Southern Wontons

August 17, 2022
1 Ratings
Photo by Food52
  • Prep time 1 hour
  • Cook time 4 hours
  • Serves 6
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
Southern Wontons
  • Wontons
  • 1 packet wonton wrappers (yellow)
  • 1 pound 41/50 count shrimp, cleaned and peeled
  • 1 pound ground pork, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried flounder powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried shrimp roe (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, ground into powder
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 egg
  • Broth & Serving
  • 2 pounds pork bones, blanched and cleaned
  • 2 pieces (about 250 grams) dried flounder
  • 20 grams dried shrimp, soaked in water for at least 15 minutes
  • 1 pound bean sprouts
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon rock sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon MSG
  • 1 (12-ounce) package wonton noodles, divided for serving
  • 24 pieces wontons
  • 1/3 cup yellow chives, cut in ½” segments
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons shrimp roe, dried
  1. Wontons
  2. In a sieve set over a bowl, wash cleaned shrimp in cold running water for 3 min. Shock in ice water for 5 min and dry.
  3. Bring the filling together in a medium-sized metal bowl by combining pork, dried flounder powder, shrimp roe, sesame seed powder, soy sauce, sesame oil, white pepper, and egg. Using your fingers, combine the mixture with an aggressive pinching motion, mixing until the mixture begins to emulsify, about 5 min. Add the washed shrimp and mix well.
  4. To make wontons, place a wonton wrapper in one hand, diamond shaped. Place 1 tablespoon of wonton filling, including 2 pieces of shrimp, in the center of the wrapper. Fold one end of the wrapper over the filling. Bunch the other ends over the center and squeeze to seal, making a ping pong ball sized dumpling with a “gold fish tail”. 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 1 day, or freeze in a covered sheet tray.
  1. Broth & Serving
  2. Make the broth: In a stock pot, cover the pork bones with cold water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Let boil for an additional 3 min, allowing a thin layer of scum to form. Drain and wash the bones well.
  3. Return the blanched bones to a stock pot with dried flounder and dried shrimp and cover with water. Over medium heat, bring to a simmer and cook for around 3 ½ hours hours until lightly golden. Do not let the stock cook over 165-175℉ and occasionally skim if necessary. After 3 ½ hours, add the bean sprouts and bring to a simmer and let cook for 20 min. Finally, season with salt, msg, and rock sugar. Strain carefully through cheesecloth and set aside.
  4. To serve: Cook the wontons by boiling them in a generous pot of water for 3 min. Cook the noodles separately according to package instructions, around 1 ½ min.
  5. Divide soy sauce, sesame oil, shrimp roe, and yellow chive segments across the bottoms of six small bowls. Place the cooked noodles and wontons over the top of each bowl and pour over hot broth. Serve warm.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

1 Review

dadlanikaran20 February 19, 2023
Made these today! Really delicious wontons that remind me of home. Just a heads up, Lucas adds about a tsp of cornstarch (or perhaps potato starch)to the pork filling in the video - its not mentioned in the recipe! Seems pretty important to get it pasty