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Stephen Chin-Bow (Yale College): This recipe is dedicated to my mother, my first teacher!
This recipe is based on the wonton soup recipe (revision 2012-06-03) first published on the Yale Alumni Nonprofit Alliance, (YANA) website in May, 2012 after a "Yale Day of Service" event at the NYC chapter of "Friends of the Children" a nonprofit organization.
According to the "Yale Daily News" menus wonton soup is served by the Yale dining halls. A question for current students is "What do you like or dislike about Yale dining hall wonton soup?"
Wonton soup can be served as a simple appetizer or as a nutritious whole meal. Boiling frozen wontons (prepared at home) and adding frozen peas for taste and nutrition is an excellent way to prepare a quick and inexpensive meal when you are tired or do not have much time to cook. Prepare a large number of wontons while you listen to the radio or talk to friends. Freeze them and enjoy the benefits when you are having a long day!
A pork-based or a pork-shrimp combination is probably the most traditional filling used in Chinese homes and restaurants. I do not remember when I first tried ground turkey, but today I prefer the turkey flavor. Plus eating turkey is healthier than eating pork.
First added: 2012-06-06; Last edited: 2012-11-04
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• Ingredients and Required Kitchen Equipment: (roughly grouped into "categories")
1) one pot (a 4 to 6 quart size works well)
2) teaspoons and forks (metal utensils work best when first mixing the filling)
3) plates / trays (to hold uncooked dumplings)
4) one pound square "wonton wrappers/skins" (also see below)
5) one egg (any size)
6) ground turkey (less expensive when purchased in "one pound" frozen tubes)
7) chicken bones (any meat bones can be used to prepare the broth)
8) any vegetables, fresh or frozen
• Bok choy, Napa cabbage, and snow peas are common Chinese vegetables.
9) soy sauce
10) one head fresh garlic, half for broth and half for filling (garlic powder can be used)
11) one two inch piece of fresh ginger root (optional)
12) scallion "green onion" minced (optional, for use in filling or as a garnish)
13) soap to wash hands
14) sponges to clean up
• Where to Buy Ingredients:
Wonton wrappers (wonton "skins") can be found in the refrigerated vegetable section of most local supermarkets (such as KeyFood). If you visit Chinatown stores look for wrappers made by the Wing Heung Noodle Co. (which uses a plain brown paper tape label to seal a plain white waxed paper package; see below). This noodle company does not use preservatives (only flour, eggs, cornstarch, water, and salt). Nasoya, a national brand, also manufactures a wonton wrapper without preservatives. The thicker wrappers (approximately 50 wrappers per pound) are best to use for soup. Usually, you will find the thin wonton wrappers only if you shop in a Chinatown or an Asian specialty market with several different wonton wrapper options.
Chinese vegetables, such as "bok choy, are commonly used, but you can use anything which you like. Fresh collards or mustard greens are great (and very nutritious). Frozen green peas and corn work well. Bean sprouts or Chinese broccoli can also be added.
Background: Whole chickens are the cheapest way (often 75 cents a pound) to purchase chicken. Cutting up a chicken takes a little practice, but it is a skill which will impress your friends! "Split chicken breasts" (which have the breast bone and some ribs) often are a "better buy" than chicken legs or thighs. One pound of split chicken breasts priced at $2 per pound (a common NYC "sale" price) provides more meat than two pounds of chicken legs sold at $1 a pound. Why? Chicken legs (especially when sold with the "backs") and thighs, although cheaper per pound, have more bones/skin than chicken breasts. For more details read the "Ingredients: Meat" page (data included).
Instructions: Heat a pot of cold water to a full boil. Add a little salt (the broth will be healthier if only a small amount of salt is used; remember, the wonton dumpling filling is also seasoned with salty soy sauce and more soy sauce can be added when the soup is served), a few cloves of minced fresh garlic (garlic powder also works well), and sliced fresh ginger (optional). Add chicken bones and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Remove the chicken bones and ginger. One option is to remove any meat from the bones (after they cool). If you do not have any chicken bones to make this broth then canned chicken broth, canned broth diluted with water, or simply plain water can be used (see below).
• Preparing the Filling:
Background: After you understand the basic recipe you can use your imagination! If you like spicy food try adding some crushed red pepper flakes, minced "scotch bonnet" peppers, or minced jalepeños. Or try adding a little curry powder.
