Wontons: A Complete Guide to History, Preparation, and More!

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A wonton (also spelled wantan, wanton, or wuntun in transcription from Cantonese; Mandarin: húntun ) is a type of dumpling commonly found in a number of Chinese cuisines.

Wontons are a delicious Chinese dumpling typically filled with pork, chicken, or shrimp. They’re wrapped in a thin dough wrapper and either boiled, steamed, or fried to golden brown perfection.

Let’s look at the history, ingredients, and cooking methods of this delicious dish.

What are wontons

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Wontons: The Golden Brown Appetizer That Will Leave You Wanting More

Wontons are a type of Chinese dumpling that are typically filled with pork, turkey, egg, vegetables, or shrimp. They are wrapped in a thin dough and can be boiled, steamed, or deep-fried to a golden brown. Wontons are often served as an appetizer or as part of a larger meal.

Regional Variations

Wontons are known by different names and spellings depending on the region in China. In Cantonese, they are called 雲吞 or wuntun, while in Shanghainese, they are known as 餛飩 or hundun. The transliteration of the name can also vary, with some people spelling it as “wantan” or “wuntun.”

Preparation and Filling

Wontons are made by wrapping a small amount of filling in a thin dough wrapper. The filling can be made with a variety of ingredients, including pork, shrimp, chicken, scallop, crab, vegetables, chestnuts, and more. The filling is typically seasoned with soy sauce, sesame oil, and other spices.

Cooking Methods

Wontons can be boiled, steamed, or deep-fried. Boiled wontons are typically served in a clear broth, while steamed wontons are often served with a dipping sauce. Deep-fried wontons are crispy and crunchy and can be served as an appetizer or snack.

How to Store Wonton Wrappers

Wonton wrappers can be stored in a tightly sealed container or a ziploc bag in the freezer for up to six months. When you’re ready to use them, simply thaw them out and they’re ready to go.

Wrap It Up

Wontons are a delicious and versatile dish that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Whether you prefer them boiled, steamed, or deep-fried, there’s a wonton recipe out there for everyone. So why not try making your own batch of wontons today and see what all the fuss is about? Check out this video on how to make wontons at home.

The Diverse Cuisine of Wontons

Wontons are a type of Chinese dumpling that is commonly found in regional styles across China. They are known as “wantan” or “wuntun” in Mandarin and “yun tun” in Cantonese, with different transliterations depending on the region. Some of the most popular regional styles of wontons include:

  • Cantonese wontons: These are the most commonly consumed type of wontons and are often served in soup. They are carefully balanced with a variety of vegetables and protein, making them a healthy addition to your daily diet.
  • Shanghai wontons: These are typically steamed and have a delectable mix of flavours, with a focus on balancing carbs and protein to provide the necessary nutrients to promote overall health.
  • Sichuan wontons: These are known for their spicy flavour and are a great option for those who want to add a little fun to their diet.

Wontons as a Healthy Addition to Your Diet

Contrary to popular misconceptions, wontons can be a healthy addition to your daily diet. They are versatile and can include a variety of vegetables and lean protein, making them a great option for those looking to lose weight or stay healthy. Here are some tips to help you healthify your wontons:

  • Instead of using pork or beef, opt for lean chicken or shrimp as your protein source.
  • Replace fried wontons with steamed wontons to avoid consuming excess calories.
  • Use a BMI calculator, BMR calculator, or calorie calculator to plan your wonton intake based on your health requirements.
  • Download the HealthifyMe home, Android, or iOS app to help you stay on track with your health goals.

Wontons for Those with Allergies or Adverse Reactions

If you have allergies or adverse reactions to certain ingredients, it’s important to carefully choose the type of wontons you consume. Some tips to help you avoid adverse reactions include:

  • Check the ingredients carefully before consuming wontons to ensure they don’t contain any allergens.
  • If you have a severe allergy, it’s best to avoid wontons altogether or consult with a healthcare professional before consuming them.
  • If you experience any adverse reactions after consuming wontons, seek medical attention immediately.

The Rich History of Wontons

  • Wontons are a Chinese dish that has been enjoyed for hundreds of years.
  • The exact date of their origin is unknown, but evidence of their existence can be traced back to the Han Dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE).
  • It is thought that wontons originated in the northern cities of Xiong and Wei Zhi, where they were known as “huidun,” meaning “chaos dumplings.”
  • Originally, wontons were sacrificial food, indistinguishable from stuffed buns.

