In Montreal, wonton/dumpling places are all the rage. Whether they’re boiled, steamed, pan fried, filled with soup or served with it, restaurants offering a myriad of flavors and fillings are popular eateries among urban Gen Yers and Millenials. Bite into a wonton, and it’s easy to see why.
Wontons, when done right, are little bundles of heaven. Soft pillowy wrappers with moist flavorful fillings of meat, seafood, tofu, or vegetables that you can eat with anything from plain soy sauce or chili oil, to more complex sauces made from peanut butter or spicy vinegar. Though wontons look dainty, they’re surprisingly easy to make and it’s the kind of dish that’s sure to please everyone. The trick is offering a variety of dipping sauces to choose from and keeping the filling tasty, but simple.
I boil my wontons because this method makes it very easy to tell when they’re done and guarantees that the wrapper and filling will be ready at the same time. Speaking of filling, I use ground meat and shrimp, but you could use just the meat or minced firm tofu. While there are tons of sauces you could eat with these, I’ve included two of my favorites. Don’t be put off by how sour they seem, the liquid in the dumplings will temper them.
Here’s How You Do It
Difficulty Level: Medium
Prep Time: 20-30 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes
1 Pound of Ground Meat – Beef, Pork, or Veal works best. Aim for lean or medium meat as a little fat makes the dumplings moist.
1 Cup of Finely Chopped, Shelled Cooked Shrimp – About ten large shrimp will do, and feel free to use frozen ones, thawed in cold water.
2 Green Onions/Scallions Cleaned, and all but the fuzzy bit at the bottom, thinly sliced
1 Large Clove of Garlic, finely chopped or grated
1 Teaspoon of Fresh, Grated Ginger
1 Tablespoon of Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon of Oyster Sauce, Optional – This is an Asian sauce found in Oriental markets and the Asian foods section of a lot of major grocery stores. It adds a wonderful savory umami flavor to the wontons, but if you can’t eat shellfish and shellfish products, feel free to leave it out. You won’t be shellfish for doing so.
1 Pack of Wonton Wrappers – You can get these in Asian markets and some grocery stores. A pack will yield about a hundred wontons. If you can’t find em, there are tons of decent wrapper recipes online.
Water - OR – 1 Tablespoon of Cornstarch mixed with 1 Tablespoon of Water – OR – 1 Beaten Egg – To seal the wontons.
6 Cups of Water or Chicken Stock for boiling the wontons
LEMON SOY SAUCE
6 Tablespoons of Soya Sauce
3 Tablespoons of Lemon Juice
1 Drop of Sesame Oil, Optional
SPICY VINEGAR SAUCE
6 Tablespoons of White, Rice or Cane Vinegar
2 Tablespoon of your favorite Hot Sauce – I like Sambal Oelek or Sriracha, both Thai chili sauces, but use what you have or like.
1 Heaping Teaspoon of Sugar
1 Teaspoon of Fish Sauce – Available in Asian grocers and many major supermarkets
1 Tablespoon of Water
1 Clove of Garlic, peeled and smashed
1 Large Bowl or Plastic Container
1 Large Pot
1 Slotted Spoon
1 Knife and Cutting Board
3 Small Bowls
With clean hands mix all the wonton ingredients except the skins together until just combined.
You’re now ready to assemble them.
The shape of your wontons will depend on the shape of your wrappers. The ones you often see in restaurants are made with round wrappers which are folded in half around the filling and sometimes have crimped edges, resulting in pretty semi circles. My wonton wrappers are square, so I made mine by folding them over the filling and then pinching the furthest ends together. See the images below.
There are many ways to seal a wonton. I use plain water, which I use to moisten the ends of the wontons before sealing them by pinching the edges together. If water doesn’t work, feel free to use a beaten egg or add a bit of cornstarch to the water.
When sealing the wontons, be sure to pinch out any air bubbles so they don’t fall apart while boiling. It may look like a lot work but making these goes surprisingly fast once you get the hang of it. If you have kids, feel free to get them in on this. It’s kinda fun.
Bring a large pot of water or chicken stock to a boil.
While the liquid is heating, mix the ingredients for each sauce together in two separate bowls and set aside.
While the liquid is boiling, dump the wontons in 10 at a time. A minute after they float to the surface, they’re ready and you can scoop em out with a slotted spoon and put em in a serving dish.
Serve with dipping sauces.
-Samantha R. Gold
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