I have another wonton recipe on this site which is much easier to make and is very good. Try both and let me know which you prefer!
I went to Hong Kong with my family for Christmas holiday in 2019 (before COVID-19!) and we went to a lot of wonton restaurants. You just can't find great wonton in such abundance in the Bay Area. I searched for years, and only in the last couple of years have I found a few places that satisfy my craving. But nothing seems as good as the ones in Hong Kong.
In my research I discovered an ingredient used by all the wonton shops in Hong Kong, but is never mentioned in any of my Chinese cookbooks. None of them have this "secret" ingredient in their recipes. It is Dried Flatfish/Flounder/Sole Powder or 大地魚粉. In most of the restaurants, they take the dried flounder/sole and deep fry it or grill it some to increase the umami and then they grind it up in a blender or spice grinder into a powder. Restaurants use the whole dried fish (大地魚) in their soup stock and the powder (大地魚粉) in the wonton themselves. I went hunting in all the nearby Ranch 99s and other asian grocery stores, and none of them had this. I think you have to go to a specialty dried goods store in Chinatown or order online (which is what I did). The recipe doesn't use much, but it does make it taste more like Hong Kong wonton with a strong umami component.
One of the variables in wonton is the percentage of pork and usage of pork fat. The ratio of pork to fat should be 70:30. While all the recipes use pork fat, some render their own pork fat, some mince the pork fat. Instead of just buying ground pork, I found that it actually is better to hand cut and chop your pork rather than get pre-ground pork for texture. Alternatively, if you have a butcher that will coarse grind you some fatty pork, you can use that. Just make sure the total pork + pork fat is about 16 oz. You can use less pork to shrimp, or more pork to shrimp, depending on your preferences. This recipe uses a 2:1 ratio of shrimp to pork mixture.
One tip is to mix the pork and seasonings separately first before adding in the shrimp mixture. The meat is mixed in a single circular direction (ie don't mix randomly), and slapped against the bowl. This creates a thick almost paste like texture rather than chunky meat texture.
I then mix in the shrimp to incorporate. I generally like about shrimp pieces to be ½-1" long. Depending on the size of the shrimp, this might mean whole shrimp. If you purchase already peeled and deveined shrimp, make sure you go through the shrimp to remove missed shells.
In restaurants and Hong Kong, the wonton wrappers are larger than the pre-packaged ones in the US. The wrappers in the US are usually 8cm x 8cm, but the ones in Hong Kong restaurants seem to be more like 9cm x 9cm. I have decided to change how I wrap my wontons for freezing. Previously I would use the "Triangle Ingot" fold, but I have changed it to the "Triangle squeeze and fold over" method. It is faster, more compact, and when you freeze them, the wrapper is less likely to break or crack.
This recipe has been put together after watching many different videos in Cantonese focused on the Hong Kong wonton. It is only the recipe for the wonton (not the soup base or home made noodles). Honestly, for me, the soup is secondary to the wonton and I just use chicken broth of some sort. Often I don't even finish the soup. You can garnish the soup with some fresh chopped Chinese yellow chives or scallions, some melted lard and sesame oil.
For the Shallot Oil
- ⅓ cup sliced shallots
- 7 tablespoon neutral oil
For the Pork
- 340g (12 oz) pork loin
- 143g (5 oz) minced fat from salt pork or pork fat
- 85g (3 oz) minced shallots
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon dried flatfish/flounder/sole powder (大地魚粉)
- ¾ teaspoon chicken boullion
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper powder
- 2 tablespoon ginger juice, freshly squeezed
- 4 tablespoon tapioca flour
- 2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoon shallot oil (from above)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 900g (2 lb) peeled, deveined shrimp
- ½ teaspoon white pepper powder
- 1 teaspoon shaoxing wine
- 2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoon shallot oil
Make the shallot oil
- Heat up the 7 tablespoon of oil to medium heat, slow saute the shallots over medium-low heat until the shallots begin to brown.
- Remove from heat before the shallots burn. Remove the shallots from the oil and let the oil cool down.
Make the Pork Mixture
- For the pork loin or shoulder, dice the pork and use a cleaver or cleavers to pound on the pork until made into a "ground pork".
- Mince the pork fat and then add to the pork. The end result in the pork mixture should be around 70% pork / 30% fat.
- Add in the ½ teaspoon salt and use your hands (or with gloves) to stir in a consistent direction (I am right handed, so prefer clockwise) until the meat is a meshed mixture.
- Throw/slam the meat a couple of times against the bowl until the mixture has been made almost into a paste.
- Add in the other ingredients for the pork and mix together, slamming the mixture against the bowl a few times until everything is well incorporated.
- Cover and refrigerate for 15-30 minutes at least.
Make the Shrimp Mixture
- Make sure you wash and dry your shrimp. You want it to be the freshest possible, with little to no fishy smell.
- Cut the shrimp if necessary to the size of pieces you want in your wonton. I prefer ½" - 1" pieces.
- Mix all the rest of the ingredients for the shrimp together.
- Cover and refrigerate for 15-30 minutes.
To make the wontons (instructions for right handed people, adjust to what feels most natural for you)
- Depending on preference - either keep shrimp and pork mixture separate, or mix together. If freezing the wontons later, I recommend you mix them together.
- Take out only enough of the mixture that you think you can fold into wonton in 30 minutes. I take out an equal amount of the shrimp and pork mixtures and leave the rest in the refrigerator.
- Get a small bowl of water.
- Open up the wonton wrappers and cover the wrappers with a damp paper towel to keep the wraps from drying out.
- Place the side with the less flour facing up in your left hand and put a piece of shrimp in the center of the wonton wrapper. Then place an equal amount of pork mixture on top. If the mixture is mixed together, just make sure the wonton gets both shrimp and pork. It should probably only amount to about 1 teaspoon to 1 ½ teaspoon of filling per wonton.
- Dip your index finger in the hand that is not holding the wonton and smear water around the filling in a circle.
- Using your right hand, join up two diagonal corners and hold them together in your left hand. Use your right hand and come under the corner nearest your right hand and join it to the diagonal corners using the space between your thumb and index finger. Press together.
- The wonton is now in your right hand. Use your left hand and bring up the other corners to meet all the other corners.
- Squeeze the wonton shut using the space between your thumb and index finger.
- Roll it over and place it down with the folded corners on the bottom and the round wonton on top.
When serving, add in the yellow garlic chives, chopped, add a touch of sesame oil and pork oil into the bottom of the bowl prior to pouring in the chicken broth.