“Wontons,” which are the anglicized form of two Chinese words that literally mean “small dumpling,” are greatly enjoyed by Asians. In fact, wontons have a storied history stretching back to even before the medieval times. You asked for it, it’s this weekend’s asian food feature.
The stuffed dumpling, as humble as it seems, is a canto dish with an even more fascinating history. The wonton’s history spans across many centuries and a variety of cultures. Let’s start with Marco Polo, who was flabbergasted to find the Chinese he discovered in the 13th Century eating stuffed noodles. (Lasagna/Pasta anyone?) Italians weren’t the only people to find it delectable. Russians, Siberians, even the ill-fated Jews have their own “copycat” wontons.
Now why would people from all around the world love the Wonton? Is it the crunchy wonton wrapper after being deep-fried? Is it the savory seasoned minced pork filling? Or is it the extreme versatility and portability? Yes. It’s all those things and more. Asians love the wonton, which is sometimes synonymous with the dumpling, because of:
The Choices: There’s the fried wonton, steamed wonton, wonton soup with pork and shrimp filling, crisp-burnt wontons, and the increasingly popular Vegetarian Wonton (which makes many asians believe that they are doing themselves a favor by eating a fresh green treat that has been wrapped by a layer of dough and then deep fried). There’s also…
The Ease of Preparation: Wontons are seasoned meat fillings wrapped in dough. Asians love quick fixes, so wontons enable them to mass produce food much like many of the sweatshops they left in their native countries. That is why they are so popular in Dim Sum Restaurants (save for later post).
Whether it’s in an evening snack, or causing a heart attack, asians love their fried food. This is especially true when the food has been imitated around the world. But that’s beside the point. Asians like the Wonton for its extreme versatility and production ability, two very important factors determining the Asian GDP (Gross Domestic Product).
Do You Want to Learn how to Make Dumplings?
Shrimp and Pork Asian Dumplings (via thePauperedChef)
1/2 pound of shrimp, peeled and roughly chopped
2 oz of ground pork
6 water chestnuts, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons dry vermouth
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons Oyster Sauce
1 teaspoon Sesame Oil
1/2 egg white
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 green onions, minced
1 package of wonton wrappers
salt and pepper
Adapted from the Cooks Illustrated.
Fill a large pot with water so that it comes within an inch of the top. Get that sucker boiling.
Now it’s time to break out those wontons. For the pyramid dumplings, simply take one of the squares and lightly wet the edges. Fill it with roughly 1-2 teaspoons of the filling. Use less than you think you’ll need at first, and then test your luck as you get more confident.
I should have a better diagram than this, but it’s pretty easy. Just pull up two opposite sides and pinch together the top. Repeat on the other side.
For the regular pot-stickers, you’ll need a round wonton. Cooks illustrated suggested using a cookie cutter to get that nice cutout. A glass works fine, too.
Once you have the circle, wet the edges like before. Then put a teaspoon of filling in and fold in half. Pinch the edges.
Once the edges are secured, press down on the filling lightly to make a flat bottom so that the dumpling will stand up.
Then simply toss your dumpling in a steamer over top the boiling water and cook for 6 minutes.
It really couldn’t be much easier.
Oh, and a nice dipping sauce will enhance everything.
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