Wontons are small dumplings with a variety of fillings that are cooked either by steaming or frying. Wontons are well known Chinese food with a popularity spread across the globe. Wontons are also spelled as wantons, wonton in restaurant menus; however, they all mean the same.
Different Shapes & Methods Used in Making Wontons:
Wonton is a dumpling filled with a spicy ingredient and serves as a side dish of many different types of Chinese cuisines. It can be pronounced as wantan, wanton, or wuntun in Cantonese while the Mandarins call the dumplings as huntuns. The wonton recipes are usually distinguished on the basis of their fillings which can vary widely. The commonest fillings usually consist of minced pork, shrimps, oysters, sesame oil along with soy sauce and a grated mixture of ginger, cabbage and carrots. A wonton is generally dropped in a soup or served as deep fried snacks. The shape of a wonton varies widely according to the region as well. The right angled shape is the most popular one with its flat shape giving it the additional benefit of being pan fried as well. The globule shaped wonton recipes are strikingly similar to the larger Korean dim sums and are usually used to flavor soups. The uneven squashed shaped wonton is also known as the xiao huntun which is served with a variety of condiments especially sesame oil, ginger and coriander leaves.
History Of Wonton Recipes
The traditional wonton is believed to have been originated in North China. The innocuous dumpling was first created as a bun without any holes and named as ‘Huidun’ which means chaos. The name of later changed to wonton according to the formation of the Chinese characters. These delicately wrapped dumplings were particularly relished by the Chinese people living under the rule of the Tang and Song dynasty. The fillings were subtly spiced and enjoyed by the poets and royalty of China initially. It is traditionally eaten during the midwinter in some regions of China, a practice started by the ancient Chinese doctor Zhang Zhongjing who is said to have prepared special dumplings by following wonton recipes which made use of medicinal herbs. This type of wonton helped in curing frostbite during the harsh winters in China.
Ingredients And Wonton Recipes
The wonton wrapper is fashioned out of dough made by mixing flour with water. The wrapper is generally placed on the palm and sealed off after placing a small quantity of the filling in the center. The edges of the wonton are closed off by pressing them together with the aid of fingers. Moistening the wrapper with a little water helps in better adhesion as well as removing the extra flour from the wrapper. The air present within the dumpling needs to be let out carefully according to the traditional wonton recipes in order to prevent the rupture of the dumplings during frying. The fillings that go into the wonton vary according to different Chinese cuisines. The most popular wonton recipes for preparing the fillings are:-
• Cantonese- Shrimp filled wontons are served with pork meat and noodles. The wontons are also served with red vinegar and the soup made by boiling shrimp shells, pork bones and flounder. The Hong Kong style wonton achieved popularity after World War II when it started selling as street food.
• Sichuan- The pentagonal shaped wonton which looks strikingly similar to crossed arms is the specialty of this region. It is served with sesame paste and chili oil and the dish is known as red oil wonton.
• Shanghai- The filling recommended by wonton recipes of Shanghai consists of minced pork meat and bok choy, the Chinese cabbage. Traditionally served with chicken soup, it is distinguished by its size where the smaller ones are served for breakfast or brunch and the larger dumplings consumed during the main meals.
• Ningbo- This people of this region consumes wonton in soups as well as in the steamed form. The filling for both the types are made from a mixture of shrimps and pork.
• North American - The Americans and Canadians eat the wontons in a clear broth like soup or prefer to eat them dry as fried wontons. The deep fried variation does not contain any filling and is served with duck sauce or the Chinese mustard. A filling prepared from crab meat or cream cheese is also used to stuff the wonton occasionally.
Nutritional Value Of Wontons
The deep fried variety of wontons is particularly high in fat and cholesterol with modest amounts of sodium as well. A number of vitamins and minerals can be found in a bowl of wonton soup which contains the steamed or boiled dumplings. The USDA statistics reveal that a serving of wonton soup contains about 12g of carbohydrates and 15g of proteins with just 1g of fat. There are no appreciable amounts f saturated fats present within the soup with the rest of the dish being made up of water and nutrients. Dietary fibers are however, completely absent in wontons.
Miss Wonton is a 2001 Hollywood film which depicts the story of a Chinese woman residing in New York.