When my husband and I visited Suzhou in China, we made sure to grab two bowls of steaming hot, fragrant, mini wontons. These wontons are stuffed with a tiny bit of pork filling with a paper-thin skin, and immersed in a rich broth. Slurping them up is like slurping noodles – smooth, fast, and incredibly satisfying. My husband recalled seeing his grandmother in Suzhou make these at home. She’d take a piece of wonton skin, dip her pinkie finger into the meat filling to scoop up a tiny bit of meat, smear it across the skin, and then quickly stuff it into a little baggy pouch – not folded neatly, just smashed together to seal, and that’s pretty much how these wontons are made!
For the broth
- 1.5 kg chicken pieces, such as thighs or wings, or carcasses
- 1 bunch spring onions (white to pale-green part only)
- 5 slices fresh ginger
- 60 ml (¼ cup) Shaoxing wine (Chinese rice wine)
- 1 tsp Szechuan peppercorns (optional)
- 1 tsp salt
For the wontons
- 225 g lean pork mince
- 2 tsp grated ginger
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp cornflour
- 1 spring onion, finely chopped, plus extra to serve
- 2 tsp water
- 2 tsp light soy sauce
- 2 tsp Shaoxing wine (Chinese rice wine)
- 1 tsp sesame oil, plus extra to serve
- 1 egg
- ½ tsp salt
- dash of white pepper, plus extra to serve
- 500 g packet thin, eggless wonton wrappers
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
For the broth, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the chicken and cook for 3–4 minutes. Drain and wash the chicken thoroughly. Line a clean saucepan with the spring onion and place the washed chicken on top. Add enough water to fill the saucepan to 3cm from the top. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low and cook, occasionally skimming foam from the surface, for 4-5 hours to infuse the flavours. Strain the stock, then set aside until needed or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate or freeze for later.
For the wontons, combine the pork mince, ginger, garlic, cornflour, spring onion, 2 tsp water, soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil, egg, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Using a wooden spoon (I like to use my hand to just mash the meat mixture together), stir in one direction until the texture resembles a paste. If the mixture is too stiff, add 1 tsp water.
Using a pair of chopsticks, scoop 1 teaspoon filling onto 1 wonton wrapper, then smear across the wrapper. Using the chopsticks, fold over the wonton wrapper, then to scrunch the opening closed. Seal by pressing tightly and set aside. Place on a tray and cover with plastic wrap. Repeat with the remaining wonton wrappers and filling.
Bring a saucepan of water to the boil. In batches, add the dumplings and cook for 2–3 minutes or until they float to the surface, then cook for a further 1 minute to cook through. Remove from the water and rinse under cold water.
Bring a saucepan chicken broth to the boil. Divide the wontons among bowls, then spoon over the broth. Top with the extra spring onion, sesame oil and white pepper to serve.
Recipe from le jus d’orange by Betty Liu, with photography by Betty Liu.