Wontons are a popular dumpling common in Chinese cuisine. In Cantonese, the word wonton can be translated to mean “swallowing clouds.” These bite-sized savory dumplings are conveniently wrapped up in elegant little packages, bursting with complex flavors. Deciding what to fill them with leaves us with endless possibilities. My dad and I watched some wonton pot stickers prepared on an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and our mouths immediately began to water. We had to attempt making them – either that or travel to the Blue Koi Restaurant in Kansas City, MO where they were featured.
My dad, who is a true meat lover, has been experimenting with grinding meats with the KitchenAid attachment; We decided this would be a perfect dish to showcase his new hobby. Of course, you don’t have to go to the trouble of grinding your own meat. You can purchase it from your butcher or grocery store. A food processor also works well for this purpose.
For our recipe, we used a combination of ground chicken, pork and shrimp. Generally, the meat stuffing in wontons incorporates pork. You may certainly substitute the pork with lamb, veal, mushrooms or any combination of protein that suites your tastes. The chili garlic sauce, along with fresh cilantro and green onions impart a bright component to these tasty wontons. If we can make them, so can you!
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground chicken
1/2 pound ground shrimp
2 tbsp light soy sauce 2 tbsp mirin or sake (or any sweet white wine)
1 tsp sesame seed oil (it has a very powerful flavor)
1 tsp ground white pepper
Handful of green onions, roughly chopped
One 12 oz package of wonton wraps. Nasoya All Natural Wonton Wraps are perfect and can be found in almost every grocery store.
For the filling, combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup light soy sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp garlic chili sauce (more or less)
2 drops sesame seed oil
1 tsp white pepper
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp garlic, minced
Handful cilantro, roughly chopped
Handful green onions, roughly chopped
While the meats are marinating, prepare the dipping sauce by combining all of the ingredients into a bowl and whisk thoroughly.
Finished dipping sauce
To form each dumpling, spoon approximately 1 tbsp of meat stuffing onto the center of a wonton wrapper.
Draw your finger moistened with water along the edges of the wonton wrapper. This will allow the dumpling edges to adhere to one another.
Fold one corner of the wrapper over the opposite corner to form a triangle. Press the edges together to seal.
Holding the wrapper with both hands, curl the corners inward and seal them together pressing firmly. Moisten lightly with water to form a tight seal.
I could definitely use more practice shaping my wontons. Try not to get discouraged if this is your first attempt. They will still taste fantastic!
Wontons can be steamed, pan-fried, or even deep-fried. I prefer them to be steamed first and then pan-fried with a little sesame oil so they turn slightly crispy, yet remain soft and tender to the bite.
Steaming Add about 1/2 cup of water to a non-stick skillet (enough to fill the pan about 1/4-inch).
Over medium-high heat, bring the water to a steady boil.
Once the water starts to boil, add the dumplings.
Cover and reduce the heat to a medium boil.
The wontons are delightful when served steamed.
You can go one step further if you prefer them slightly crisped. (It’s best to brown them after they have been steamed in order to avoid a hot oil mess. Adding water directly to hot oil will cause it to splatter. Therefore, it’s safer to steam the wontons with water first and then crisp them with oil.)
After you have steamed the wontons by following the above steps, heat 1-2 tsp of sesame oil (or vegetable oil) in the same non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
When the pan is very hot, place the wontons in a single layer, flat side down.
Flip to brown the other side.
Let the wontons cook until they are golden brown on each side, about 1-2 minutes.
Serve with the delicious spicy dipping sauce and enjoy!
Yield: 6 servings
Note: You can shape the raw wontons and then freeze them for weeks. Defrost them 30 minutes prior to cooking.
We enjoyed making these “swallowing clouds” so much that we were literally gobbling them up as they came off the stove. We think this might make a great party food for a crowd that likes to be in the kitchen. Pair the dumplings with a favorite beer or a crisp white wine like Sauvignon Blanc.