A Holiday Dumpling Workshop in the Kitchen – Shrimp, Crab Meat, Herbs, and Veggies For Homemade Wontons!

It’s delicious homemade wonton dumpling time! 😀  Yes, that’s right, yours truly made homemade wonton dumplings from scratch yesterday and spent her the whole day in the kitchen preparing and mixing baking ingredients for cookies and cupcakes, and chopping up wonton filling ingredients in the morning.  I know these don’t exactly scream Christmas or even “holidays”, but my mum and I made these for ourselves and for my grandparents as a little homemade Christmas food love from our hearts to theirs. 
I’ll have you know that yesterday’s wonton making session was not my first.  I know I never really talk about my cooking adventures or kitchen escapades much aside from baking, but my childhood is full to bursting with kitchen and cooking experiences and memories and I have my grandma and my aunt to thank for that.  They instilled a love of home cooking in me and let me help them early on.  My first cookie baking experience was with my aunt in her Scarborough apartment at the age of 8 and my first wonton making adventure was with my mum and grandma in my grandparents’ kitchen when I was…some young age that I don’t recall at the moment.  But it was so much fun and it will always be one of my favourite memories.

Dinner in the making!

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.

Chopped shrimp in soy sauce, sesame oil, cornstarch, sugar

White pepper thrown in!

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.

Filling placed in the center

Water traced around the edges
Now, take the top and bottom corners of the wonton diamond and lift them up so that they meet and stick together, forming a triangle.  Once the corners have adhered and you have a sturdy triangle, choose a side to work with and, keeping the wonton on the placemat, start “pleating” the edges, pinching the bloody hell out of the wrapper edges!  The simplest way to do this is to make ruffles by tugging and sticking the edges together in the direction of the triangle tip.  Tuck the outer corners into the ruffles and make the edges sticky by dabbing water all over the edges and pinching as you go along.  Once one side is secure, repeat on the other side.  This i’s why the bowl of water is really important because you’ll constantly need to dab your fingers in it to adhere the edges together and to keep them stuck together.  If you find tiny holes or cracks, just pinch them back together with a little water.

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!

Dinner is served!

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!

2 thoughts on “A Holiday Dumpling Workshop in the Kitchen – Shrimp, Crab Meat, Herbs, and Veggies For Homemade Wontons!

  1. Those are super pretty! Isn’t it gratifying and satisfying to make dumplings from scratch? I’ve made them only once–Mongolian-style dumplings, actually, whose filling I veganized–and it was such a delight to eat them, knowing the care that had gone into them. Plus, it’s a therapeutic process, no? 🙂 Thanks for sharing. Mmm!

    • Aww, thanks Christina!! 🙂 YES, it is incredibly satisfying and therapeutic making them from scratch and I missed making them with my grandma so much that I just had to get my fix, haha. I’m dying to make more (my family and I ate them all already) and I reeeeally want to make pierogies now too! And vegan ones would be awesome, definitely something I will keep in mind and try to do!

      I hope your MA is going well and that you’re almost done kicking those assignments in the butt! 😀

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