making wontons
Food,  Recipes

Wrapping up 2018 and wrapping up some Shanghainese wontons

This is my last post for 2018, and as I wrap up the year, I’m going to share a very traditional recipe that also requires some wrapping up.  Today I’m sharing our family recipe for Shanghainese wontons.  It takes a bit of effort, but homemade wontons are much yummier than store-bought frozen ones, definitely worth the time.  We always make extra to put in the freezer for later as well.

Leaving aside cantonese wontons for now, there’s usually two types of Shanghainese wontons:  small ones or big ones.  Literally that’s what they’re called in Chinese.

Small wontons (小云吞)- usually filled with just meat and maybe some shrimps, these are “wrapped” as if the person making them was in a big hurry, just squeezed together to seal the meat in the wrapper.

Large wontons (大云吞) – or you can look at it as the standard size, are filled with a mixture of meat and veggies and are properly wrapped and folded neatly.  Today’s recipe is for these large wontons.

Typically, wontons are served in soup, which is usually a light clear broth/stock, with chopped green onions and a bit of white pepper and sesame oil.  You can also serve them dry with a spicy and tangy szechuan style sauce.

Shanghainese style wontons

Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 1 hr 10 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 6


  • 4 bunches watercress (*or other leafy green veg)
  • 1.5 pounds ground pork meat
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • 2 packs fresh wonton wrappers available at asian grocers


The filling

  • Wash the watercress in cold water.  
  • Boil the watercress until just cooked.  You want the veggies to still be bright green, not overcooked. Drain and squeeze out as much of the water as you can. 
    Cooked watercress
  • Chop up the veggies.  You can use a food processor for this part, but it tends to over chop the veggies and gets a bit too mushy.  If you have the time and patience, hand chopping is best. 
    Chop watercress
  • Mix together the chopped veggies with the mince pork.  
  • Add an egg. Add salt and pepper to taste. Roughly two teaspoons of salt and a good few cracks of fresh black pepper. 
    Add egg to mince pork

Wrapping the wontons. Set up a little wonton making station at your dining table or countertop and make yourself comfortable. You should have laid out in front of you: your bowl of filling with chopsticks to be used for scooping (or teaspoon if you like), wonton wrappers, a small bowl of cold water, and some non-stick trays to place the wrapped wontons on.

  • The quality of the wonton wrappers matter a lot.  Ideally, you want a wrapper that has a silky and smooth texture after cooking, but that is decently thick so that it holds up well during boiling.  Luckily in Vancouver, there are lots of asian grocers that carry good ones.  We get these from the Richmond public market, from a little store that makes fresh wonton and dumpling wrappers and noodles.  
    wonton wrappers
  • Take a sheet of wonton wrapper and scoop a tsp sized amount of the filling into the centre.  
    Making wontons
  • Dip your right index finger into the bowl of cold water and wipe the wet finger along the bottom of the wonton (see image), to create a wet strip.  
  • Fold the wonton wrapper over, in half widthwise, and press down along where the wet strip was.  You're creating a bit of a seal here now. 
    making wontons
  • Now place your two thumbs along the bottom edge and fold the top two corners around.  Dip your finger into the water bowl again and wet one of the top corners and fold so the two corners touch.  Squeeze together so the two corners are sealed together. 
    making wontons
  • This is what the finished wonton should look like.  
    making wontons
  • Place on non-stick tray in neat rows.  We used to save the bottoms of our cake trays which were perfect for this purpose.  You can also line baking trays with parchment paper. 
    making wontons
  • If you want to serve this as wonton soup, bring a big pot of water to boil and drop wontons in.  Boil until wontons are cooked and floating to the surface.  
    For your soup base, you can go fancy and create chicken or pork bone soup stock from scratch or you can use some buillon and create a soup stock that you season with some sesame oil and chopped green onions.  Scoop out your cooked wontons into bowls of this soup and serve.
  • You can also serve it dry with a szechuan style sauce.  I'll share the recipe for that separately.  To serve it like this, drain the wontons from the boiling water, place into a big bowl, and mix a few teaspoons of the sauce in right away, before the wontons start sticking together.  
    Making wontons


*Instead of watercress, you can also use another leafy green like boy choy.  Boy choy tends to contain more water, so you might need to use more of the veggie and squeeze more of the water out after cooking the veggie.  
Any extra wontons can be frozen.  The trick is to freeze them for a little while stil on the trays, then take them off and pack them into bags.  This will prevent you from having a giant block of 20 stuck-together frozen wontons.
You can serve frozen ones the same way, just need to cook a little longer as the frozen fillings need a bit longer to cook.  Or, you can serve them potsticker style but pan-frying on a non-stick pan, adding a of bit  water and placing a lid over it to steam and cook thoroughly, then remove lid and finish by letting the wontons cook until all liquid is dry and the bottoms are golden and crispy.  Careful not to let it burn.
Cooked and served mixed together with the “red oil” spicy sauce

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