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|Simplified Chinese||1. 馄饨|
|Traditional Chinese||1. 餛飩|
|Literal meaning||1. irregularly shaped dumpling|
2. cloud swallow
3. crossed hands
4. clear soup
5. flat/small food
A wonton (simplified Chinese: 云吞; traditional Chinese: 雲吞), also spelled wantan, or wuntun in transliteration from Cantonese; wenden/ɦwəɲd̼əɲ/ in Shanghainese; Mandarin: húntun (馄饨/餛飩) is a type of Chinese dumpling commonly found across regional styles of Chinese cuisine.
Yang Xiong from the western Han Dynasty mentioned: "bing Wei Zhi tun", which means wontons are a type of bread. The difference is that wonton has fillings inside and is eaten after being steamed or boiled.
Ancient Chinese thought wonton were a sealed bun, lacking "Qi Qiao" (seven orifices). So it was called "hun tun," which means chaos. Based on the Chinese method of making characters, later it changed the name to "hun dun" (wonton). At that time, wonton had no difference from dumplings.
For hundreds of years, dumplings hadn't changed, but wonton became popular in the southern part of China and developed a distinct style. From the time of the Tang Dynasty, people began to differentiate the name of dumpling (jiaozi) and wonton.
Differences from jiaozi
Wonton resemble jiaozi (餃子) dumplings but usually have smaller filling and wrapped in a thin 6x6cm2 yellow square dough wrapper or an isosceles trapezoid and folded into a triangular shape resembling a Chinese gold ingot known as yuanbao (元寶) while jiaozi is wrapped in a slightly thicker circular white dough wrapper with larger filling and either flat or pleated edges.
The wonton dough wrapper is sometimes referred to as a wonton skin and becomes transparent after being thoroughly boiled. It takes a shorter time to boil a wonton. The texture is also very smooth.
Wontons are traditionally served in soup, but jiaozi is usually eaten with dipping sauce.
Preparation and filling
Wontons are made by spreading a square wrapper (a dough skin made of flour, egg, water, and salt) flat in the palm of one's hand, placing a small amount of filling in the center, and sealing the wonton into the desired shape by compressing the wrapper's edges together with the fingers. Adhesion may be improved by moistening the wrapper's inner edges, typically by dipping a fingertip into water and running it across the dry dough to dissolve the extra flour. As part of the sealing process, air is pressed out of the interior to avoid rupturing the wonton from internal pressure when cooked.
The most common filling is ground pork and shrimp with a small amount of flour added as a binder. The mixture is seasoned with salt, spices, and often garlic or finely chopped green onion. Factory-made, frozen varieties are sold in supermarkets. Commonly, they are handmade at the point of sale in markets or small restaurants by the proprietor while awaiting customers. In markets, they are sold by the unit, without being pre-cooked.
Shapes and cooking methods
Wontons are commonly boiled and served in soup or sometimes deep-fried. There are several common regional variations of shape.
The most versatile shape is a simple right triangle, made by folding the square wrapper in half by pulling together two diagonally opposite corners. Its flat profile allows it to be pan-fried like a guotie (pot sticker) in addition to being boiled or deep-fried.
A related kind of wonton is made by using the same kind of wrapper, but applying only a minute amount of filling (frequently meat) and quickly closing the wrapper-holding hand, sealing the wonton into an unevenly squashed shape. These are called xiao huntun (literally "little wonton") and are invariably served in a soup, often with condiments such as pickles, ginger, sesame oil, and cilantro (coriander leaves).
Each region of China has its own variations of wonton, examples include Beijing, Sichuan, Hubei, Jiangnan, Jiangxi, Guangdong (Canton), Fujian, etc.
In Cantonese cuisine, shrimp-filled wonton within minced pork is most commonly served with thin noodles to make wonton noodles. It may also be consumed with red vinegar. The soup is made from boiling shrimp shells, pork bones and dried flounder to give it a distinct taste. Hong Kong wontons were introduced to the area after World War II as street food and later indoor eateries. Wonton are served in variety of sizes with smallest being two wonton and noodles called Sai Yung.
