I spent a lot of time making wontons with Mum as a child all the way through to when I left home. It felt like a craft project when I was younger and, although slow, my little hands and stubby fingers found it easy to pleat neat little dumpling parcels without tearing the delicate wrappers. (Apparently it was also a good way to keep me quiet and occupied.) Mum, on the other hand, would be either short on patience, greedy for greater amounts of filling or both, and ended up with many exploding wontons instead.
Mum’s go-to recipe was a beef one and any leftover mince filling was great used in an omelette. I’ve made a pork version here, with minced prawns, wood ear fungus and bamboo shoots, which is more reminiscent of the first ones I ever tried on trips to Hong Kong. Through repeated trips there to visit relatives, I also discovered that wontons didn’t have to be pleated (although the repetitive actions to produce neat results appealed to my Virgo nature) and that the trails of “hanging” wrapper pastry when cooked were meant to make the wontons resemble fat goldfish. A definite bonus to know they’re meant to look a little messy, and each a little different, when time and/or patience are a premium. And, as opposed to Northern Chinese dumplings, wontons are eaten with red vinegar.
The broth that Mum made for the wontons was always from stock cubes. Time spent on slow simmering was reserved for Chinese (medicinal) soups instead. I’ve used a chicken stock paste diluted with water and thrown in some ginger for a more Chinese flavour, but spring onions or coriander could be added too. Unless you’re lazy/disorganised like me and realise you have neither until you start cooking, ahem.
Pork & Prawn Wontons (makes 60, with some leftover filling)
· 450g pork mince (with a small amount of fat)
· 3 tbs light soy sauce
· 1 ½ tbs dark soy sauce
· pinch of ground white pepper
· 8 medium prawns, peeled & deveined
· 1 piece of dried wood ear fungus (available from Asian grocers)
· handful of bamboo shoot slices (available from Asian grocers in cans)
· 1 pack of egg wonton wrappers (60 sheets)
· 4 tbs chicken stock paste (I used Campbell’s Real Stock Paste)
· 1.5L water, plus extra for cooking wontons
· ginger slices, spring onions and coriander to taste
· fresh or dried egg noodles, Asian greens, red vinegar to serve (optional)
- Combine pork mince with light soy, dark soy and a sprinkling of ground white pepper. Mix thoroughly and set aside to marinate.
- Soak wood ear fungus in a bowl of water for about 30 minutes, making sure it is completely covered. Drain and chop into short, thin shreds.
|Wood ear fungus - before and after soaking|
- In the meantime, chop bamboo shoots into similar short, thin shreds.
- Roughly chop prawns until they resemble a mince and the mixture is slightly sticky.
- Mix pork mince thoroughly with other chopped ingredients. Place approximately 1 teaspoonful of filling mixture in the centre of a wonton wrapper and pinch together to close. Repeat with remaining wrapper sheets until all used.
- Bring 1.5L water to the boil and dissolve the stock paste into it. Add ginger and any herbs (if using) and allow to reboil before adding salt to taste. Reduce to a simmer and keep hot.
- Bring a pot of water to the boil. Drop in wontons in batches and they are cooked when they float to the top and water reboils. Take care not to overcrowd the pot. Remove with a slotted spoon and ladle over hot stock to serve.
Extra wontons can be frozen flat on a tray or plate and transferred to a freezer bag once completely frozen. Excess mince filling can be flattened into a shallow dish, steamed for about 8 minutes on high heat and served with rice - tada, steamed Chinese meatloaf!
Mademoiselle Délicieuse received samples of Campbell’s Real Stock Paste courtesy of Nuffnang Australia.