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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Wonton Soup

When we were back in Hawaii, we always used to pick up fresh sui gow and wonton skins from the Yat Tung Chow Noodle Factory in Honolulu's Chinatown. There's nothing like using freshly-made skins for making dumplings at home. When we moved to the Bay Area, though, we couldn't find a fresh noodle factory here in San Jose.

However, we did manage to find a noodle factory in Oakland's Chinatown. On the rare occasion we find ourselves in Oakland's Chinatown (usually to have wonton soup at Gum Kuo Restaurant), we also stop by Yuen Hop Noodle Company and pick up some wonton skins, sui gow skins and some fresh noodles.

Yuen Hop Noodle Company (Oakland, CA)

Yuen Hop Noodle Company (824 Webster St, Oakland, CA)

Now that the weather is getting cold, I am craving more soups and stew-type foods. This is perfect weather for a nice, hot bowl of wonton soup. But it's just too far for us to go all the way to Gum Kuo in Oakland for a bowl of wonton soup. Besides, I figure it's easy enough to make on my own.

Forget Fancy

Normally when I make wontons, I fill them with fancy fillings like chopped up water chestnuts, shiitake mushrooms, onions, green onions, carrots, shrimp and pork.

Wontons with Fancy Fillings

Wontons with Fancy Fillings

Not this time. This time, I really wanted to try to make it more "Hong Kong-style". Actually, I don't really know what "Hong Kong-style" is. Just that it doesn't seem to have much else in it besides a lot of shrimp and a little bit of pork.

Both styles are good but sometimes the simpler one hits the spot when you just want a cleaner flavor on your tastebuds. But being me, I couldn't resist sticking a little leftover jicama (chopped fine) and a bunch of green onions (minced) into the mix.

The good thing about making wontons (as opposed to potstickers), is that it is MUCH simpler and you don't need as much filling to make a large batch. And the wonderful thing is you can freeze these wontons so easily that the next meal will be even faster.

The skins I tend to buy is the Hong Kong style skin (which is much thinner than the regular wonton skins). You get more skins in one package and the flavors of the filling also come through better. It will normally state that it is HK style on the package so pay attention next time you go get some skin.

Hong Kong Style Wonton Wraps

Hong Kong Style Wonton Wraps

Now, I did want to mention something about the wrapping of wontons. Have you ever paid attention to the restaurant help at a Chinese restaurant when they are wrapping up their wontons? Basically, they just have a big shallow bowl of filling, and a stick-like object to push the filling to the side of the bowl onto the skin. Then, they just scrunch up the skin around the filling and move on to the next one. None of this fold-like-a-boat-and-seal-with-egg nonsense.

So I decided to try this method. And guess what? It is so easy and none of my wonton fillings fell out when being boiled. Course, I filled mine a little bit more than theirs but hey, that's the advantage of making them at home!

Filled Wontons

Filled Wontons

Simple Savory Soup

As for the broth for this meal, my mom taught me a really simple soup broth recipe. Just grab a half cup of dried ikan bilis (anchovies) and rinse them, then throw them in a pot and add some water. Half an hour later, you have a nice sweet, salty stock that is just right for wontons. But I hate that you have to fish out all these little anchovies and how it tends to make the soup not perfectly clear.

Well, I found the trick that works wonders. I bought these nifty little stock bags at Daiso. Even though they are not very large, using two of them filled with anchovies was enough to make soup for my family. The flavors infuse the broth but the broth remains perfectly clear (you don't even need to skim). When you're done boiling them, just pick up the bags and dump. And they work for just about any bouquet garni that you make too.

Stock Packs from Daiso

Stock Packs from Daiso

Wonton filling recipe

(enough for one package of HK style skins)

Ingredients
1.25 lbs ground pork
25 large shrimp (25-30 count), peeled and deveined and cut in half length-wise and then halved again (4 pieces total for each shrimp, giving about 100 pieces)
1/4 of a small jicama, diced fine (optional)
1 bunch green onions, diced fine
1 tsp chicken bouillon
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp salt

Method
1. Mix all ingredients together.
2. Set a small pot of water to boil. Make about 3-4 wontons and drop them in water to check that seasonings are sufficient. I always do this before making the rest because most times I just eyeball my seasonings. It's also good practice because different brands of soy sauce and fish sauce have different levels of saltiness. I use kosher salt which tends to be less salty than regular table salt. So all these differences may affect your filling (of course there is also the fact that you might like your food more or less salty).
3. Wrap the rest once you've assured that you have the right amount of seasoning. The easy way is to just put a small (about 1 1/2 tsp) amount of filling, making sure that one piece of shrimp makes it into each wonton and squeeze the wonton wrapper closed.

Simple wonton broth recipe

Ingredients
8 cups water
1/2 cup ikan bilis (dried anchovies)

ikan bilis (dried anchovies)

1 bunch choy sum or yu choy (or any other leafy greens like bok choy), washed and cut into 2 inch pieces.
salt and a little fish sauce to taste
a little sesame oil and white pepper for each individual bowl

Method
1. Wash ikan bilis and then stuff them into two stock bags.
2. Put water into large pot and add stock bags. Bring to boil and then simmer for roughly 30-45 mins. In the last 5 minutes, add vegetables. Taste and adjust seasonings adding salt and fish sauce if needed.
3. While stock is boiling, set a smaller pot of water to boil and cook the wontons separately in this pot. This keeps the soup stock from becoming too starchy and murky. Boil wontons (however many you want to eat) for about 6-8 mins and then using a slotted spoon transfer to soup pot.

