Wontons or Wantans are a very tricky dish in Chinese cuisine, and there are many factors which surround their creation; where they come from what are they filled with, how to serve them appropriately, where to purchase the wrappings are just some of the questions that people often ask about this food.
In the text below, you will find an abundance of information about wontons and everything about them, in this order:
- What a wonton is,
- How wontons can be adapted as appetizers, main courses, desserts and snacks,
- What sauces accompany wontons,
- How to store wontons
What is a Wonton?
These little foods originate from the Guang Zhou province and Hong Kong, where the Cantonese people live. They have become a very popular Chinese food, as these little dumplings are very versatile. Be it boiled in soups or fried as snacks, wontons are tasty treats for any occasion.
The wonton is interpreted in many different ways throughout China. In the North, it fuses with the cuisine of dumplings and buns, known by many as ‘dim sum’; some of these are “har gow” or shrimp dumplings, “zong zi” or rice dumplings”, “man tou” or buns” and “guo tie” or pot stickers. In Taiwanese, the wonton is known as “bian shi’, and as “chai shou” in Si Chuan. There are also dialects which regard the wonton as a ‘cloud’, due to their appearance when they are made to be included in soups. On the Chinese mainland, wontons are referred to as “hunt un”, a term referring to ‘irregularly shaped pasta’ –this is the name for wontons which is used in many international venues such as Europe and the U.S.
Put simply, a wonton is a combination of various foods for a filling, all wrapped up in a very thin sheet of wheat. When complete, they can be referred to as ‘little parcels. Today, they are a very international food, as they are loved by many as delicious dumplings to enjoy!
Wontons for Different Courses
Traditionally, the wonton is used as a large part of soup, which is eaten at the beginning of the meal. They are still served this way in Chinese restaurants as a single order. However, there are a wide variation of ways in which the wonton has been adapted for use:
- Instead of a full-blown soup, small wontons can be cooked and served in a clear broth. They warm up the digestive track and stimulate the beginning of the large Chinese meal.
- Place 3 to 5 wontons in a drinking glass topped off with sesame seed oil and garnished with coriander leaves for color and décor.
- Deep dry the wontons to a crisp and serve with mayonnaise to dip.
- Create wontons topped with cheese and bake till golden brown.
Wonton Main Courses
This form of wonton or wantan use is very popular in Hong Kong, where the pork wonton noodle dish is high on the list of street food must-eats. Countries such as Malaysia and Singapore have also included this dish in their cuisine, where pork wontons are included in the egg noodle dish along with “char siew” or barbecued pork.
However, in Malaysia and Singapore, this dish is dry and accompanied with chopped green chilies, whereas the Hong Kong version is often a simple, less-spicy soup. Although each is distinctive in where it comes from, both versions can be eaten in hawker centers throughout Singapore and Malaysia – many people indulge in wonton noodles because they are called the same thing, and yet are two completely different dishes.
Whereas most wontons today are savory item, it is simply to create sweet wontons for dessert items. Simply change the filling, instead of meat and vegetables, to something sweet, such as fruits or pudding.
Wonton Party Snacks
While wontons are an essential part of Chinese soups, they are also very popular when they are fried, where they easily transform from a starting appetizer to a crunchy, golden snack. Because they are small, light and bite-sized, they are very convenient for picnic tables and party buffets.
To create these sensational snacks, simply fry the wontons instead of boiling them. Fill a wok with oil and wait till it starts to smoke; place in as many wontons as will fit at a time, and wait until they rise to the top – this is an indication that they are cooked.
Wonton Dipping Sauces
When creating fried wontons as a party snack, sauces to dip them in are often desired – most fried food require a liquid dip to spice them up. After you arrange your wontons on a large plate, leave space in the center for an array of dipping sauces.
Many people enjoy the convenience of simply bottled chili or tomato sauce. However, some prefer to make their own dip. People in the Sze Chuan province of China are famous for creating wonton dipping sauces. In addition to this, you can also serve your wontons with tradition fried-food accompaniments, such as mayonnaise or sweet & sour sauce.
Because Chinese recipes often give ingredients to create a large batch of wontons, you will often be left with excess portions. These handy parcels are easy to store – this is convenient if you wish to just create and make your wontons at one time to save the hassle of repeatedly assembling them.
However, you cannot fry stored wontons or wantans, as once they are frozen, they cannot be thawed – doing so will decrease the crispiness of the skin. To store your wontons for future boiling or steaming, evenly place them on a layer of baking paper in the freezer until they are frozen. When they are solid, zip them up in Ziplock bags, and keep them in your freezer for whenever you need them!
GO TO TOP