There’s always a lot of interest, new and renewed, in Chinese food during the Lunar New Year. And that’s true even among non-Chinese. One dish that is universally loved is wonton. So, I dug up this old tutorial for those who want to try making wonton at home.
What is wonton?
Wonton is a Chinese dumpling served with broth. It’s sibling, the jiaozi, is served with a dipping sauce.
There is more than one way to wrap and fold wonton
From a simple triangle to envelope style to Taiwan style to various Chinese styles, wrapping wonton is both an art and a skill. I remember watching how wontons were wrapped and folded in Chinatown once and I was wide-eyed with amazement at how fast the women did the job. Well, we’re not that fast but we’re careful enough not to tear the wonton skins and to make sure that the filling is completely sealed.
This is how we wrap and fold wonton at home, the way Kylie Kwong did in one of the episodes of her My China series on her TV show.
Working with wonton skin
First, you need wrappers. You can make your own or you can buy them in packs of 100 in supermarkets or Oriental stores. Wonton skins come in different sizes. I prefer the medium ones. Choose the size that you think you can work with best.
When working the wonton skins, it is important not to separate them all at once. Wonton skins dry up fast. Take four or five first and cover the remaining stack with a damp tea towel. When you’ve finished filling and wrapping one batch, take more from the stack and work on another batch, and so on.
Use just the right amount of filling; wet the edges of the wonton skin
Do not be tempted to use too much filling. How well made a wonton is does not depend on the amount of filling but, rather, on the quality of the filling and the wonton itself — meaning, the wonton must hold its shape after cooking. Use only a teaspoonful of filling per wonton so that you can fold and wrap it comfortably without the skin bursting.
When making wontons, it is a good idea to have a cup of water within reach. The edges of the wonton skin must be wet lightly with water before folding to make sure the wonton is completely sealed.
Press the edges of the wonton skin to seal
As you fold the wonton to seal, press around the filling to make sure there are no air pockets inside. Make sure that the filling does not extend all the way to the top (where there should be half an inch allowance) and on the sides because you will still have to fold them over.
Fold over the top of the wonton to make a collar.
Complete the folds
Turn the wonton over in your hand and fold the sides inward so that they overlap. Wet the portion where the sides meet and pinch to close and seal.
Repeat the process until you have enough wontons to satisfy the people you intend to serve them to.
We steam the wonton before serving with broth
Some cooks drop the wontons directly into boiling broth. My issue with this method is that the agigation of boiling or even simmering water can tear the delicate wonton skins.
I prefer steaming the wontons then dropping them into bowls then ladle hot broth over them.
How to serve your steamed wonton
If you’re feeling more experimental and creative, see how to make rose dumplings.
Updated from a post originally published on February 14, 2009.