Wontons…I hope

I haven’t decided whether or not I believe in reincarnation.  If there is such a thing, though, I am fairly certain that I was Asian in a past life.  Today, unfortunately, the closest I am to Asian family is a couple of half-Chinese cousins.  Basically, I am the whitest white girl you will ever meet.  Therefore, having no Asian blood in me whatsoever, I cannot even pretend to call myself an authority on Asian cooking.  Don’t get me wrong – I love Asian food: I can eat it like there is no tomorrow, scarfing down exotic dishes, every piece deftly picked up with chopsticks (my chopstick technique has been praised by my native Asian friends).  But when it comes to me actually cooking Asian food of any kind, my kitchen confidence drains from me.  So please don’t laugh at my wontons.

I made friends with one of my classmates in college, the first actual Chinese person with whom I had ever spent an extended amount of time.  The most talented pianist I knew at the time, she was also a marvelous cook.  I begged her to teach me to cook something authentically Chinese.  And so I learned to make wontons.

There were several ingredients for which she didn’t have English translations – I’m fairly certain one of them was MSG – but the basic gist of the recipe was ground pork, shredded Nappa cabbage, green onions, minced ginger and red pepper flakes. There were no measurements; a tiny spoonful was microwaved and tasted to test the flavor.  I suppose the nice thing about that method is that the recipe can be modified to fit the chef’s tastes.  Finally, the small lumps of mixed ingredients were wrapped in thin sheets of pastry, sealed with a bit of water brushed on with a finger.

Every couple months I try to make wontons.  A pound of ground pork will make enough to last me a few months.  I assemble all the wontons, place them on a large cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, then freeze them. Once they have frozen solid I move them into ziplock bags and return them to the freezer.  (If you place them in the bags first then the wontons get squished and lose their shape.)

My favorite method of cooking them, and probably the easiest, is steaming. Lately I’ve just been filling my rice cooker with water, oiling the steam basket with a bit of canola oil and letting the little babies cook.  It takes about fifteen to twenty minutes to cook completely, and that’s from frozen – not a difficult meal.

I usually dip them in a mixture of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and ground red pepper.  It makes for a simple meal, but it is quite hearty and delicious.

For all I know, I may be making wontons the wrong way.  But I do know that I like my recipe, and I tend to go with what works.  If anyone out there is actually versed in the art of Asian cuisine, though, I would be more than happy to take a few pointers.


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Joy
    Feb 06, 2009 @ 11:32:44

    Damn you Megan, you made me really want wontons!!! And more than ONE!!! They look delicious. I LOVE them in soup. I’m gonna try this. It looks very easy and it’s my kind of thing to putter around with. Man, I’m getting giddy at the thought. Do you buy the wonton wrappers already made?


  2. maleesha
    Feb 06, 2009 @ 14:37:43

    So are you saying that there is a proper way to use chopsticks? You aren’t supposed to stab the wontons with them, ala fork? Hmm.

    Now I want Chinese food.


  3. Gary
    Feb 06, 2009 @ 15:02:36

    I’m going to have to try these! They sound delicious!!!


  4. megan
    Feb 06, 2009 @ 22:20:49

    Joy: Yep – I am neither talented nor patient enough to make wonton wrappers from scratch, so I buy them pre-made.

    maleesha: Apparently, there IS a proper chopstick technique. Go get some Chinese food.

    Gary: Have at it, and let me know how yours turn out.


  5. Mike
    Feb 08, 2009 @ 12:22:16


    these look nicer…. much nicer than my pb&j


  6. Matt
    Feb 08, 2009 @ 17:52:06

    I can pick up a single grain of rice with a chopstick, sadly though it’s rarely the amount of rice I am aiming for.

    I don’t think I’ve tried Wontons, are they a bit like a Chinese ravioli or more like Dim Sum?

    You’re probably going to say that they’re like neither, they’re umm Wontons. In that case, I knew it!


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