It's beautiful outside. My roses are blooming, the birds are singing, my nose is stuffy and I sneeze constantly. It's the price to pay for the majesty of spring. I decided my nasal congestion entitled me to make one of my favorite comfort foods, Wonton soup. I''ve been in love with it since we met. I was 19 years old and it was my first visit to the Peking Restaurant in West Lafayette, Indiana. I looked at the soup and saw perfection. The broth was crystal clear, but full of rich chicken flavor. The wontons looked like plump little pillows, cooked just before they served me the soup. Resting on top of were a few slivers of Chinese roasted pork. I lived in West Lafayette for several years and ate many bowls of that marvelous soup. Imagine my surprise when we moved away and I began to encounter the soggy, overcooked wonton soup so often served in other restaurants. It's a shame. And it doesn't have to be that way people!! Buy yourself a package of wonton wrappers and make some soup the way it was intended.
By the way, wonton wrappers are pasta, so that means it's just perfect for Presto Pasta Nights, created by Ruth at Once Upon A Feast. The Roundup should be this Thursday, so stop by and see all the different pasta dishes.
There are many different recipes for wonton soup. I've made it with leftover Thanksgiving turkey and chopped Chinese roast pork. But, my favorite recipe
uses ground pork and shrimp. Sometimes I've replaced the pork with
ground turkey (the kind that contains dark meat) and it tasted fine. I
think the filling isn't as important as the wonton wrappers.
Making the wonton is simple, but it takes some time. Always cover your wonton wrappers with a cloth, as they dry out quickly when exposed to air. Never let them sit uncovered, as they are in the picture.
I always enjoy making them with another person. I miss the times my mother and I prepared them,
arguing about the proper way to make them. She felt each one
should be perfect, stuffed with exactly the same amount of filling. I
prefer a free form method, and not one my wontons are ever exactly
alike. I often use several different methods of shaping each dumpling,
which annoyed mom immensely. Here's the method which most people use. You'll find directions for this on the package the wrappers come in.
As you can see, my wontons are rather haphazardly rolled. But, that's OK because they'll taste like little heavenly clouds when they're cooked. You can freeze them at this point and use them at your leisure. Just drop them into some boiling water or broth. I never cook my wontons in the broth because the wrappers are dusted with a light layer of cornstarch, to prevent them from sticking together. That will make your broth a little cloudy. So, I boil them in water.
Once they are done (in this case it took about 4 minutes) scoop them out and put them in a serving bowl, then add the broth. If you cook wontons and let them sit in hot broth too long, it will destroy the character of the lovely thin pasta. So, they should be eaten as soon as possible after they're cooked. You can cover the raw wontons with plastic wrap and put them in the fridge for several hours, until you're ready to use them.
For the wontons:
1/2 lb. ground pork (you can substitute ground turkey)
1/4 lb. peeled shrimp, chopped
1/4 cup finely minced green onions
2 Tbs. light soy sauce
1 Tbs. dry sherry
2 tsp. Asian sesame oil
1 tsp. minced ginger root
Salt, to taste, if needed
1 package (1 lb.) wonton wrappers
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth simmered with
3 or 4 slices peeled fresh ginger for 10 to 15
1 large bunch spinach, tough stems removed,
leaves washed and cut into wide strips
To make the wontons, in a medium bowl, combine the pork, shrimp, and green onions. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, soy sauce, sherry, sesame oil and ginger juice. Stir the egg mixture into the pork mixture, mixing well. Bring a saucepan three-fourths full of water to a boil, add a small ball of the pork mixture to the water, and poach until cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain, taste and adjust the seasonings with soy sauce, ginger root or a little salt.
To assemble the wontons, lay out a wrapper and place a teaspoon or so of the mixture in the center of each wrapper. Dip your finger in water and spread along two edges of each wrapper. Fold each in half on the diagonal to form a triangle and press the seams to seal securely. Place on a baking sheet. Repeat until all the stuffing is used; you should have about 48 wontons. Wrap any leftover wrappers airtight and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Refrigerate the wontons until needed.
In a large saucepan, bring the broth to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low to maintain a gentle simmer. At the same time, bring a large saucepan half-full of water to a boil. Carefully drop the wontons into the boiling water. When the water returns to a boil, add 1 1/2 cups cold water. When the water returns to a boil, add 1 more cup cold water. Return to a boil again, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the filling is cooked through, about 4-5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the wontons to the simmering broth. Add the spinach and simmer until it wilts, about 1 minute.
To serve, ladle the soup into 6 large warmed bowls, dividing the wontons evenly. Serves 6.