Wonton soup sold by restaurants often contain a filling made with pork or shrimp (see internet links). A healthier and less expensive option is to use ground turkey. Frozen ground turkey sold in one pound "tubes" works very well. Minced scallions ("green onion") can be added if desired.
Instructions: Remember, after you handle uncooked turkey remember to wash your hands well with soap!
Allow the frozen turkey to defrost by leaving it in the refrigerator overnight. Any unused filling can be frozen and used at a later date or added to the broth before the dumplings (see below). Nothing is wasted in a frugal Chinese kitchen!
For one pound of turkey add one whole head of minced garlic (garlic powder also works well), a few tablespoons of soy sauce (start with 3 tablespoons). Add minced water chestnuts (optional).
You can even add grated carrots to the filling if you want to make a super-healthy soup.
• Folding the Dumplings:
Hint: Do not over-fill your dumplings; less is better!
Click on the diagram to view a larger version which can be printed.
In a bowl scramble an egg with a fork. STEP 1: Use the fork to moisten two adjacent corners of a square wonton wrapper (eg. "12 and 3 o'clock") with egg. STEP 2: Place a small amount (at most 1 teaspoon) of filling near the "9 o'clock" corner. STEP 3: Roll the wrapper around the filling, in the 9 o'clock to 3 o'clock direction (the "9 o'clock" corner does not have any egg) forming a tube. STEP 4: Flip the "3 o'clock" corner (which has egg) over and press lightly (completing the tube; this is the "burrito step"). STEP 5: Take the "6 o'clock" corner (without egg) and fold it towards the "12 o'clock" corner (which has egg). Press 6 o'clock and 12 o'clock corners together to seal. One option (one family's tradition) is to twist the "6 o'clock" corner (STEP 5b; Note: this is only a "half-twist", not a full twist) before it is pressed to the "12 o'clock" corner (which has egg; STEP 5c). This half-twist "exposes" some filling, but this is helpful, because it will make the broth tastier and less air is trapped inside each dumpling.
Click on the thumbnails to view a larger image.
STEP 6: Place the folded wontons on a plate.
If you use a different fold, such as the "tortellini" fold, which completely seals the filling inside the dumpling, it is critical to remove as much air as possible before you seal each dumpling. Any trapped air will expand when the dumplings are cooked, resulting in burst dumplings. Still tasty, but not the presentation you want.
If you want to freeze the uncooked wontons place them on a cookie sheet or tray (do not let them touch). After the wontons are frozen solid (several hours or overnight) twist/flex the cookie sheet to release the frozen dumplings. Work quickly, because you do not want the dumplings to defrost. Store in a plastic bag (ziplock bags work well) until needed.
• Cooking the Soup:
Hint: Always have pot holders handy if you need to move the pot.
Heat the homemade chicken broth (diluted canned broth or just plain water) until a full "rolling" boil is reached. If you are using just water the "broth" will be tastier if you follow these suggestions: 1) use vegetables such as watercress or mustard greens, 2) add some of the "unused" wonton filling, or 3) reduce the volume of water used.
Keep the heat on "high". Remember, if you are using frozen dumplings they will cook better if they are not defrosted.
Remove one dumpling from the plate, squeeze the corners to be sure the dumping is still sealed, and carry it just above the boiling broth before carefully releasing it. You want to avoid splashing the hot broth. Cooking is fun, but be careful and pay attention. Repeat with the remaining dumplings (depending on the amount of broth, cook at most 20-30 dumplings at one time). Stir gently (to separate any attached dumplings). When the broth starts to boil again lower heat. STEP 7: After the dumplings are all floating simmer for 5-10 minutes.
During the last few minutes of cooking you can add the vegetables. If you use snow peas remember to rinse them (also remove the ends and the "string"). If you slice the vegetables into thin strips they will cook faster. Frozen peas and corn do not need to be heated for more than a minute. For an attractive "garnish" some cooks add a small amount of minced scallion (use just the green tops).
• Internet Links:
1) Wonton Dumpling Wrapping:
2) Wonton Soup Recipe with Seafood:
3) Search Google Images for "Bok Choy" (a popular Chinese vegetable):
4) Search Google Images for "Chinese broccoli":
5) Search Google Images for "snow peas":
6) Wonton Folding on YouTube (uploaded by user CHOW on 2010-02-23):
7) Tortellini Fold on YouTube (more difficult, but fun to try after you master the simpler folds):
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