Beware — this is not an easy recipe! My family adds a few extra steps to impart deep umami flavor into the filling. We like toasting and grinding up dried baby shrimp powder, and sautéing mushrooms with onions for caramelization and extra fragrance, to name a few. In addition, I highly recommend that you mince the pork meat by hand for the best texture. However if you really do want a shortcut, you can go for pre-ground pork.
What can I substitute for pork & shrimp filling?
If you wish to not eat pork, you can substitute chicken! If you don’t want any shrimp in your filling, just increase the amount of shiitake mushrooms.
5 tips for the juiciest, most flavorful wontons:
Mincing the meat by hand
This is the key to getting the right texture for tasty wontons! Store-brought ground meat, while convenient, is often ground too finely. You want to taste the pieces of pork in the filling along with the snappy bites of shrimp.
Infusing the filling with aromatic water
This permeates the entire filling with so much additional flavor from the dried mushrooms, freshness from the ginger and scallions, and hint of spice from the Sichuan red peppercorns.
Sautéing the mushrooms and onions
This may seem unnecessary, but I promise — we tested batches with and without sautéing these, and there was such a clear difference in a blind taste test. The caramelized onions impart a slight sweetness. The mushrooms develop and add a deeper umami flavor to the overall filling.
Adding the secret ingredient: dried baby shrimp!
Traditionally, dried flounder fish powder is used in wonton noodle soup dishes. However, it’s a bit hard to find, even in San Francisco, where local Asian supermarkets are abundant. For that reason, we decided to try dried baby shrimp as a replacement -- these added the most subtle but delicious, seafood flavor. We’ll be using it to both season the filling and season the noodle soup broth. I got mine at 99 Ranch, but these from Amazon look very similar (please note I haven’t tried this specific brand).
Mixing the filling until it’s sticky and bouncy
This is essential in achieving the best texture for wontons. You must mix until you see the texture change: webs and strings of protein begin to form, and the meat becomes sticky and bouncy without being wet. I’ve tested batches where I didn’t mix enough, and they’re just not as good!
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Video on how to make the pork & shrimp wonton filling:
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Tips for folding wontons
There are many ways to fold a wonton! The methods will differ depending on which region of China you’re in or are learning from. Just remember that you don't have to make them pretty — as long as they’re sealed well to prevent the filling from leaking out during cooking, they’re as tasty as any other nicely-folded wonton.
Here’s a quick video tutorial below on 2 ways to fold a wonton. The first is how my dad taught me, and is most similar to Cantonese-folded wontons. The second method is a much simpler method — less pretty, but definitely still delicious.
How to store extra wontons
Typically I will double this recipe to make over 100 wontons and store most of them in the freezer for a quick meal later. After you finish wrapping all the wontons, freeze them in one layer for at least an hour, either on a plate or baking tray. Whatever you do, don’t stack them when you initially freeze them — they’ll stick together! After freezing them in one layer for about an hour or so, you can then transfer them all into a freezer storage bag or container. These will last you a couple of months.
Video on 2 ways to fold a wonton:
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Video on how to make wonton noodle soup:
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Pork & Shrimp Wonton Noodle Soup
Aromatic water for filling
- 3-4 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 2 inch knob of ginger
- 2 stalks scallions
- 2 teaspoon Sichuan red peppercorns (optional)
- 2 cups water
- 4 oz shrimp peeled and deveined
- ½ teaspoon baking soda or 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 8 oz pork shoulder (butt) with fat marbling
- 2-3 pearl onions or 1 medium shallot
- ¼ cup bamboo shoots
- ¼ cup dried baby shrimp (see recommendations above on which kind)
- 2-3 stalks scallions
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 2 teaspoon light soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon oyster sauce
- ½ teaspoon chicken bouillon powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- ⅛ teaspoon white pepper
- 2 tablespoon neutral oil (i.e. avocado, canola, vegetable)
For folding the wontons
- 60-70 thin wonton skins
- bowl of water
Make the aromatic water
- Lightly smash the piece of ginger and 2 stalks of scallions to help release its fragrance. In a bowl, add the smashed ginger, scallions, dried shiitake mushrooms, and Sichuan red peppercorns (optional).3-4 dried shiitake mushrooms, 2 inch knob of ginger, 2 stalks scallions, 2 teaspoon Sichuan red peppercorns
- Add about 2 cups of warm water and make sure the mushrooms are submerged. Let sit until mushrooms fully rehydrate (usually about 30-45 min) while you prep all the other ingredients.2 cups water
Prepare the filling ingredients
- Chop up the peeled and deveined shrimp into small bite-sized pieces. Put into a bowl with ½ teaspoon baking soda (or 1 teaspoon of cornstarch) and a pinch of salt. Mix well -- if it's really dry, add a few drops of water. Set aside and let marinade. The cornstarch will help the shrimp stay snappy and bouncy.4 oz shrimp, ½ teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon salt
- Finely dice the bamboo shoots and the pearl onions or shallots. Slice 2 stalks of scallions thinly, and keep the whites and greens separate. The whites will be for the wonton filling, and the green will be garnish for the soup. Set aside.2-3 pearl onions, ¼ cup bamboo shoots, 2-3 stalks scallions
- Mince the pork shoulder (butt) by first slicing the meat into thin, flat steaks. Then, slice those steaks into long strips. Turn the strips 90 degrees so that they're perpendicular to your knife, then slice into small cubes. Once they're small cubes, you can use a large cleaver or knife to continue chopping until they're minced. While mincing, you'll want to pause and occasionally fold the meat over itself to get a sticky, bouncy texture. See the video above for a quick tutorial and to see what the end result should look like. Set aside in a mixing bowl.8 oz pork shoulder (butt) with fat marbling
- Once the shiitake mushrooms are completely rehydrated (you can test by squeezing -- there should be no hardness to them), squeeze out the liquid, remove the tough middle stems, and finely dice. Save the aromatic water for the filling.
