2 lb raw shrimp (or ground chicken or pork)
2 stalks green onion, finely chopped
6 slices water chestnuts, minced
2 Tb fresh parsley, minced
1 Tb soy sauce
1 Tb vegetable oil + a bit
1 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt (if shrimp is not pre-salted)
1/8 tsp pepper

1.  If you bought shell-on shrimp, peel and remove the tails.  Toss the shells in a pot with a cup or so of water and simmer for 10 minutes into stock.  Strain and discard the shells.  I don't care what you do with the shrimp stock, but it's a shame to waste the shells.  I poured mine into the soup.  Finely chop the shrimp.

2.  In a bowl, combine all the ingredients from the shrimp down into a filling paste.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

3.  Unless you plan to drop these instantly into a fryer or soup, lightly oil a baking sheet.  Set out as many wrappers as you can fill in a few minutes and keep the rest in the package to stay moist.  Have a small dish of water nearby to moisten your fingertips.

4.  Dampen the edges of the wrappers, then scoop either a level teaspoon or heaping half-teaspoon into the center.  Fold one corner to the opposing one to make a triangle.  Press the seams shut.  Then pull the two bottom corners together, overlapping the points, into a little hat.  Place the wonton on the oiled sheet and go on to the next.  When the filling runs out, cover baking sheet with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

5.  To cook by simmering, simply drop into the water or broth and cook until pasta is al dente.  The filling will cook quicker than the shell.  Since this will usually be in a soup, get out a ladle and start filling up bowls.

6.  To fry, heat at least 2" of vegetable or peanut oil to 360º.  Depending on the size of your fryer or saucepan, cook about 6 at a time.  Poke them around to keep them from sticking to each other.  They will be golden brown in under two minutes.  Drain on paper towels and start the next round as soon as the temperature recovers.  Serve immediately or at room temperature with a dipping sauce like flavored mustard or sweet & sour.  Do not store in the fridge.  They will lose their crispness.  You have to eat them all that day.

Makes 3 to 4 dozen, depending on how you scoop the filling

Difficulty rating :-0

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