The first dumplings I ever made were wontons. I reckon that there were also among the first dumplings that I ate too. Wontons are Chinese in origin and they are super popular in the Vietnamese kitchen, where they’re called hoanh thanh. My family often fried them for a party appetizer. My mom makes wontons in broth for my nieces and nephews. I like to fry wontons for a TGIF snack with drinks to celebrate the end of the week.
Wontons seeded my love and appreciation for Asian dumplings. I didn’t participate in afternoon sports or other activities because they were costly and foreign to my parents. Instead I did homework, watched TV, and learned to sew, knit, crochet, and cook. Among the domestic skills, cooking was the one that stuck with me through my entire life (I can hem pants and that’s it). I folded 2 or 3 packs of wonton wrappers at a time. My mom would make the filling and hand me the skins. It was tedious at times, but then I got crafty with them and it became fun. Plus I got to eat them. I became a wonton expert through practice and consuming wontons. (They fry fast so my mom didn’t let me deep fry them as a elementary school kid.)
I’ve made wonton skins from scratch using a pasta machine and they’re spectacular. If you have time, a detailed recipe and instructions are in Asian Dumplings on page 64. When you make them yourself, you understand why they’re called skins – they are silky and supple like beautiful skin. Incredible and they’re simply made with flour, salt, water, egg, and cornstarch! A fried wonton made from DIY wrappers is seriously ethereal. It cooks up to a delicate crispness.
But I often buy wontons wrappers too. Have no shame if you’re in the same boat. What’s important is being an informed, smart wonton skin shopper and user. I hope that this post will up your dumpling game. Feel free to add your tips too.