Sunday, January 6, 2013


Wrote about wontons over a year ago.
See this post:

Enough for fifty dumplings

One cup chopped shrimp.
One cup ground pork.
Quarter cup chopped water chestnuts (馬蹄 matai).
One TBS minced parsley (洋香芹 yeung heung kan) .
One TBS minced cilantro (芫茜 yuen sai).
One stalk scallion (葱 tsung), minced.
Half TBS sherry or rice wine.
Half TBS oyster sauce (豪油 hoyau).
One Tsp. soy sauce (酱油 cheung yau, 豉油 si yau).
One Tsp. sesame oil (麻油 ma yau).
Half Tsp. cornstarch (玉米淀粉 yiuk mai din fan).
Half Tsp. sugar (白糖 pak tong).

Regarding cup measurements for the shrimp and pork: these are more or less eight ounces or 226 grammes.
Parsley is NOT traditional, but I like the taste, and it's good for the digestion.
Substitutions can be made, for instance the proportion of shrimp increased drastically and the quantity of pork decreased correspondingly.
Instead of water chestnut, chopped rehydrated cloud ear (雲耳 wun yi) could be used, as they too have a wonderful textural effect.

Mix everything, but do not overwork it, as doing so makes the meat tough. The shrimp fragments should be larger than the pork or water chestnut particles, everything else smaller - reason being that you want the 'crunch' of the shrimp, and the lesser ingredients need to be evenly distributed throughout.

Put a dab of filling into each wonton skin, brush the exposed edges with egg wash, and first press two diagonal corners against each other, then bring up the other two corners up to form tails, pressing out the air in the pouch.
The result should look like a purse or hobo's pack.
Place each finished dumpling on a floured plate or tray. It is VERY important that the surface be floured. Otherwise you will rip the wontons when you try to pick them up.

Sufficient for fifty wonton. To freeze, dust with flour, and wrap in a plastic film which has also been dusted. Six or seven dunplings per packet, so that one packet can be removed as needed. You can also arrange them in a sealed container with wax paper between the layers.

NOTE: Rather than making your own wrappers, it is best to buy them premade, so I shall not discuss how to make the skins, other than to say that if you've made kreplach from scratch, you could use the same recipe for the wrapper.
FYI: As a matter of interest, the amount of pork given above is the equivalent of two fresh Italian sausages.


Two pounds chicken on the bone.
One pound pork on the bone.
Half cup pieces dried flounder (左口魚 jorhau yu, 大地魚 daidei yu).
Two TBS dried shrimp.
Four quarts (16 cups, approx 5 litres) water.
Quarter cup sherry or rice wine.
Three or four slices ginger.
Half Tsp. white peppercorns.Roast or fry the dried flounder pieces nicely brown, but do not burn them.
Blanch the chicken and pork briefly in boiling water, drain and rinse well.
Place everything except the dried shrimp in a cauldron and simmer on low for three hours, skimming a few times in the first half hour.
Add the dried shrimp in the last half hour.
Strain very well.

Blanching the meat and bones first prevents overmuch scum, and yields a much cleaner broth.
The dried flounder is the essential Cantonese touch - it will NOT make the broth taste like stinky dried fish, but instead unify the flavours and add a nutty seafood saveur of its own.
Think of it as bouillon base.

Well then. You have your wonton, you've got the broth. What else will you need?


Egg-noodles. These have to be thin and fresh, for the best texture and taste. Fresh egg noodles need about a minute of blanching, whereas dried noodles take between three to five minutes, depending on thickness.
Dried noodles will also have a whiff of lye water.

Vegetables. It is very 'Chinatown' to add a few coarsely ripped baby bokchoi (小白菜 siu paktsoi) to the bowl of soup, though it isn't traditional. For that matter, neither is adding noodles, and most non-Cantonese are appalled at that innovation, so go right ahead.
The sweet crisp freshness of the tiny greens are a marvelous chiddush.

Meats. Some people like to add some thinly sliced charsiu pork (叉燒) on top of the soup. This is not necessary at all, but no great heresy either. If you choose to do so, use the fattier kind.
Chunks of roast duck are also delicious.

Garnishes. Garlic chives are traditional in Hong Kong, but regular chives and chopped scallion works too. Cilantro is optional.

Dipping sauce. I am a barbarian, I like hot and salty. What works for me is equal parts soy sauce, oyster sauce, chilipaste, and dark vinegar, with a little sugar and finely minced ginger mixed in. If it's too stiff, add some Louisiana hot sauce. You do not really need a dip for the wontons, but it is always fun to play with your food.


It's supposed to be merely a snack and require only a small bowl, but after going through all the trouble of getting everything ready you aren't going to cook any other dishes.
So go ahead, use the big bowls.

Keep the broth on the back burner, below boiling temperature.

Heat up a large pot of water. When it boils, dump in the wonton. They're done when they all float. Scoop them out and apportion them in the bowls. Gently pour a sufficient quantity of hot broth over them. Put a porcelain soup spoon in each bowl, anchored by the wonton.

Blanch the noodles in the boiling water till toothsome. Immediately rinse them in cold water to stop them cooking any further. Place a skein on top of the wontons in the bowls, top off with a little more broth.

Add whatever else you feel necessary at this point, but it's fine already.

Garnish with chives, or scallion, and cilantro.


Why so specific an order to the soup assembly? Why not cook the noodles and wontons IN the broth?

There are two very good reasons. The first one is that the wonton and the noodles have different cooking times. The second reason is that you do not want the starches that adhere to either the noodles or the wontons to muddy-up your fine broth.

Additionally, it just looks better if the wontons and the noodles form distinct areas in your bowl. That's why the dark green of scallions are a better garnish than the garlic chives commonly used - they're more dramatic, more visually appealing.
For the same reason, three thin slices of charsiu fanned out on top are also pleasing.

No comments: