Grandma's Wonton Soup
Some of my earliest memories are of sitting at the kitchen table, hands covered in cornflour, helping to fold these little parcels of plump, juicy, soupy goodness with my family.
It's the cosiest, comfiest thing on a cold night, and you'll be surprised at how quick and easy it is to prepare. I keep a pack of wonton skins and pork in the freezer at all times in case I need a midnight snack or extra food for after party hangouts at 2am. They're that easy to make.
Welcome to the family!
To make things (hopefully) easier for our global Voyagers, recipes have the terminology for US / Aus measurements and ingredients.
1 lbs / 500g ground pork
1 pkt wonton skins / gyoza wrappers (available from Asian grocers)
2-3 lbs / 1kg Chicken or pork bones
1 medium onion, loosely chopped
Salt and pepper
To jazz things up or add flavour (I would use most of these when preparing, unless it's 2am and I'm hungry)
1/2 bunch cilantro / coriander leaves
2-3 stems green onion / spring onion
1/3 cup shrimp / prawn meat, chopped
Bok choy for added veggies in the soup
To Make the Soup
Put the bones and onion in a large stock pot, and cover with water (the pot should be two-thirds full).
Add a splash of soy sauce and sesame oil, and a teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Simmer on medium, skimming the impurities that come to the top as it begins to cook.
You can also add a couple stems each of green onion and cilantro leaves to give your stock more flavour.
Leave simmering on medium-low heat while you make the wontons. If you've got time, make it a couple hours before you want to make the wontons (or more) as the longer you simmer the stock the better the flavours will be.
Pro-tip: I like to make the stock in the morning and then pop it into a slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours (if your slow cooker has a timer, use it, otherwise just set to low and leave it for the day).
Remember to skim for impurities at least once before you put it into the slow cooker, so you end up with a clearer soup. This way, you come home to a house that smells amazing, and you're all set to get on with making your wontons!
To Make Wontons
Finely chop the cilantro and green onions. Set aside 1/3 of the amount of each for garnish.
Combine the rest of the cilantro and green onions with the ground pork in a bowl.
Season with sesame oil, soy sauce, salt and pepper (I like to do: 1 tsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp soy sauce, a pinch of salt and a good crack or two of pepper from the grinder).
Set up your workspace to make the wontons - you'll need a chopping board or clean bench, a small bowl of water, and a plate or platter to put the finished wontons.
Lay out a few wonton skins (depending on the size of your chopping board / bench, I usually do between 4-6 at a time), and spoon a level teaspoon of the ground pork mix onto each.
Very important: My Dad always, ALWAYS taught us less is more when it comes to wonton filling. Especially if it's going into soup. You don't want the wonton bursting or being too full to cook properly in a short time.
To this day I still hear him yelling across the kitchen, "Not too much! Not too much!" whenever my brothers and I were making them when I was a kid. So remember:
NOT TOO MUCH!!!
They should look something like this:
Dip your finger into the water in the bowl, and trace along two sides of the wonton skin (like an "L" shape). This is to prep them for folding. Take the wonton in your hands and fold one corner of the wonton skin to it's opposite corner, so you end up with the wonton looking like a triangle. Press out the air from the wonton and smooth the edges to seal.
You've just folded your first wonton!
You can get fancy and fold the outer corners towards each other, to make a round dumpling shape, like this:
Don't stress if it's a bit tricky to get that shape right the first few times you make them - the key thing is to press out most of the air and to get a decent seal on the edges. You'll get the hang of the shapes the more you practice!
Fold as many as you need (I plan for 6 dumplings per person), and you can also make more and freeze them for a month or two, although they never last that long in our house!
When you're ready to cook them, bring a saucepan of water with a teaspoon of salt to boil - you want the saucepan big enough to boil 5-6 wonton at a time.
Bring the soup (in its own pot) to a simmer over medium heat, ideally on an element next to the saucepan (you're going to transfer the wonton from the saucepan to the soup for a final finish).
When your saucepan water is at a rolling boil, drop in 5-6 wontons, stirring gently with a slotted spoon to make sure they don't stick to one another or the pan. When the wontons float, transfer them to the soup to finish off the cooking and to give them extra deliciousness.
Simmer the wontons in the soup for 1-2 minutes, then scoop with a slotted spoon into bowls to serve. Once all the wontons you want to serve are cooked, ladle soup into the bowls, add cilantro and green onions and season with salt and pepper.
Hey presto - Grandma's wonton soup is served!