Thursday, August 7, 2014

Wonton noodle soup

wonton noodle soup
Although I'm Chinese-American, I hardly ever cook Chinese. I'm pretty sure I'm a disgrace to my heritage, but it's because I always feel I can never match my mom's authentic Chinese cooking. She's one of those cooks who just throws things together with a bit of this and that. Her dishes always come out legit and unreplicable because she doesn't measure her ingredients. Therefore, my attempts to make Chinese food are few. Whenever we crave it, we usually eat out at our favorite restaurants. But last week, I caught a nasty bug during VBS, and spent the past two weeks not feeling up to par. I yearned for something warm, healthy, and comforting. Like classic wonton noodle soup - a childhood favorite that hasn't lost its place in my heart. But I wasn't feeling the restaurant rendition, which is usually greasy and full of MSG. Plus, they only dole out a few measly, mostly pork-filled wontons per bowl. And I wanted a ton of wontons full of fragrant herbs.

So I set out to make wonton noodle soup at home, reminiscent of how I recall my mom making it. While I was growing up, I would help her wrap hundreds of wontons while she prepared everything else. Making a good, authentic bowl of wonton noodle soup is nearly an all-day endeavor. But so, so worth it. I customized the wonton filling to my preferences. I love fresh chives, green onions, and cilantro, so I tossed in a bunch with lots of shrimp and some ground pork for some delectable wontons. The best part is, we gobbled up as many wontons as we wanted. I was most intimidated by the broth - authentic Chinese broths require hours-long simmering of bones and all kinds of stuff for which I had to trek to the Chinese supermarket. And animal bones kind of gross me out. But for authenticity's sake, the soup happened, with the addition of bok choy so we could get our servings of veggies. Though I've so much to learn in cooking Chinese cuisine, here's to hoping this small step made my ancestors proud ;)wonton noodle soup
Wonton Noodle Soup (adapted from here)
Ingredients:
16 cups water
1/3 cup chicken bouillon powder
1 lb pork (neck) bones*
3.5 oz dried shrimp*
2 yellow onions, sliced into 4 pieces per onion
6 cups bok choy*, rinsed
1 pkg fresh thin egg noodles*
2 pkg (50 ct) wonton skins*
1 lb ground pork
1 1/2 lbs shrimp, deveined and cut into 3-4 small pieces per shrimp
1/4 cup chives, chopped
1 stalk green onion, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 eggs
1 tbsp and 1 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp rice vinegar
3 tsp sesame oil
Sea salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Extra chopped chives, green onion, and cilantro for garnish
Lime wedges (optional)
Hoisin sauce and/or Sriracha sauce (optional but recommended)

Ingredients indicated by a * can be readily found at Chinese supermarkets.

Directions:
1. Make the broth: Add chicken bouillon powder to water and simmer pork bones in it for at least an hour (I did 3 hours). Add dried shrimp and onions. Simmer for another hour. In the last ten minutes, add bok choy and turn off heat when bok choy is cooked through. Note: I like making the broth a day in advance because after refrigerating overnight, you can skim off the fat, and then heat up the soup again. You can also make a "cheater" broth by heating up water and chicken boullion powder or chicken stock and garnishing with green onions if you don't have time to simmer a large stockpot of soup for hours.
2. Make the wonton filling: In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly mix the pork, shrimp, chives, green onions, cilantro, eggs, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, sea salt, and pepper. Filling should be sticky and slightly wet. Test your filling by putting a half teaspoonful in a bowl. Microwave it for up to 30 seconds, or until cooked. Taste it. If it is too bland for your liking, add some soy sauce. If it's too crumbly, add another egg or some sesame oil. A good filling will not require a dipping sauce.
3. Wrap the wontons: Place a few big plates in front of you. Have water in a small bowl nearby. Angle a wonton wrapper so that it faces you like a diamond. Wet all four edges with dabs of water. Place a quarter-size spoonful of filling in the middle. Close the wonton by forming a triangle: fold the bottom tip to the top tip. Scrunch lightly to form pleats around the pocket of filling to pinch out as much air as possible. Here are 8 ways to fold wontons. Place folded wonton on plate. Repeat until filling is used up. Note: If you are not planning to eat all the wontons at once, you can freeze them on a baking tray lined with wax paper (make sure they don't touch one another). Then toss in freezer bags and use within 2 months.
4. Boil a large pot of water. Cook noodles until al dente, about 3 minutes. Divide noodles into 4 large bowls. Add soup to each bowl.
5. In the same boiling pot of water, add wontons and cook over medium heat, stirring gently until done, about 5 minutes, or when wontons float to the top. Cut one open to check for doneness. Add wontons to each bowl of noodle soup. Garnish with chives, green onion, a wedge of lime, and cilantro. Serve immediately with hoisin and sriracha sauces as wonton condiments.

6 comments:

  1. I love wonton noodle soup. I grew up eating it back home but since moving to the US, I haven't had any. You did a great job making it and should be so proud. I gave up just when I saw a list of ingredients...lol. Yum..yum.

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  2. wow,this looked really yummy!! and very 'chinese'..your noodles soup made me drooling.
    i can't cook either.my mum always did the job very well.we are just the helpers-washing those veges or slicing meats. i always hoping that once i got my own kitchen,i will make my mum move to stay with me..i'm sure lot of recipes can be learn.

    xo josephine c.
    www.joselovincolors.com

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  3. It looks absolutely delicious! Now I'm craving wontons!!!

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  4. i love making asian dumplings. they are my fave to make. easy and so filling :)

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  5. Hahaha oh man, you crack me up, but this soup does sound incredibly delicious. I may be adding it to my list of "to try's" ;)

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