Development of Wontons: Southern China

  • As time went on, people began to differentiate between the two types of food based on the method of making them.
  • Wontons were developed in the southern cities of China, where they became a distinct type of dumpling.
  • Unlike jiaozi, which are sealed by folding the wrapper in half, wontons are sealed by gathering the wrapper around the filling and twisting it at the top.
  • The lack of folding meant that wontons were lacking in the distinctive shape of jiaozi.

Wontons During the Song Dynasty

  • During the Song Dynasty (960-1279 CE), wontons became a staple food for families during the midwinter festival.
  • Nobles saw the improvements that could be made to the dish and began to pack them with more filling.
  • By this time, wontons were enjoyed by people of all classes.

Preparing the Perfect Wonton Filling

  • Ground pork or shrimp
  • Chopped onions
  • Finely chopped ginger
  • Soy sauce
  • Water
  • White rice
  • Wonton wrappers

Step-by-Step Guide

Preparing the Filling

  1. Start by mixing the ground pork or shrimp, chopped onions, finely chopped ginger, soy sauce, and water in a large bowl. Make sure to mix everything evenly.
  2. Add a little bit of white rice to the mixture to help prevent excess fat from leaking out during cooking.
  3. Let the mixture rest for a few minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
  4. If you want a finer texture, you can use a food processor to chop the ingredients.
  5. Prepare the wonton wrappers by placing a small amount of the mixture in the center of each wrapper. A teaspoon of filling is usually enough for each wonton.
  6. Make sure to wet the edges of the wrapper with water to help it stick together.
  7. Close the wrapper by folding it in half diagonally to form a triangle. Make sure to press the edges together to seal the wonton.
  8. You can also fold the wrapper in half to form a rectangle or leave it straight to form a cylinder.
  9. Repeat the process until all the filling is used up.

Freezing the Wontons

  1. If you want to freeze the wontons, place them on a sheet lined with parchment paper.
  2. Make sure to space them out so they don’t stick together.
  3. Allow the wontons to freeze for a few hours before transferring them to a freezer-safe dish.
  4. The wontons can be frozen for up to three months.

Cooking the Wontons

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Add the wontons to the pot and let them cook for 3-5 minutes or until they float to the surface.
  3. Remove the wontons from the pot and let them rest for a few minutes before serving.
  4. You can also fry the wontons for a crispy texture.
  5. Top the wontons with a special sauce or serve them with fresh ginger and soy sauce.

Tips and Tricks

  • Adding a little bit of water to the filling mixture will help keep it moist.
  • Make sure to use fresh ingredients for the best flavor.
  • Smaller wontons are easier to handle and cook faster.
  • Using a little bit of cornstarch in the filling mixture will help it hold its shape.
  • Make sure to close the edges of the wonton tightly to prevent the filling from leaking out during cooking.
  • Wonton wrappers can be found in the refrigerated section of most grocery stores.
  • Wontons are a great source of protein, carbohydrate, and fiber.

Wonton Shapes and Cooking Methods: A Versatile Delight

Wontons come in different shapes, and the resulting shape depends on the folding method used. The most commonly used shapes are:

  • Triangle: Place the filling in the middle of the wrapper and fold it in half diagonally to form a triangle. Seal the edges by pressing them together.
  • Diamond: Start with a square wrapper and fold it in half diagonally to form a triangle. Then, fold the triangle in half horizontally to form a smaller triangle. Place the filling in the middle and fold the two corners together to form a diamond shape. Seal the edges by pressing them together.
  • Envelope: Place the filling in the middle of the wrapper and fold it in half diagonally to form a triangle. Then, fold the two corners together to form an envelope shape. Seal the edges by pressing them together.

Regional and Traditional Dishes

Wontons are a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. Here are some regional and traditional dishes that feature wontons:

  • Wonton soup: A simple and delicious soup made with wontons and broth.
  • Szechuan wontons: Spicy wontons served with a chili oil sauce.
  • Shrimp wontons: Wontons filled with shrimp and served in soup or fried.
  • Hong Kong-style wontons: Wontons filled with shrimp and pork and served in soup.
  • Dim sum: A variety of small dishes, including wontons, served for breakfast or lunch in Chinese cuisine.

Get Creative: Serving Wontons in Fun and Delicious Ways

  • Serve fried wontons as a light and crispy snack or appetizer
  • Pair vegetarian or vegan wontons with a gingery dipping sauce for added flavor
  • Try curried wontons for a creamy and flavorful dish
  • Stuff wontons with roasted garlic and mushroom for a savory appetizer
  • Serve sweet wontons with a side of vanilla ice cream for a unique dessert

Soups and Broths

  • Add wontons to a vegetable or chicken broth for a hearty and filling soup
  • Try a curried butternut squash and cauliflower soup with added wontons for texture
  • Pair wontons with spinach and tofu in a yellow curry broth for a flavorful meal

Side Dishes

  • Serve wontons alongside sushi rolls for added variety
  • Try a batch of baked wontons as a lighter side dish to pair with buffalo wings
  • Stuff wontons with mashed potato and toast them for a fun twist on a classic dish

Storage and Preparation

  • Store unused wonton wrappers in an airtight container or bag to prevent sticking
  • Thaw wonton wrappers before use and lay them out on a tray for easy preparation
  • Cook wontons by frying or baking them depending on your preference
  • Get creative with different fillings and cooking methods to find your perfect wonton dish.

