Why This Recipe Works
- Using thicker dumpling skins creates a wonton that is less delicate and thus easier to cook.
No, these wontons aren't super-sized. The Chinese make a distinction between "big" wontons, which are made with wrappers filled with meat and vegetables, and "small" wontons, which are filled with only meat and use much thinner wrappers.
Wontons have always struck me as the unappreciated cousin of the dumpling. Since dumplings are broadly defined as any wrapper and filling combination, wontons are technically a type of dumpling rather than its relative. But I often think of the wonton as distinct because it's considerably easier and more forgiving than the Chinese jiaozi or Korean mandu. In this sense, Japanese gyoza, which are usually referred to as dumplings, have much in common with the wonton because both tend to use thin and pliant skins.
For the home cook, the wonton has two distinct advantages over the thicker flour dumpling. First, while it can be difficult to find a store-bought dumpling skin that has the chewiness and suppleness of the homemade variety, good-quality wonton skins at the store are not much different than what you can make at home. Second, the thinness of the wrapper also makes the cooking process less likely to fail. Judgments about length of cooking time is less crucial for the wonton than the dumpling, since the latter requires that the skin be neither doughy (undercooked) or gluey (overcooked), while wontons will reach a point of doneness and hold that texture for a good thirty seconds, giving the cook much more leeway.
And though not all wonton wrappers include the addition of an egg, having that addition yields more pliant and manageable wrappers. (Think about the parallel to the noodle: Just as making flour-and-water noodles can be trying, flour-and-egg noodles are almost always good.)
Finally, like dumplings, wontons can be enjoyed in a number of ways: boiled, with a dressing of soy sauce, chile oil, and various other condiments; pan-fried or deep-fried and dipped in sauce; or served in soup broth. When I make wontons I use up at least two packs of wrappers and freeze half the batch. Freezing the wontons makes no difference to their taste and texture, and makes for a quick and flavorful meal on a rainy day.
"Big" wontons are made with thicker wrappers, and are filled with both meat and vegetables.
1 pack wonton wrappers, about 50 wrappers
For the Filling:
1/3 pound fatty ground pork
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 bunch chives, minced, about 2 cups
1/3 pound leafy greens, such as Napa, bok choy, or spinach, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/3 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon rice wine or vermouth
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 large egg
Mix all the ingredients for the filling in a bowl. Using your hands or a wooden spoon, vigorously stir the mixture around in the bowl and let sit for 1 hour to allow the flavors to sink in and the meat to bind.
Fill each wonton wrapper with about a 1 teaspoon of the filling. Leftover filling may be frozen and put to use in more wontons, or stir-fried.
To boil wontons, bring a pot of water to boil and cook the wontons for 3 to 4 minutes, until the skins are just beginning to turn translucent. Serve in soup or with dipping sauce. To pan-fry wontons, boil the wontons for 2 minutes. Bring a heavy skillet to medium heat and add a tablespoon of oil. Pan-fry on one or two sides. Refrain from moving the wontons around in the pan, so as to give the surface of the wontons a chance to brown.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 4 to 6|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 4g||5%|
|Saturated Fat 1g||7%|
|Total Carbohydrate 18g||7%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||3%|
|Total Sugars 0g|
|Vitamin C 8mg||39%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|