Another silver lining of lockdown is that I’ve finally nailed the recipe to make a HK style wonton soup.
These wontons are best described as bouncy balls of meat, wrapped with silky thin egg dough, swimming in the most fragrant, HK memory-evoking smell.
The bounce is a result of a prolonged kneading, done easily with an applicance that kneads, like a bread machine, or mixer with a dough hook. Of course, traditionally these were all done by hand. Steel rods were used to tenderise meat that’s clean of sinew.
My modern recipe counts on having really cold meat to start with and using a kneading action that mimics the beating action of steel rods without breaking the meat down too much, thus retaining the tendon, giving the meat balls their bounce.
The flavours of a good wonton soup has long engrained into my mind and olfactory system. The special ingredients that makes this a uniquely HK- style wonton soup comes in the form of dried flounder fish powder 大地魚 and preserved cabbage 冬菜.
You should be able to get these from Asian grocers.
The super thin wonton wrappers comes in a packet of 100, I would make and cook about 30-40 for a meal (depends if I am serving them on their own or with noodles) and freeze the rest. Make sure they are not sticking to one another, and freeze quickly once they are made. You don’t want them to get soggy before going into the freezer. To cook frozen ones, simply place them into a pot of boiling water, stir to make sure none catches at the bottom. Wait for water to return to a boil, add a cup of cold water and wait for it to come to a boil again. Repeat untill you’ve added water 3 times, remove with slotted spoon to serving bowls.
They are quick to make, watch here to see how I wrap them.
Coupled with spring onions and coriander (or skip if you are not a fan) you will not be disappointed. The only questions left are – Are you having that with egg or rice noodles? Chilli oil?
- 400g pork shoulder, cut into small 2cm cubes, partly frozen
- 450g fresh bok choy (for pork and vege wontons)
- 150g raw prawn meat (for pork and prawn wontons)
- 2 egg whites
- 2 Tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil
- 4 Tbsp corn starch
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp white pepper, grounded
- 1 tsp dried flounder powder
- 80-100 thin wonton wrappers, store bought
- 2 litres hot water, or enough to fill a large pot
- 2 Tbsp preserved cabbage 天津冬菜
- 1 Tbsp dried flounder powder
- 1 tsp white pepper, grounded
- salt, to taste
- leaves of coriander and spring onions for garnish
- extra preserved cabbage for garnish
- rice noodles or egg noodles to serve
- Cut pork shoulder meat into small 2cm cubes. Freeze for 1-2 hours, till meat is semi solid.
- Chop bok choy (or with food processor) into fine pieces. Transfer to bowl and sprinkle with 2 tsp salt. Set aside for 10 minutes.
- Place cubes of meat into a powerful food processor and blitz at full power for 10 seconds.
- Scrape down the sides of the food processor, add prawns and blitz another 10 seconds at full power.
- Drain and squeeze bok choy to remove liquid. Add drained bok choy and the rest of the ingredients to the meat and pulse to mix for 5 seconds.
- Turn mixture into the bowl of an applicance that has a kneading function – that can be a bread machine, food processor or mixer with dough hook. I’m using the Thermomix.
- Knead mixture for 6-8 minutes. The mixture will become a paste, sticky and soft but not gluey.
- Place a teaspoon of mixture in the middle of a wrapper, wet the edges of the wrapper and fold to close. You can pinch the edges together to close or overlap them into triangles or rectangles before bringing the edges around and overlap the ends. Whichever way you close, make sure the wrapper surrounding the meat is tightly wrapped over the meat – you don’t want water to seep in.
- Place wontons in the pot of boiling water. When the pot comes back to a boil, add a cup of cold water in. Add preserved cabbage, dried flounder powder, salt and pepper. Wait till it comes back to a boil.
- While the wontons are cooking, prepare your noodles. For fresh rice noodles, all you need is to refresh them briefly in hot water or microwave for a minute till they are soft. For egg noodles, cook for a few minutes in a pot of hot water till al dente, bouncy with a bite.
- Place portions of cooked noodles in the bottom of ramen bowls. Ladle in wontons and soup, garnish with spring onions, coriander and preserved cabbage.
- Serve with red vinegar or alternatively, aromatic chilli oil.