Keeping Your Wonton Wrappers Fresh: A Guide to Proper Storage

When it comes to storing wonton wrappers, the right container is key. You want something that will keep them fresh and prevent them from drying out. Here are a few options to consider:

  • Airtight plastic containers
  • Ziplock bags
  • Plastic wrap

Freezing Wonton Wrappers

If you’re not planning on using your wonton wrappers right away, freezing them is a great option. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Allow the wrappers to rest at room temperature for about 15 minutes before freezing.
  2. Cut the wrappers into desired size pieces.
  3. Dust them with cornstarch to prevent them from sticking together.
  4. Place them in an airtight container or ziplock bag.
  5. Label the container with the date and contents.
  6. Freeze for up to 3 months.

Storing Wonton Wrappers with Filling

If you’ve already made your wonton filling and wrapped your wontons, you’ll want to store them properly to keep them fresh. Here’s how:

  • Place the wontons on a tray or plate and cover them with plastic wrap.
  • Store them in the refrigerator for up to a day.
  • If you need to store them for longer, freeze them instead.

Remember These Tips

Here are a few additional tips to keep in mind when storing wonton wrappers:

  • Always choose the storage method that works best for you and the availability of your storage containers.
  • Keep your wonton wrappers dry and pretty by avoiding excess moisture.
  • Sticky starch can make it difficult to separate wonton wrappers, so dust them with cornstarch before storing or freezing.
  • When making wontons, roll out your wrappers to a thin, even thickness for best results.
  • Add your desired filling to the center of each wrapper and fold it tightly to prevent the filling from falling out during cooking.
  • Don’t forget to serve your wontons with your favorite sauce for a delicious dish that travels well in portions or as a solid meal.

Differences between Wontons and Jiaozi

Wontons and jiaozi are both Chinese dumplings, but they have different origins and varieties. Jiaozi came from northern China and are usually round or crescent-shaped, while wontons originated in the southern region of China and are typically square-shaped. However, jiaozi can also be found in other forms, such as tied or stuffed with vegetable fillings.

Wrapper and Filling

The wrapper for jiaozi is made of wheat dough and is thicker and relatively heavier than the wonton wrapper, which is made of a thinner, white, and sticky rice dough. The filling for jiaozi is primarily comprised of minced meat, vegetables, or a combination of both, while wontons are usually filled with ground meat or seafood.

Preparation and Cooking Techniques

Jiaozi is usually boiled or pan-fried and served with a dipping sauce, while wontons are often served in a clear broth. However, there are different styles of preparing and cooking both dumplings, and they can be found in various forms in Chinese and Japanese restaurants.

Equivalent in Japanese Cuisine

In Japanese cuisine, the equivalent of jiaozi is gyoza, which is derived from the Chinese dumpling but has its own unique characteristics. Gyoza is usually smaller and has thinner skin than jiaozi, and the filling is delicately rolled and squeezed into a small piece. Gyoza can be filled with meat, seafood, or vegetable stuffing and is often served with a chili dipping sauce.

Ancient Staple Food

Both wontons and jiaozi have been around for over a thousand years and have remained beloved staple foods in China and other parts of the world. While they have different shapes, fillings, and cooking techniques, they share a common heritage and are enjoyed by many.

Wontons vs Dumplings: The Battle of the Stuffings

Wontons and dumplings are two of the most popular varieties of Chinese food. Both are made of dough wrappers and contain different stuffings. Wontons are typically round or square in shape, while dumplings can be round, crescent-shaped, or square.

The Differences in Stuffings

The most important difference between wontons and dumplings is the stuffing. Wontons are heavily related to seafood, while dumplings are typically stuffed with minced pork or shrimp. However, depending on the country or region, there are countless kinds of stuffings for both wontons and dumplings.

The Differences in Umami Flavor

Wontons are known for their umami flavor, which comes from the seafood and other secret ingredients in the stuffing. Dumplings, on the other hand, have a broader subcategory of umami flavor, depending on the meat and other ingredients used in the stuffing.

The Best Way to Serve Them

Wontons are best served in a soup or as an appetizer, while dumplings are a popular main course.

