Swallowing clouds. This is one of my favorite food translations, as well as one of my favorite dishes — wonton. The Cantonese wonton has a poetic transliteration, swallowing clouds. When the wonton are cooked by boiling and placed in a bowl of steaming, fragrant broth, they float in the soup like billowing white clouds.
I’ve been folding wonton for as long as I can remember. Wrapping wonton was often a family activity. When I was a child, Auntie Harriet dropped by our house almost every Monday (her one day off). Quite often she arrived with a package of wonton skins and a bowl of filling in tow. She told us that she brought wonton for us to eat, but she wasn’t going to do all the stuffing by herself. That’s where my wonton making lessons began and by time I was working in the Chinese Pagoda restaurant in my early teens, I could flip and fold wonton as well as the restaurant’s “seasoned stuffers.”
I’m sharing a traditional wonton soup recipe this week. There are many delicious variations of fillings, and this one is a family favorite. There are a few different methods for folding wonton, and all are easy to maneuver. Dad likes his wonton wrapped tightly, so that the wonton skin will gather and wrinkle around the filling when boiled.
It doesn’t take long to get the hang of stuffing and folding wonton; it soon becomes second nature. Like kneading bread and rinsing rice, folding wonton has meditative and therapeutic effect for me. Here are a few tips for stuffing and folding wonton:
Set everything in place — square wonton wrappers, the filling, a teaspoon (or a single chopstick, that’s what I use at home), a small cup of water, and a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Fill the wonton by placing a wrapper in one hand and put about 1 teaspoon of filling in the center of the wrapper. 1 teaspoon of filling is an ample amount. Too much filling will make it difficult to properly fold the wonton and may cause the dumpling to burst while cooking.
Dip your finger into the bowl of water and moisten the edges of the wrapper with water. Fold the wrapper in half into a triangle shape. Press the edges together, pressing out any air bubbles. Bring the two bottom corners of the triangle together and seal with a bit of water. There’s your wonton!
Place the wonton on the baking sheet and continue folding the remaining wrappers. If you’re cooking the wontons later, cover the baking sheet tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Wonton also freezes wonderfully for future meals. Freeze the baking sheet until the wontons are frozen solid, and then place them in an airtight freezer bag. The wontons may be cooked straight out of the freezer, just add a few more minutes of cooking time. If you have left over filling, it may also be frozen.
I hope you enjoy these tasty morsels. It’s the perfect season to gather friends and family around the table and swallow clouds.