Mom always made ginormous batches of wontons so she could keep some in the freezer for later. To freeze uncooked wontons, lay them on a baking sheet so they don't touch and put the sheet in the freezer until the wontons are frozen solid. Once frozen, the wontons can be transferred to a freezer bag for storage. On a cold weeknight when you don't feel like cooking, take some out of the bag, allow them to thaw, and throw them into a pot of simmering broth for a comforting dinner.
I've adjusted the recipe to make a more modest number of wontons -- only about 100. I've also included instructions for the two most common ways of serving them, cooked in soup and fried. The soup recipe serves 2-4; the fried wonton recipe makes as many or as few as you need. Unless you're serving dozens of people, you'll still have some wontons left over for the freezer. Folding all of these will entail about an hour of meditative handiwork for one person, or a pleasant bonding experience for two.
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons minced scallions, both white and green parts
- ¾ cup finely shredded Chinese (Napa) cabbage
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 package wonton wrappers (available in the refrigerated or frozen foods sections of Asian specialty grocers or better supermarkets)
- 1 beaten egg or ¼ cup water
- Thoroughly combine all the ingredients save wrappers and the egg in a medium mixing bowl.
- Get ready to fold a wonton: Take a wonton wrapper and hold it in your non-dominant hand. Place about 1 heaping teaspoon of filling in the center of the skin. Using a knife or small pastry brush, wet the edges of the skin with water or egg.
- The first fold is simple: Fold the skin in half diagonally so that it completely encases the filling. Press the edges together, being mindful to squeeze out any air bubbles between the filling and the skin. Be sure the edges are completely sealed, with no gaps.
- The second fold tends to throw people. Your half-folded wonton now looks like a triangular turnover, with one perpendicular corner and two "arms" (long, sharp corners). Dip one of the "arms" of the wonton into egg or water. Then pull it toward the other arm and press the arms together so that the top surface of one of them is firmly glued to the bottom surface of the other.
- The finished wonton should look something like this:
- Repeat 2-4 until the filling and/or wonton skins are exhausted. (Any leftover skins can be wrapped tightly in plastic and stored in the freezer for use with the next batch. Any leftover filling can be rolled into small balls and dropped into soup as meatballs.) Keep folded wontons and skins covered while you work so they don't dry out.
- To cook, simply add the wontons to a large pot of vigorously boiling water until they float and the skins look wrinkly. Or use the soup or fried wonton methods below.
For wonton soup: Heat one quart of chicken broth in a pot until it starts to boil. Carefully place about 12 wontons in the pot along with any meat and/or vegetables you'd like to add. (Mom used wonton soup as a convenient repository for leftovers.) When the wontons float to the top of the broth and look wrinkly and translucent, they're done. Toss two thinly sliced scallions over the soup as a garnish. This amount will serve two people as a lunch, or four people as an opener to a larger meal.
For fried wontons: Heat about 2 inches of neutral cooking oil (such as canola) in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. When it's hot enough to make a drop of water sizzle on impact, add wontons, one at a time. The number that you can add will depend on the size of your pan, but you don't want them close enough to touch each other. Fry until the undersides are golden brown; flip and fry until the second side is also golden brown. Immediately remove from the oil, drain well on paper towels, and serve hot with sweet and sour or hoisin sauce.