Click Here for More Information

For more information on wontons and dumplings, click here to explore the different shapes, stuffings, and dips that make these traditional Chinese foods so delicious.

Wontons FAQ: All Your Questions Answered

Wontons come in various forms, depending on the region and style of Chinese cuisine. Some of the most popular forms include:

  • Traditional Cantonese-style wontons, which are small and filled with ground pork and chopped vegetables
  • Szechuan-style wontons, which are spicy and often served in a chili oil sauce
  • Shanghai-style wontons, which are larger and often filled with a mixture of pork and shrimp
  • Vegetarian wontons, which contain a variety of vegetables and are a great option for those who don’t eat meat

What ingredients do I need to make wontons?

The ingredients you’ll need to make wontons will depend on the recipe you’re using, but some common ingredients include:

  • Wonton wrappers
  • Ground pork or turkey
  • Chopped vegetables (such as cabbage, carrots, and scallions)
  • Soy sauce
  • Sesame oil
  • Egg (for sealing the wontons)
  • Chicken or vegetable stock (for cooking the wontons)

How do I fold wontons?

Folding wontons can take a little practice, but once you get the hang of it, it’s fairly easy. Here’s a basic technique:

  1. Start by placing a small amount of filling (about a teaspoon) in the center of a wonton wrapper.
  2. Using your finger, wet the edges of the wrapper with a little water.
  3. Bring the corners of the wrapper together to form a triangle, and press the edges to seal.
  4. Take the two corners of the long side of the triangle and bring them together, pressing to seal.
  5. Repeat with the remaining wonton wrappers and filling.

Can I freeze wontons?

Yes, you can freeze wontons! Here’s how:

  1. Place the wontons on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  2. Make sure they’re not touching each other.
  3. Place the baking sheet in the freezer and freeze until the wontons are fully frozen (about 1-2 hours).
  4. Once the wontons are frozen, transfer them to a freezer-safe container or bag.
  5. Label the container or bag with the date and type of wontons.
  6. When you’re ready to eat the wontons, simply cook them from frozen using your preferred method.

What’s the best way to cook wontons?

There are a few different ways to cook wontons, depending on your preference. Some popular methods include:

  • Boiling: Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the wontons, and cook for 3-5 minutes or until they float to the surface.
  • Steaming: Place the wontons in a steamer basket and steam for 5-7 minutes.
  • Frying: Heat oil in a pan and fry the wontons until they’re golden brown and crispy.

What are some good sauces to serve with wontons?

There are many different sauces that pair well with wontons, including:

  • Soy sauce
  • Sweet chili sauce
  • Peanut sauce
  • Sesame oil and vinegar
  • Spicy mustard sauce

Are wontons healthy?

Wontons can be a balanced and healthy food choice, as long as you’re mindful of the ingredients you use and how you prepare them. Here are a few tips for making healthier wontons:

  • Use lean ground turkey instead of pork
  • Add plenty of vegetables to the filling
  • Use low-sodium soy sauce
  • Steam or boil the wontons instead of frying them

Where can I find wonton wrappers?

Wonton wrappers are available at most grocery stores in the refrigerated section. Look for them near the tofu and other Asian ingredients. If you can’t find them at your local store, you can also find them online or at an Asian grocery store.

What’s the ultimate wonton recipe?

There’s no one “ultimate” wonton recipe, as there are so many different versions and variations to choose from! However, here’s a simple and delicious recipe to get you started:

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 cup chopped vegetables (such as cabbage, carrots, and scallions)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Wonton wrappers
  • Chicken or vegetable stock
  1. In a large bowl, combine the ground pork, chopped vegetables, soy sauce, sesame oil, and egg.
  2. Place a small amount of filling (about a teaspoon) in the center of a wonton wrapper.
  3. Using your finger, wet the edges of the wrapper with a little water.
  4. Bring the corners of the wrapper together to form a triangle, and press the edges to seal.
  5. Take the two corners of the long side of the triangle and bring them together, pressing to seal.
  6. Repeat with the remaining wonton wrappers and filling.
  7. In a large pot, bring the chicken or vegetable stock to a boil.
  8. Add the wontons and cook for 3-5 minutes or until they float to the surface.
  9. Serve hot with your favorite dipping sauce.

Conclusion

So, that’s what wontons are- delicious Chinese dumplings filled with pork, chicken, or shrimp, and typically served as an appetizer or a snack. 

You can’t go wrong with wontons as a delicious and healthy addition to your diet, especially if you’re looking to lose weight. So, why not give them a try?

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

Try it out for free with Kindle Unlimited:

Read for free

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.