Northern Wontons

August 17, 2022
2 Ratings
Photo by Food52
  • Prep time 1 hour
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

All wontons are dumplings but not all dumplings are wontons. Wontons, specifically, are a special type of slippery, silky, and wonderfully uneven dumplings. The filling is simple and the wrapper is thin and generous. Because of their simplicity, they take wonderfully to soups and robust sauces, and lively garnishes.

Almost every region of China has its own variation of wonton, each of which goes by its own name. For this video, we’ll focus on two wonton variations: one from the north and the other from the south. Northern wontons, hundun 馄饨, translate to “irregular dumpling” and are small dumplings wrapped in an excess of a slippery, silky white wrapper eaten similarly to how noodles are eaten: in copious quantities in an elegant broth. Southern wontons, yuntun 云吞, on the other hand, translate to “cloud swallow.” Southern wontons are plump, juicy affairs: whole shrimp and well seasoned minced pork are stuffed inside thin, yellow wrappers and served with noodles in a shrimp based broth.

This video will demonstrate the basic construction and physics of wontons, how to store them, how to cook them, and how to eat them. We’ll feature a slew of related techniques: emulsifying meat fillings, sealing/wrapping, boiling dumplings, building clear broths, cooking noodles, and making finishing oils.

As for the ingredients, you should be able to find most in a regular grocery store or specialty store that sells east Asian groceries (our favorite online store is Umamicart for this very reason!). Dried flounder powder may be one of the harder ingredients to find, even in some east Asian markets, and can always be ordered online if needed. However, it’s an important part of the traditional recipe, so it’s worth searching for. In a pinch, you can use dried pollack. The other ingredient that you may struggle to find is Chinese laver seaweed, which is round seaweed sheets (rather than the usual rectangular), used to make Northern Wontons. If you can find these discs in the grocery store, you can purchase them online. —Lucas Sin

Lucas Sin

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Northern Wontons
  • Scallion-Ginger Water & Wontons
  • 1 (1/2-inch) knob ginger, sliced
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 pound pork, minced
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch white pepper
  • 1 pinch sichuan peppercorn
  • 16 ounces thin, white square wrappers
  • Broth
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried shrimp, or shrimp skin 虾皮
  • 20 grams dried Chinese seaweed 紫菜
  • 2 scallions green, sliced thinly
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  1. First, make the scallion-ginger water: In a small bowl, combine scallions and ginger. Bring ¼ cup water to a boil and pour over the scallions and ginger. Let sit to infuse for 30 min. Drain and let cool. You'll need 3 tablespoons of ginger-scallion water to make the wonton filling.
  2. In a larger bowl, combine pork, egg white, corn starch, sesame oil, salt, white pepper, and sichuan peppercorn. Add a splash of the cooled scallion-ginger water. Using your hands, mix the pork in one direction, encouraging long protein strands to develop. Continue to mix and gradually add water until the 3 tablespoons of water has been used up and the mixture has begun to emulsify. This step can also be done in a food processor.
  3. To make wontons, place a wonton wrapper in one hand, diamond shaped. Place 1 teaspoon of wonton filling in the bottom third of the wrapper. Fold the bottom side upwards over the filling, then roll the filling all the way through the other side of the wrapper. Bind the left and right ends together and press to seal. As you make the wontons, cover them with a damp paper towel to prevent them from drying out. Store, covered, in a fridge for up to 2 days, or freeze in a covered sheet tray.
  4. To cook the wontons, heat a large stock pot of water over medium heat until boiling. Add 10 to 20 wontons at a time until they float to the surface. Continue to cook until the wrappers swell, around 2 more minutes. Once cooked, remove the wontons with a slotted spoon or spider and place wontons in a bowl of cool, room temperature water to complete the starch gelatinization process. Do not let the wontons sit in the water for more than 10 seconds.
  5. To build a quick broth, bring chicken stock to boil. In a separate small bowl, combine all the broth ingredients. Pour hot stock over the ingredients, mix, and season to taste.
  6. Place the cooked wontons in the soup and serve warm.

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