I’m so, so excited to share these wonderful dumplings with you guys because not only do they taste delicious, but they are SO much fun to make! You can literally make a fun morning and afternoon out of it and boil your creations for dinner later on at night! I think it would even make a fantastic party activity for a get-together. With the tv on or some music playing it’s incredibly relaxing and soothing and just oodles of fun. It’s honestly one of my favourite things to make, ever. Well, that and making cake pops and cookies. You get the idea. Just like my Christmas cake pops from Le Dolci, this is somewhat of a photo tutorial, so feel free to follow along or you can just enjoy the photos and drool. It’s up to you.
Okay, first things first: the wrappers! Wonton and dumpling wrappers come in a number of sizes and shapes. Most of the time you’ll find them in square shapes and circle shapes, but if you’re feeling ambitious and know or want to make your own wonton wrappers from scratch, you can also make circles with scalloped edges if you like. The wrappers are basically a mixture of flour, water, and possibly some cornstarch, egg, and/or salt kneaded into an elastic dough and then rolled out into thin sheets and cut into squares or circles for wontons and dumplings. There are plenty of recipes online, such as this one, if you want to make your own dough wrappers.
We used large square wonton wrappers that were already dusted with flour. The flour on the wrappers is important because this is what helps the wrapper “stick”. At Chinese supermarkets, you’ll find the wrappers in the refridgerated section with noodles, soy milk, tofu, and other grocery items. This pack came with around 40 wrappers. Word of advice: don’t unwrap the packaging until you’re actually ready to make the wontons. The wrappers dry out easily so if you leave them out they will harden and crack.
Next: filling! Oh man, is the filling ever fun to make. The sky’s the limit when it comes to what you want your dumplings to be filled with. Pork and vegetable is one of the more common filling combinations, but you could just as easily use ground chicken, vegetables and herbs, or seafood like we did. We used a combination of black tiger shrimp, crab meat (the crab stick that you find in maki rolls), Chinese mushrooms (any mushrooms will do! Shiitake, portobello, whatever you want!), chives, and cilantro. If you don’t like cilantro, use parsley. If you don’t prefer parsley, use watercress. The filling can be anything you want it to be so long as the flavours and mesh. As well, don’t forget that you are filling wrappers with just a spoonful of filling, so everything needs to be chopped, diced, flaked, etc. into small pieces.
Word of advice though: season, season, season! If you’re using meat, you need to marinate it. You don’t necessarily need to marinate your meat overnight (we did it while we were preparing our filling), but seasoning is key. Since shrimp was our main star, we used a little bit of cornstarch, sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and white pepper to season it (oh my goodness you should have smelled it, it smelled divine!) and once we had our seasoning in the bowl with our shrimp, we tossed until everything was coated and thoroughly incorporated before mixing in our chopped crab meat, mushrooms, chives, and cilantro. Ta-da, you now have your filling!
Notice though that we didn’t use salt. We used a bit of soy sauce in our mixture so we didn’t bother to use salt, but it’s entirely up to you what sort of taste and flavour balance you’re going for. Some people enjoy ginger lemongrass flavours, others like it a little more salty and savoury, and others like to rely more on herbs. I knew I wanted to douse my dumplings in red vinegar when it came time to eat them, so we kept the salty seasoning low.
Okay, now to make the actual wonton dumplings! Aside from your bowl of wonton filling, you will need spoons to scoop the filling onto the wrappers, a large plate or platter to place your dumplings on, some paper towels or placemats to work on, and a bowl of lukewarm water. Take a wonton wrapper and lay it flat on your palm. Take a spoonful of wonton filling and place it squarely in the center of the wrapper. Place the wrapper with filling on your placemat or paper towel so that the wonton resembles a diamond. Dip your fingertip(s) into the bowl of lukewarm water and proceed to “outline” all 4 edges of the wrapper with water. You want the edges nice and moist with water, but just make sure they’re not completely soaked.
Repeat with all the wonton wrappers you plan on using or until you run out of wonton filling. If you happen to have a little bit of filling left over, you can always cook it up separately. When you’re done, you’ll have a gorgeous plate of homemade wontons ready to boil, pan fry, or deep fry! Wontons go fabulously with soup noodles in broth or just on their own with a bit of soy sauce or red vinegar. I LOVE red vinegar with dumplings so I go to town dunking mine in a little dish of it! We boiled ours for about 4-5 minutes and had a bunch for dinner. They were SO fresh and delicious and I couldn’t believe chubby and plump they got after they were cooked! They were like beautiful little pillows of yumminess!
These freeze really well so you can put any wontons you don’t plan on eating right away in a freezer bag for another day. I loved making these so much and can’t wait to make more with different fillings!