Making the wontons takes time, so pick a night when you aren’t going to be rushing about with starving munchkins stating the obvious. “I’m so hungry” “When is dinner?” “Is it NOW?” “Can I have a carrot?” “A biscuit” “Anything?” And of course, you have to read those words in ‘annoying, whingy, tired kid voice’. Not something anyone wants as part of their life.
So pick a quiet day with lots of time. I did this on my day off, when no-one goes to work or daycare or after school care. The day when we don’t have any other activities. It takes some organising but I like to have one day a week where we all just come home from school and play. Unstructured play is the modern word for it, which just makes me want to roll my eyes. Isn’t play just play?
Using pinyin (English characters), wontons are called húntun in Manderin while in Cantonese, they are yúntūn. Either way, they are little dumplings that come in many, many varieties of flavour, and shapes.
The soup itself is pretty basic, just a simple broth really, but it allows the flavours in the wontons to shine. This recipe ended up making enough soup for two nights. So when you spread the time it takes across two nights, then it’s worth the initial drama. For the second day, just heat the whole soup up to a boil and eat.
7am – Remember that Roo and Pork Burger mix we did? And how the leftover pattie mixture was put in the freezer for another day. Today is the day, so take it out for defrosting. Preferably somewhere that will stay in the shade all day. Finish the morning routine, get everyone out the door and go to work. Today is my day off, so it was off to school to chat with the other parents, get a haircut and do a whole bunch of domestic tasks.
5pm – We got home from school at 3.30, and played, read books, and generally relaxed on our day away from work. I’m glad I started doing the wontons at five, as they took quite a while to make. 45 minutes to be precise!
- Roo and pork burger pattie mixture
- Wonton wrappers
- Chicken stock cube
- Chinese vegetables*
- Bean sprouts (mung beans)
- Chili (optional)
- Spring onion (optional)
How to prepare
Using store-bought wrappers, place a teaspoon amount of mince in the centre of the wrapper. Dip your finger into a cup of cold water and run it around the edge of the wrapper. This wetting process creates the glue that holds the wonton together.
There are heaps of ways of folding dumplings, but I have used round wrappers and this simple way taught to me by one of the parents at school. She is a Nepalese immigrant, and I can’t quite do the one handed method she uses, but this way works too.
Fold the wrapper in half with the mince in the centre. In a twisting motion, pinch together the two sides, and create little folds with your fingers that help hold the whole thing together. Ideally, you should also ensure there is no air left inside the wonton, otherwise they will split open when cooked. Mine were not always successful, but mostly ok.
5.45pm – Phew, finally finished making 58 wontons. Now for the soup.
How to cook
Using a big pot, place in the chicken stock and water until boiling. Then add the bean sprouts, before adding the wontons. Once they are all in, add the noodles, and chopped coriander.
Slice the chinese vegetables lengthwise. I used bok choy today, but any of the variants can be used to the same effect. If your local vegetable shop doesn’t have chinese vegetables, you could use cabbage or kale (a bit bitter though), or even broccoli. By cutting them lengthwise, you end up with long noodle-shaped vegetables. You can also add spring onions and chili at this point. Ahh, spring onions. I was so sure that I had some in the fridge, but of course, when I started to cook this, of course, there was one slightly slimy one left over. So it went in the bin (too acidic for the worm farm) and not in the soup.
How to serve
Serve the soup in bowls and put a bit of cracked pepper over the top. Remind the kids that it is hot. I sprinkled some chopped chili on my husband’s bowl as he likes a bit of spice in his.
6.15pm – Eat. This one took over an hour thanks to the wonton making, but we had enough leftovers to eat it again tomorrow or the next day. I’ll save it for a day when we are too busy to contemplate cooking. All it needs is to be boiled up again (although the wontons may fall apart completely with all that extra boiling).
For the hard out version of this recipe check out Chef ScottyB’s Wondrous wontons.