Anatomy of a wonton soup recipe
A good wonton soup recipe should have instructions and ingredients on the following components:
- ingredient list for the wonton filling
- instructions on how to wrap the wonton
- instructions on how to cook the wonton
- ingredients for the wonton soup
- instructions on how to put the wontons and soup together
1. Wonton Fillings
Although there are many recipes for wontons, the variations are mostly in the ingredients used for the fillings. The most popular ingredient is ground pork. However, ground beef, chicken, prawns, fish and tofu are possible substitutes.
If you are going to substitute pork with beef, chicken, or lamb, you might want to introduce a little fat so that the filling won't be dry. Chinese chefs usually add fatty pork to increase juiciness (now you know the secret).
The attraction of the wonton is the delightful burst of flavour and juiciness when we bite into a wonton. The filling plays a very important role here. Not only must the ingredients be fresh, they must be well-mixed.
Tip for a well-mixed wonton filling
- Mix the ingredients together and season appropriately
- Fold the ingredients until a certain stickiness occur
- Wrap the mixture in clingwrap and leave in the fridge to stand for about 20 minutes
- If mixture is too dry, add some moisture, 1 teaspoon at a time
- Moisture can be water, soup stock, or stock jelly
Avoid adding too much moisture as it makes the mixture too wet and hard to use.
Here are some recipes for wonton fillings.
2. Wrapping the wontons
A good wonton soup recipe should have clear instructions on how to wrap wontons.
I documented 8 different wonton folding styles at the how to fold wontons page. There are step-by-step instructions, pictures of wontons before and after boiling, and video clips for 2 of the styles.
3. Wonton soup
I wrote about the wonton soup at this page: wonton soup page. You will find recipes for 3 wonton soups.
3. Cooking the wontons
Many wonton recipes I came across have instructions to cook wontons straight in the soups to be served.
Don't do that!
Imagine all your hard work wrapping the beautiful wontons, and making a good clear flavorsome broth only to be sabotaged at the last moment by boiling the wontons in the soup.
Why you shouldn't boil wontons in the soup:
- Wonton wrappers are covered with flour to prevent them from sticking together. If they are cooked directly in the soup, the flour will affect the flavour and texture of the soup.
- If you cook the wontons in the soup, there is a tendency to leave the wontons floating in the soup before serving. The wontons may turn mushy.
The correct way to cook wontons:
- Cook the soup as directed by the recipe
- Bring another pot of water to the boil. Add a little oil
- Drop the wontons gently into the boiling water. Initially, they will sink to the bottom. Stir the pot to prevent any wonton from getting stuck to the bottom. Boil the wontons until they float to the surface of the water. This means the filling within the wonton is cooked
- Drain and transfer the won tons directly into soup bowls for serving (it is better to scoop the wontons out with a slotted spoon than to use a colander)
- When it is time to serve, pour the soup over the won tons and garnish as desired.
- Throw in a few drops of sesame seed oil & white pepper before serving.
Last point: avoid cooking wontons too early before serving. Cooked wonton skin become rubbery and dry if left too long in the air.
So there you have it, the anatomy of a good wonton soup recipe.