In Sichuan, semi-pentagonal wonton are known as "folded arms" (Chinese: 抄手; pinyin: chāo shǒu) since after initially folding the wonton skin into a right triangle, each end of the hypotenuse is pressed against the middle of opposite sides, creating an impression of crossed arms/hands. These are often served in a sesame paste and chili oil sauce as a dish called "red oil wonton" (Chinese: 红油抄手; pinyin: hóng yóu chāo shǒu).
In Shanghai and its surrounding area (Jiangnan, nowadays Yangtze River Delta), wonton filling is most often made with minced meat (usually pork) and shepherd's purse served in chicken soup; however, Shanghai cuisine makes a clear distinction between small wontons and large wontons. The former are casually wrapped by closing the palm on a wrapper with a dab of pork filling as if crumpling a sheet of paper. These are popular accompaniments to breakfast or brunch fare. The "large" wontons are carefully wrapped, in a shape similar to tortellini, and a single bowl can serve as lunch or a light dinner. They are available with a large variety of fillings; a popular Shanghai fast food chain offers more than 50 varieties. One popular variety in Shanghai which is said to have originated in Suzhou is "three delicacies wonton" (san xian hun tun), which contains pork, shrimp and fish as primary ingredients.
Ningbo wonton come in two types, steamed wonton and wonton soup. Both are filled with pork and shrimp. Available at many Chinese-American restaurants, these wontons became popular due to their traditional preparation.
Jiangsu is often called "wonton". Wonton have two types, small wontons and big wontons. Big wontons are a large ingot shape. Generally boiled with boiled water, point lard with MSG, the soup will usually be matched with thin egg omelette, seaweed, mustard greens, and shrimp.
In American Chinese cuisine (and occasionally in Canada as well), wontons are served in two ways: in wonton soup (wontons in a clear broth), and as an appetizer called fried wontons. Fried wontons are served with a meat filling (usually pork), and eaten with duck sauce, plum sauce, sweet and sour sauce, or hot mustard. A version of fried wontons filled with a cream cheese and crab filling is called crab rangoon. Another version of fried wontons is filled with a mixture of cream cheese, green onions, soy sauce and garlic.
Wonton strips, deep-fried strips made from wonton wrappers and served with hot mustard or other dipping sauce, are a common complimentary appetizer in American-style Chinese restaurants.
In the Philippines, fried wontons are often called pinseques fritos (pinsec frito in the Castilian singular). Pritong pinsek is the Cebuan and Tagalog name. It also figures in the noodle soup pancit Molo, named after the Molo district of Iloilo City. Wonton wrappers in the broth serve as the noodles in the dish.
In Indonesian Chinese cuisine, they are called pangsit and are served fried or in soup, usually with Chinese noodles.
In Peruvian-Chinese gastronomic fusion called Chifa, wonton, called wantán in Peru, can be found fried with meat filling to eat with rice or Tallarín saltado, and also in wonton soup or sopa wantán.
In Thailand, wonton are called kiao (เกี๊ยว, pronounced [kía̯w]), from the Hokkien pronunciation of 饺 (Mandarin: jiǎo; "dumpling"). Wonton soup is called kiao nam (เกี๊ยวน้ำ, [kía̯w náːm]); the soup is made with chicken stock and the wontons made with a pork filling. The soup is very famous in Thailand.
In Northern Europe, mainly Russia (where they are called пельмени pelmenyi) and Estonia (where they are called pelmeenid), wontons are usually filled with minced meat. They are eaten either boiled or fried, and many people eat them with vinegar and sour cream.
In Cantonese, they are called wantan (simplified Chinese: 云吞; traditional Chinese: 雲吞; Jyutping: wan4tan1; Cantonese Yale: wàhn tān), which literally means "cloud swallow" because when they are cooked, the dumplings float in the broth like small clouds.
Hundun (混沌, close pronunciation to Hundun 馄饨) is also a legendary faceless being in Chinese mythology and the primordial and central chaos in Chinese cosmogony, comparable with the World egg.
A plate of fried wonton calls Pangsit Goreng (锦卤馄饨) with sweet and sour sauce of Indonesian Chinese cuisine.
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