Wontons Transferred to Soup Pot

Wontons Transferred to Soup Pot


4. Ladle into individual bowls and add a dash of sesame oil and white pepper.

Wonton Soup

IMG_0322

Enjoy!

Cheers, Annie

ps. yes I didn't add noodles this time. Sometimes, I like having just wontons. Normally, I like my wonton noodles kuon loh style (dry tossed). I will share that recipe with you in another post.

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Hungry for more dumplings? Click below:

HC Dumpling (Cupertino)

Pan-fried gyoza

Dim Sum @ Dynasty Restaurant (San Jose)

19 Comments:

MrOrph said...

This is a great wonton soup recipe! As much as I love wonton soup, I haven't gotten around to make it yet. This recipe is encouraging.

Manger La Ville said...

Wow,you make wonton making so easy. And that is a great trick with the broth. My favorite place to go for Wonton Soup is called Just Wonton in the Sunset. I have been going since I was a little girl and I just love and crave their soup.

[eatingclub] vancouver || js said...

Thanks for the tip about the easy broth! I want to try this.

Pepsi Monster said...

Hi Annie,

Thanks for the recipe on this wonton soup. Especially the broth. When I was a kid, you don't find too many dumpling houses as it is right now. So naturally we made our own dumplings at home. It takes some time especially the fillings. I don't quite know how many different pieces of ingredients for the dumplings.

Thanks for the tip!

shavedicesundays said...

I've never heard of those stock bags. Gotta look for them now. Thanks!

foodphotoblog.com said...

Really nice food photography. Keep up the great work!

Anonymous said...

I am not sure what to do for people with fish allergies?

Mrs. L said...

I love wonton soup and keep saying I need to try to make some. Last time I used wonton wrappers I filled them with Nutella and deep fried them :)

Christelle said...

sui gow is an absolute favorite for me, and I usually get it at my local chinatown (2 minutes walk, I know, lucky ;) in one particular restauirant where they are sooooo good!
But I will give it a try because I need to master the skill, just in case I'd have to move one day and miss them, lol!!
That's a brilliant present to post these!! So far as far as dim sum are concerned, I've only done gyoza and gow gees, with great success I must say. So I'm really hopeful for thyese :))

Vanessa said...

Oh my gosh this looks so good.

Wandering Coyote said...

Hey there,

Thanks for coming and visiting my site!

I have recently become a convert to the homemade wonton and now make them every so often. I don't put them in soup, but rather boil them and make a simple dipping sauce. I LOVE them. I have a #100 cookie scoop that portions the perfect amount for each wonton, but I have learned that not all wrappers are created equal; some are way better than others. Here is the recipe I usually use and there are a couple of other links in the post to others.

Wandering Coyote said...

PS. Have subscribed to your blog so I can keep up with you!

Jen said...

I have a craving for wonton soup almost daily. Thanks so much for this post!

chou said...

I love wonton soup.

Nate-n-Annie said...

MrOrph - The recipe is simple and tasty!

Manger LaVille - Thanks for the tip. We should go check it out sometime.

@JS - Those broth pouches make it so easy.

@Pepsi Monster - making dumplings at home is a fun experience.

@shavedicesundays - If you have a Daiso or other Japanese market nearby you, go check them out!

@foodphotoblog - thanks!

@Anonymous - a chicken or pork-based broth would work as well. But I don't think you could fit those into the stock pouches.

@Mrs L - Nutella rangoon? Sounds yummy!

@Christelle - I encourage you to try these. You might find them even easier than gow gee.

@Vanessa - thanks!

@Wandering Coyote - Thanks for the link, and thanks for the add!

@Jen - you're welcome ;-)

@chou - so do we!

Sapuche said...

Dear Annie: Thank you for posting this recipe! My wife and I just made it, and afterward we both agreed that it was one of the best meals we’ve ever had. Your suggestion of using the dashi pack was excellent; we used Japanese-made tea filters, and they worked excellently. The broth was so clean, and we didn’t need to add any salt or fish sauce for flavor; the dried anchovies were perfect for our tastes. My wife commented on how light the pork was, too, and then said it was probably from the meat’s oil cooking out in the separate small pot. Incidentally, for the two of us the recipe made enough for at least two meals. Again, thank you for sharing this! It was utterly amazing.

Nate-n-Annie said...

@Sapuche - thank you so much for commenting and telling us about your experience with our recipe! I'm glad it worked out well for you!

Kong-Kay said...

those japanese soup-stock packets work wonders. i got 3 varieties, but i don't what the heck they are, as the writings on the boxes are all in japanese; i think they are dashi and anchovies. anyway they all tastes great as a soup base for whatever other ingredients i throw in.

lishapisa said...

How pretty! somehow i find making wontons intimidating and you make it look so simple. Can't wait, like your fancy fillings too.
Thanks!
CookNg Sisters