Wonton is known in Germany as a part of a bland soup but in China, wonton (in Mandarin Chinese: Hundun) is a typical main course, which is especially popular for lunch. In many regions of China, wonton is often served in a freshly cooked hot chicken stock and is therefore particularly popular in cold winter. But in my home province Sichuan, wonton is mostly served together with a hot sauce with spicy chili oil. It’s totally delicious. I love this version of wonton the most!
In Sichuan dialect we call this meat-filled dumpling “chaoshou“. Like many other Chinese dishes, there is also a great story for its name. Chaoshou means “folding the arms”. This name came from ancient China when in the winter it was as cold as today, but people still knew nothing about gloves. The Sichuan Chinese found a simple solution to keep their hands warm in the freezing winter. They folded their arms, in order to put their hands into their wide sleeves.
As a bowl of these delicious dumplings in a hot stock was at that time a very popular food for the winter and also resembles the appearance of the Chinese who hid their hands in their sleeves, the Sichuan Chinese gave the dumplings this pictorial name.
When I was a little girl, there were not as many cars everywhere like nowadays. The most popular means of transport were bicycles. Whether it was to work, to school or for shopping, most of the people went by bike. At many crossings there were even many small stalls on bicycles or tricycles, where farmers sold their vegetables, flowers or fruit .
One of the most fascinating tricycle stalls for us children was a woman in her middle ages who conjured up chaoshou from high stacks of paper-thin pastry sheets and a huge bowl of minced meat. Why was it so interesting for us kids? In our eyes, this woman was really like a magician. Her hands were so skillful and quick, so that you could hardly see how she prepared dozens of those good looking chaoshou within a few seconds.
It was not rare to see that this “magician” was being surrounded by numbers of children who were all staring at her hands with their eyes wide open. They even counted aloud together: one, two, … five … ten … fifteen … twenty … What the children were counting, was not the number of chaoshou crafted by the woman. Unlike today, at that time very few children owned a wristwatch, so the children were acting as a stopwatch. They were excitedly betting, how much chaoshou could be done by the “magician” in a certain time frame. I was also one of those kids who followed the woman’s finger movement without blinking my eyes.
She was really very skillful! Quite often it happened that she completed more than ten pieces of chaoshou identically in size and appearance within just 30 seconds. Even though I was trying hard, I could not follow her finger movements. When I think about it now, I totally understand why China has become the country of millions of skilled assembly line workers. More than twenty years ago, this “magician” already proved how quickly Chinese can produce goods of the same quality with their bare hands. 😉
Today , those stands at the crossroads are strictly prohibited, for the reason of “keeping the city in order.” For me, this is such a pity. However, there are also good alternatives to get the freshly prepared chaoshou. These are the countless noodle kiosks offering freshly made wonton in dozens of variations of fillings for a fair price. Therefore, almost no one in China prepares wonton at home. Even if someone has the time and the desire for homemade wonton, they will not go so far to make the pasta dough themselves, because not many people own a pasta machine.
Even for me, the passionate amateur cook, I had never prepared wonton dough before. Instead, I always bought the industrially manufactured sheets of dough in the Asia shop and put the self made filling into the dough sheets. Since I have become a proud owner of a great food processor with the awesome pasta accessories, I make all kinds of my favorite pasta at home. Now I even dare to go for the homemade wonton pastry sheets!
The result has completely exceeded my expectations! The dough was not like the industrially produced dough sheets that get destroyed quickly during the cooking, but had fantastic texture. If you have ever made your own pasta, you know what I mean. 🙂
Wonton can be kept for some time very easily. You just need to place the ready-made wontons with some distance to each other on a tray and put the tray in the freezer. Once the wontons are frozen, you can put them into a freezer bag. For about two weeks the wontons can be stored in the freezer without problems. For cooking, just put the frozen wontons into the boiling water and cook one or two minutes longer than the fresh wontons. This way, you can also have something delicious to eat quickly and easy to cook for the hectic days. 🙂
Ingredients (2-4 servings):
For the dough:
For the filling:
300g minced pork
1 bunch of parsley (even leaves)
For the chili oil sauce:
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
400ml hot chicken stock
2 tablespoons chili oil
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp sugar
- Pour everything into the food processor and knead until getting a smooth dough. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
- Divide the dough into three pieces and use the rolling pin to roll out a little, so that the dough easily fits into the pasta roller.
- Roll the dough very thin (Level 5 or 6) and cut into square pieces (about 8 -10cm ). Spread some potato flour between the sheets so they do not stick together.
- Put the parsley into a shredder, add a pinch of salt and chop finely. Squeeze the water from the chopped parsley carefully.
- Mix the ground beef with the egg and water together, stir with a pair of chopsticks until the mixture becomes slightly creamy. Season with salt and pepper.
- Put a teaspoon of filling on one sheet of dough and fold it.
- Pull two ends of the folded dough sheet and stick them to each other with help of a little water. Press down firmly so that they stick together well.
- Bring a pot of water to boil, add wonton to it and cook for about 2 minutes, add 100ml of cold water and bring to boil again. Once the wontons float to the surface , they are done.
- Serve with the chili sauce.
Manman chi ! 慢慢吃!