- Heat up a pan to medium heat with no oil and toast the dried baby shrimp until they're fragrant and slightly brittle. Remove and set aside. Add 1 tablespoon neutral oil, diced mushrooms, pearl onions or shallots, and a pinch of salt. Saute until they're slightly caramelized (about 3-4 minutes). Remove from the pan.3-4 dried shiitake mushrooms, ¼ cup dried baby shrimp, 2 tablespoon neutral oil, 2-3 pearl onions
- In a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, grind the dried baby shrimp into a powder. If you don't have either of these tools, you can try a rolling pin, or chop them up really finely.
Mix the filling
- In the mixing bowl with the minced pork, add all the seasonings: the dried shrimp powder, cornstarch, soy sauce, oyster sauce, salt, sugar, chicken bouillon powder, sesame oil, white pepper, and add the white parts of the scallions last, on top.1 teaspoon cornstarch, 2 teaspoon light soy sauce, 1 teaspoon oyster sauce, ½ teaspoon chicken bouillon powder, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon sugar, ½ teaspoon sesame oil, ⅛ teaspoon white pepper, dried shrimp powder, 2 stalks scallions
- (Optional) Heat up 2 tablespoon of neutral oil and pour over the scallions to bring out their fragrance -- it should sizzle. Alternatively, just add 2 tablespoon of neutral oil to the filling.2 tablespoon neutral oil
- Mix with either chopsticks or your hands vigorously in one direction (I usually go clock-wise), until everything is well incorporated.
- Add 2 tablespoon of the aromatic water, then mix vigorously again in the same direction, until the water is all absorbed. Repeat 3 times (total of 6 tablespoon of aromatic water).
- Continue mixing until you see the texture change as the meat proteins break down. You should see "webs" or "strings" of protein in the meat when you're mixing, and the texture should be sticky and bouncy. This took me a good few minutes of mixing. See video for reference!
- Once you're at the right texture, add the sautéed mushrooms and onions, marinated shrimp, and finely diced bamboo shoots. Mix one final time until everything is incorporated.
- Cover and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or up to overnight to let flavors marinade.
Fold the wontons
- Let your wonton skins come to room temperature from the fridge -- this will make them softer and more flexible. Take one wonton skin and add 1 teaspoon of filling to the middle.60-70 thin wonton skins
- Dip one or two fingers into the bowl of water, then line the edges of the wonton with it. This will help seal the wonton.bowl of water
- The easy method to fold a wonton is to gather up all the corners towards the middle, and press firmly. To see a video tutorial on two different methods, watch the video above!
- To store extra wontons, first freeze them in one layer on a plate or baking sheet. Don't stack them -- they need to first freeze separately to prevent them from sticking to each other. After an hour or so, you can put them all into a freezer storage bag or container and keep for a few months.
Make the noodle soup
- In the bowl you'll be eating from, add the seasonings for the noodle broth (see ingredients), to taste.chicken bouillon powder, white pepper, soy sauce, sesame oil
- Bring a large pot of water up to boil, then add your wontons. Make sure to boil these gently -- reduce the heat if necessary. Once the wontons have been boiling for about 4-5 minutes, add a half cup of cold water to the pot and let it come up to boil again. Once they are floating at the top, they're ready!
- Cook your thin egg noodles and greens in the same pot of water. These should only take several minutes.thin egg noodles, gailan, yu choy, or any preferred greens
- This step is optional, but I like to put the cooked egg noodles and greens in a bath of ice water to preserve a chewy, bouncy noodle texture and a slight crunch for the vegetables.
- Add a few ladles of the broth to your bowl. Add wontons, cooked noodles, and greens, and garnish with scallions or cilantro. Enjoy!scallions and/or cilantro