If potstickers are origami, wontons are paper airplanes: 10 times simpler to construct. That’s partly because the shaping and crimping of potstickers is more intricate than the folding of wontons, and partly because rather than make wonton wrappers from scratch, many people, myself included, use the packaged wrappers that are available in any Asian grocery store.
I think my sister was the one who once brought up this question: How come wonton wrappers, which should be perfectly square for folding purposes, are actually not? They’re slightly rectangular, creating imperfect folds. It’s a good question. I’m going to have to call a wonton wrapper manufacturer to get the answer.
Anyway, wontons are often filled with pork, but this shrimp filling is a nice change of pace with great texture and flavor. The water chestnuts add a pleasing crunch, and the cilantro adds that distinct flavor that only cilantro can. If you despise cilantro, you can substitute scallions.
1 lb shrimp, minced
2 tbsp water chestnuts, minced
1 tsp sesame oil
1 egg white
1 tbsp ginger, minced
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 package wonton wrappers
6 cups chicken stock
Combine the filling ingredients in a bowl and bring the stock to a boil.
There are many, many ways to wrap a wonton, but this is the method my mom taught me. It’s quick and easy:
First, lay the wrapper down with a point facing up, and place about a tsp of filling in the center. Using your finger, wet the upper two edges of the wrapper with water.
Now fold the wrapper down to form a triangle. The wet edges help make a tight seal.
Take some more water and wet the front side of the left corner, and the back side of the right corner. Pinching the wonton, fold the right corner over the left corner and seal tightly. It should end up looking like a little hat.
That’s it! Repeat until the filling is used up.
Drop the wontons into the boiling stock and give them a gentle stir so they don’t stick. Shrimp cooks quickly — you’re looking at about 4-5 minutes.
Give it a dose of freshly cracked pepper and a garnish of cilantro, if you like.
And you’ve got yourself shrimp wonton soup, that perfect marriage of silken, pillowy wonton skin and savory filling. Makes for some truly good winter eating.