Ours is a family of wonton lovers. One month we went through nearly five steamed wontons and one fried wonton order from our clubhouse’s canteen. Dunked in soup, or savoured by itself, the flimsy, silk-like wrappers yield the familial favourite chicken filling with ginger and scallions. Every wanton on our plate is crowned with a little pile of burnt garlic and chilli, and dad always seems rather content when he’s had his share.
Growing up, a little Chindian theka used to park across the road from our old home in Mahim. Crowds thronged to drink hot soup and eat red mounds of Triple schezhwan (topped with that greasy wok omelette that my mum and I still bicker over) well into the night. On the dimly lit streets of Sitladevi Temple Road, a single Edison bulb illuminated at least a dozen grimy, hungry faces sitting on tomato-red plastic, slurping wonton soups, manchow, and hot n’ sours. These were my first wontons. Everything else that followed- fried or steamed, had pretty big wrappers to fill.
It might come as a surprise to you, but I’ve never once considered learning professional dumpling pleating. I love these nifty little parcels to bits, but I’ve never tried my hand at gyoza or a beautiful sui mai, and that’s a shame. This wonton recipe follows a rather simple saree-pleating method, and don’t bother making them look pretty, because you’ll be dunking these in flavourful chicken stock later. Since I have zero success with anything that requires craft work, these work perfectly. Make a large batch of the flavoured pork mince and freeze. You can thaw these and shape them into meatballs or turn into a burger patty in a jiff. As for the stock, I recommend pressure cooking, so you don’t have to wait as long as 4-5 hours to eat your wontons.
For the dumplings
Pork mince 500g
Ginger 4 tsp, freshly grated
Garlic 5-6 cloves
Water 4-5 tsp
Cornflour 2 tsp
Scallion 2 stalks, finely chopped
Light Soy Sauce 4 tsp
Shaoxing Wine 4 tsp
White Pepper a generous dash
Sesame Oil 2 tsp
Salt 1 tsp
Readymade Wonton Wrappers approximately 40 would do
For The Stock
Chicken 1 kg, on the bone (use less meaty cuts of the chicken here, or interchangeable with an entire chicken carcass)
Scallion 1 bunch, both the white and the green parts
Ginger 2” piece
Shaoxing wine 1/4 cup
Szechuan peppercorns 1 tsp
Salt 1 tsp
Keep a bowl of water ready on the side. Also, make sure that you have a wet muslin cloth handy to cover the wonton wrappers and any parcels you’ve already scrunched.
Combine together all the filling ingredients in a bowl with a wooden spoon. Pick a wonton wrapper, line all corners using a bit of water. Now pick up a corner, and like you’d make folds for a saree, begin pleating the dumpling till you have a parcel. Pinch where you have kept all your pleats fastened and lay them out under the wet muslin cloth. Repeat this for all the parcels. You will be left with some extra filling. Read the introduction to figure out what you can do this.
To cook, bring a pot of water to boil and drop the dumplings in it. When they float up, give them about a minute more, then fish them out using a slotted spoon and quickly rinse with cold water. Do this for all the dumplings. Place the wontons in a bowl and spoon over the chicken soup.
Heat oil in a pressure cooker and stir in the onions. Cook them for five minutes and add the ginger and cook for a few more minutes. Add in the chicken, the wine, the peppercorns and the salt and pressure-cook for 20 minutes.
Open pressure cooker. Drain the scum from the liquid using a mesh and transfer the chicken pieces to a plate. Season the broth with more white pepper, sesame oil and some soy, if necessary.