Make, Jane, make!: Cabbage and Leek Wontons


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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Cabbage and Leek Wontons

I haven't made wontons in a long time and after making them last weekend, I wonder why I've neglected them for so long?

They are so simple and taste so good. Juicy, meaty filling surrounded by a silky, slurpy egg noodle wrapper and dipped into delicious soy. With the wonton skins being so readily available and the endless variations you can try with the meat/veggie fillings, they are the ultimate store-bought, yet homemade, food. Add on the fact that you can disguise a whole lot of veggies in there and you've got a great covert recipe for the kids.

I made these wontons with what I had on hand - some leeks, most of a bunch of cilantro and frozen shredded cabbage from my farmshare.

The key to good wonton (or any Chinese dumpling filling for that matter) is mixing the meat and the ingredients together really well.

You want to mix the meat and then the meat and ingredients really well until the mixture forms a ball and the veggies are crushed and mashed.

I usually mix with a pair of chopsticks because that's the way I was taught. You could probably do this in a stand mixed or a food processor, but I find chopsticks pulverize the meat and veggies without blending them into a completely texture-less mess.

Usually you don't want the mixture so blended that you lose the sense of the individual ingredients ... which is why I recommend against a food processor and I've always stuck with the chopsticks.

I like filling my wontons fairly full, I figure quality fillings and lots of them is what distinguishes homemade ones from MSG-laden store-bought wontons.

You don't need any special equipment to form the wonton. Just some filling and a little water around the top two edges. Fold, press and seal.

Here are all my little wontons, laid out on a cookie sheet that was lightly sprinkled with flour. Half are boiling water bound and the other half are freezer bound.

I do have to admit that freezing homemade wontons always results in quite a few with cracked skins. I don't know if this could be alleviated by wrapping the wontons in plastic before freezing or by chilling them in the fridge first? If anyone knows the answer to this conundrum, I would be very appreciative :)

A little time in salted, boiling water and they're done. (I had a little meat leftover because one of my wonton packages was only half-full and you can see I also boiled a few skinless wontons, aka meatballs). We eat them just dipped into a little soy, nothing special, and as simple as the wontons themselves are.


Cabbage and Leek Wontons Yield: approximately 60 wontons

1 lb ground pork
1 large leek, white and light green parts, minced
1/3 small head of cabbage, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
1 bunch cilantro, tough stems removed, finely chopped
1 inch piece ginger, grated
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 packages wonton wrappers (about 250g each)
bowl of water

  1. Place the ground pork into a large bowl and stir with a pair of chopsticks until the meat starts looking like  chunky mashed potatoes.
  2. Stir in the leeks, cabbage, cilantro and ginger a little at a time. Keep on stirring until the mixture forms a cohesive ball and the vegetables are a bit pulverized and not lumpy.
  3. Stir in soy and pepper. You can let it sit at this point to let the meat marinate... but I wouldn't let it stand more than an hour or so because the salt in the soy starts drawing a lot of water out of the meat and it's very hard to wrap using filling that's too wet.
  4. Lightly flour a large cookie sheet and set aside, this will be for the finished wontons.
  5. Working with one wonton skin at a time, place it in the palm of your hand and using your chopsticks a generous amount of the meat filling in the middle of the wrapper.
  6. Dip a finger into a bowl of water and lightly wet the upper two edges of the wonton skin. Fold the bottom half of the wrapper over and pinch and press the edges closed.
  7. To cook: Bring a large, salted pot of water to a rolling boil. Drop the wontons in, taking care not to overcrowd the pot. Once the water returns to a boil and the wontons are all floating on the top, add in a bowlful of cold water and wait for the water to come to a boil for a second time. Now your wontons are ready to eat!

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