Won Ton soup from scratch - recipes please
November 22, 2005 1:25 AM   Subscribe

Won Ton soup from scratch - recipes please

When I follow the recipes I got from the various cookbooks I have, the results are fair to good. But compared to what I get at my favorite restaurants, especially my broth is a bland affair. Any suggestions for favorite wonton fillings? What is your family secret for the perfect dough? Who reveals the secret ingredients for the soup? While I enjoy the wonders of MSG - and I seem to be the only Mefite around - there must be more to it. Any suggestions for sidedishes to serve this soup as a meal are also welcome.
posted by ouke to Food & Drink (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My best approximation of a good won ton:

Mashed-up shrimp (to make a gluey substance)
Whole chunks of shrimp (for texture)
Good sesame oil

I find that getting that nice bite of sesame oil when you bite in is crucial to the experience.

As for broth, make a basic chicken broth but include some pork bones or other miscellaneous meat scraps.

Scallions on top are very good.
posted by rxrfrx at 5:04 AM on November 22, 2005

Here is my all-time favourite won ton soup recipe. I use raw, chopped shrimp instead of canned; a whole egg instead of the whites; and an extra splash of soya sauce and sesame oil. I also use home made chicken broth (the link provides a recipe), sliced shitake mushrooms and I skip the snow peas. I use store-bought wrappers and there are two kinds in my Asian grocery store: papery beige thin ones or thick white ones. Both work well, however, the papery ones boil too thinly and the thicker ones are what I'm used to in restaurants. Top up filled soup bowls with chopped green onions and chow mein.

The link also provides suggestions for what to have with the soup to make it a meal.

And if you make too many, you can freeze the won tons individually on a cookie sheet after you've boiled them. Put won tons and soup stock in separate freezer bags. Re-heat the soup stock to simmering, turn off the heat and add the frozen won tons. You don't want to over cook them by boiling the stock too furiously as the wrappers will fall apart.

Kudos to you for making your own wrappers. That's more work than I'm willing to do!
posted by KathyK at 6:05 AM on November 22, 2005

For the filling:

Ground pork
Scallions chopped very fine
minced garlic
minced ginger
sesame oil
soy sauce

Sorry I can't give measurements. I just know when it smells right.

I use store bought wrappers. Making them at home is a) a huge pain, b) likely to give spotty results, c) no better tasting that the store bought.

As for the broth, any homemade chicken stock or storebought broth will do, with the addition of some Five Spice and chopped scallions.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 7:55 AM on November 22, 2005

If you have Molly O'Neill's New York Cookbook, Jenny Leung's Winning Wontons have always gone over well in OG-land. Don't know if it's worth buying the book just for that one recipe, though everything I've tried in it is pretty good.
posted by Opposite George at 8:11 AM on November 22, 2005

For the filling - instead of ground pork, MINCE the pork yourself. Worlds of difference.

MSG is great. A little goes a looong way. For the soup, try boullion from Knorr (I mix 1/4 shrimp, 1/4 ham, 1/2 turkey or chicken).
posted by PurplePorpoise at 11:36 AM on November 22, 2005

rxrfrx: love your trick with the mashed up & the chunky bits. I sometimes do this with pumpkin when I make a risotto. KathyK: will certainly try the recipe, I am curious what the water chestnuts will add to the bite. I'm trying to make the thicker variety with rice flour and I know it's going to be a pain to do it, so I'll buy some for back up, but I promised the kids they could help and messing around with flour adds to the fun. ereshkigal45, I'll split the broth in two pans and will add a pinch of 5 spices to one and will then compare, I never would have thought to put this to a broth. OG: will have a look in American bookshops, I'm cooking in the Old World here. Your self-mincing reference makes sense, also now I can go out and buy something kitchen hardware and do you mean the chinese Won Ton bouillon by Knorr? (Damn, I always hide all of those cans behind the bags of rice in our Chinese supermarket, I want that to be MY secret, but maybe after all your tips I don't need it anymore) As I am not familiar with the different Chinese Brands, I always buy Sesame Oil that is not the cheapest one, any other suggestions how I can tell the good from the bad sesame oil? Thanks all.
posted by ouke at 1:33 PM on November 22, 2005

Good grade sesame oil has a very strong smell. Better tends to be darker, but that's not always the case. Just a little should go a long way.

Mincing - wooden chopping board, use long knife to cut pork into thin slices. Rotate 90' and cut again. You now have some smallish pieces of pork, but not small enough. A cleaver is ideal for the next step but a hatchet or your largest kitchen knife can suffice in a pinch. Make sure it's sharp. Sharp. Sharp. Whack the heck out of the pork, scraping the stuff from the edges back into the central pile. Rotate the chopping board and whack it some more until you get minced pork. Rotate, whack, repeat as necessary.

Messy and it takes effort (if your wrist starts getting sore, take a rest - and make sure the cutting/chopping board is at a comfortable level), but minced pork >>> ground pork. You won't regret the hard work.

Also, don't overcook the wonton (they float when it's cooked).

Knorr Won Ton boillion. lol. I didn't know they made a specific boullion. I just mix & match different boullions until I got a flavour that I liked. Also, boullion can "go bad" if it's been sitting on the grocer's shelf for several years.

If you're adding MSG to the soup, add it after you've turned off the stove/broth-is-no-longer-boiling. High heat is supposed to do bad things to MSG (hmm, there's no *real* reason why people are "allergic" to MSG - maybe it's that they're having a reaction to heat-damaged MSG and not MSG itself?).

I wonder... are you into congee? (lo mein - wonton - congee is a food-group triumvirate)
posted by PurplePorpoise at 2:32 PM on November 22, 2005

Oh, a less messy but slightly more hazardous way of mincing:

When you have your pile of pork bits, grasp it in an overhand fashion and slowly extrude it between your thumb and forefinger. As the pork creeps past your fingernails, use an extremely sharp (longish, no serrations) to slice. Repeat as often as necessary but be careful of lopping off fingertips/fingernails.

Hmm, I wonder how well a food processor with large blades would work in mincing, but not grounding, meat?

If you can get it, fresh wonton noodle, even frozen, is superior to the dry variety. Also, you can find wonton noodles with "shrimp eggs" imbued into it.

As for sides, stir-fried gai lan with a little oyster sauce dribbled over it is pretty standard. Stir-fried pea sprouts (pea, not bean) with diced garlic is overtaking the old tried-and-true gai lan (you can also flavour this with a little fermented bean curd and sugar).

Roasted meat, BBQ pork, swan feet, pig ear, or chili tripe are also pretty standard accompanying fares for wonton.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 2:44 PM on November 22, 2005

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