wontons: wrapped, unwrapped.

When I was growing up, we would often eat out, Chinese style, for Sunday lunches.  My parents would take my groggy brother and I to loud, gritty restaurants (loud/gritty = better food, naturally), and slouching in cracked vinyl chairs we would order giant bowls of steaming noodles and dumplings.  Everything set before us would swim in light, delicious broth; these were meals of great comfort that would lull us awake, but keep us sedated and calm enough to not worry about Monday morning.

Making wontons at home is definitely a longer process than going to a restaurant and waiting for a waitress to plunk a bowl of them in front of you, but if you have the time and patience, it is worth it.  Moreover, there is a very meditative quality to the repetitive actions of filling and folding the wrappers…before long, you will become one with the wonton.

If you are short on time, an equally delicious alternative is to make little patties out of the wonton filling and fry them – this is a supremely excellent way to consume pork and shrimp, oh yes indeedy.

wontons in the making

Pork and shrimp wontons

makes 30-40 wontons, depending on how much you try to stuff into each wrapper

1 lb raw, peeled, de-veined, de-tailed shrimp
1 lb ground pork
a generous splash each of soy sauce and fish sauce
a good shake of ground garlic
a healthy sprinkle of sugar
a little bit of grated fresh ginger
a tsp or so of corn starch
1 package of wonton wrappers, thawed

Finely chop the shrimp.  Mix everything together in a big bowl (this is fun to do with your hands!).  Next, set up your assembly line: having a little bowl of water close by, lay out about a dozen wonton wrappers.  Plop a teaspoon of filling into the center of each one.  Dip your finger into the water, and wet two adjacent edges of the wonton wrapper.  Fold the wrapper in half to make a triangle, and pinch the edges shut.  If you can, squeeze out any air pockets.  Take the two far edges together and pinch together.  Now the wonton looks like a little chef hat, sort of like this:

wontons ready to cookContinue working in your self-imposed sweat shop until all the wrappers or filling are used.  Freeze wontons in layers of wax paper for eating later if you like.  When you are ready to eat them, drop them (without thawing) into boiling water and cook until the shrimp turns pink, maybe 5-10 minutes.  It is best to avoid overcrowding the wontons in the water so they don’t stick to each other.  Serve in a light chicken broth studded with diced green onion.

That is how you make wontons, wrapped – yay!

If you are unorthodox and go unwrapped, mix together the wonton filling, and then form into patties of 2″ diameter.  It might be nice to add some minced cilantro or green onions, but only if you care enough to.  Fry in vegetable oil over medium-high heat until browned and cooked through.  Yumyumyum!

Ooh, perhaps you could serve the wonton patties in a big leaf of iceberg lettuce.  Then they would still be wrapped, but very nouvelle.  Hm…I think I know what I’m having for dinner!

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