Wor won ton soup is one of Mike’s favorite things. From King’s in particular – there was that one time, when he was working for a helicopter company out by the original King’s in the northeast, when he went for the Friday wor won ton soup run and bailed down the icy slope right outside the front door, dumping 6 large (about 1L) containers of the soup version of pure gold all over himself and producing a chunky, icy soup slide as it instantly froze on the grass. On a happy note, King’s graciously replaced them all for him, but he now frequents the southeast location.
I had pulled a package of won ton wrappers from the freezer awhile ago in order to make chips – to do this, cut the wrappers into triangles or strips, brush them with a little oil or water to help any seasonings adhere, and sprinkle them with any number of flavorings: lemon pepper, sesame seeds and Parmesan cheese, curry powder, or some of that powdered ranch dip mix. Toast them in the oven on a baking sheet until golden, and you’ll have crunchy, low calorie crackers that are able to structurally tolerate loads of chunky dip.
But a package of wonton wrappers will produce more chips than you’ll need for even the biggest bash. Fortunately, there are other uses for them. Wontons, for example.
(Note: When they are round, they are referred to as gyoza wrappers, and the square ones are wonton wrappers. Same thing, different shape.)
Making wontons by hand, to drop into simmering stock or brown on the stovetop and steam to make potstickers, are far simpler than you might think. All you require is a pound of ground pork, turkey, chicken or a combination (chopped shrimp or scallops are divine too), spiked with a little ginger, soy, green onion and sesame oil. Fill the wrappers, moisten the edges and seal them. While you’re at it, make a lot, and freeze them on a cookie sheet; this will prevent them from sticking to each other when you transfer them to a freezer bag.
The frozen wontons can be dropped into simmering stock with some broccoli, carrots, bok choy, and even whole shrimp or leftover slices of roast pork for wor won ton (or just won ton, if you don’t want to accessorize) that almost makes it unnecessary to do soup runs anymore.
(I said almost.)
For the wontons:
1/2 lb. ground pork, or half pork and half ground turkey
2 green onions, finely chopped, or some chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
salt & pepper
About 30 wonton wrappers, thawed if frozen
Chicken, beef or shrimp stock
Bok choy, chopped spinach, sliced carrots, broccoli, pea shoots, baby corn, fresh or frozen shrimp, sliced cooked pork tenderloin, or anything else you like in your soup
To make the wontons, stir together all the filling ingredients just until combined – as with any meat mixture, don’t overwork it or it could end up tough.
Put a little water into a small bowl. Put a couple wonton wrappers on your work surface, keeping the rest covered so that they don’t dry out. Place a small spoonful of the pork mixture in the middle of each one, dip your finger in the water, and run it along two edges to moisten. Fold the wonton over to make a triangle, and press to seal. Now you could leave them like that, or moisten the tips and fold them closed, like a tortellini. Or, you could moisten the edges and then just squish them all up in a bundle, pressing them together so it doesn’t pop open. You’ll get the hang of it.
To freeze, lay them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and freeze solid; then transfer to freezer bags and store for up to 4 months. To make soup, drop fresh or frozen wontons into simmering stock; add bok choy or any other veg you like, and simmer for a few minutes, 3 or 4, to cook the wontons through – the veg should cook along with them, but still stay fairly crisp. If you want to add shrimp, add them at the end and cook just until they turn opaque, or if they are already cooked, just until they heat through. If you want to add bits of cooked pork, add it at the end as well.
If you like, soak some Asian noodles and divide them among bowls; pour the hot soup overtop. If you like, sprinkle with some torn cilantro. Put bottles of soy sauce and chili sauce on the table so everyone can season their own bowls.