Friday, March 23, 2007

Wonton Soup – When was the last time you got to “swallow clouds?”

Half the fun of doing this blog is the research I do about the various dishes, so I can give you all a little bit of extra info in the posts. Even after so many years of cooking and eating, I’m still amazed at the new things I learn. Of course, most of it comes from wikipedia, so it may be complete BS, but what the hell, most of it sounds like it could be right. Today’s clip is a wonderfully easy wonton soup. So, I thought I better find out what exactly a “wonton” is and where the term came from. I found two translations, and boy, are they different!

The term "wonton" is mostly commonly translated as meaning "irregularly shaped pasta." But, the second translation I found is apparently from a popular Cantonese homonym that literally means "swallowing clouds." So, if given the choice between eating "irregularly shaped pasta," or "swallowing clouds," I’m going with the clouds every time!

When making wonton soup there are two basic approaches; make highly-seasoned, full-flavored wontons and cook them in a fairly plain broth, or make a more plain, subtlety flavored wonton and cook it in a highly-seasoned, full-flavored broth. You know we have to consider that old Yin Yang balance thing. My method, as seen in this clip, is closer to the first style. This is also a great soup to clean out the veggie drawers in the fridge, as almost any thinly sliced vegetables would work in this soup.

As you’ll see, the broth part of this dish is really simple, the pork filling is also extremely easy, but what scares the average cook away from trying this dish is the folding of the wontons. I have you covered! Not only do I show you how to do the basic fold in my clip, but below the ingredient list I’ve also added another clip, of another cook demonstrating three different wonton folds (and as much as I hate to admit it, he does a much better job!). So, after watching my clip, check out his clip also (he even uses a baseball analogy). Enjoy!

For the Wontons:
1 pound ground pork
3 minced green onions
3 cloves crushed garlic
1 1/2 tbl fresh grated ginger or puree
1 tbl soy sauce
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tbl dry sherry wine
1 tsp hot sauce
1/4 tsp sesame oil
square wonton wrappers

For the broth
1 1/2 quarts chicken stock or broth
4 oz sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms
sliced bok choy (or any other veggies!)
green onion tops to garnish
Note: according to your taste, you can add more ginger, onion, soy, hot pepper, cilantro, lime, lemongrass, etc. to customize this broth. I went with a very basic broth for the purposes of this demo.

Extra Special Bonus Wonton Folding Demo (thanks to Chris aka cmtoy on YT)


Anonymous said...

Thanks for such a wonderful blog. Glad I found you on

All of your dishes you have presented clearly and slooowly so I can take it all in!

Keep it up - I have you favourited!



Chef John said...

Thanks!! Please help spread the word! Spam your friends! ;)
Happy cooking!

Anonymous said...

my mom makes them in bundles/little purses. Wetting all sides the picking up the four corners and giving it a twist.Either way good.

Anonymous said...


I just made your delicious wontons today. The bottle of dry sherry I bought was a little big. How long does it stay good for?


Chef John said...

great! It will last over a year if kept in a cool dark place.

TripleB said...

Chef John,

I just found your blog via

I thank you for your fantastic videos. I'm plannig to make your wonton soup recipe this weekend.

I followed your rosemary/thyme/lemon roasted chicken recipe (and gravy) last weekend and it was (as you assured) the best roast chicken I've cooked. The gravy turned out better than any other I've tried.


-- Jon

Anonymous said...

This is a really delicious recipe. I tried it with ground beef, chicken, and shrimp. I don't know why, but ground pork seemed to be the best.

Ann Marie said...

I made these last night and the flavor was outstanding. Unfortunately the wonton wrappers became very mushy by the time the pork was cooked and I couldn't get over the consistency of it. How do you keep the wonton wrappers from overcooking - maybe I'm too paranoid about my cooking time for pork. The recipe also made a ton (should have known considering 1lb of pork was called for) and my wontons overcrowded the pot and started sticking to one another. Think I may cut the recipe in half next time.

Chef John said...

since you only put a little bit of pork in it cooks in just a few minutes, no need to cook til mushy!

I never add all the wontons at one time, there are too many. Just make it in batches.

missatam said...

Hi Chef John,

I see you like the translation for "swallowing clouds". Here's how that name came to be. Wontons originate in the colder regions of China as a cheap street food. As opposed to us sitting comfortably at dining tables in nice restaurants, patrons in China eat their wontons by the stall right on the street. Passerbys basically see a couple of elbows sticking out on either side of a cloud of steam as the patrons shovel down these juicy little dumplings.

Thanks showing us how to cook such a wide range of different foods!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Chef John,

I just made this and it is fantastic. Thank you sooo much for all of your great recipes!! You are my inspiration for cooking!