One of the simple soups that I’ve come to love when traveling in Asia is wonton soup. It is a simple, clear broth soup with delicate flavors and savory goodness that makes for a great appetizer or even a light meal (until you eat three bowls of it, that is. I dare you to stop at one). The other things that is great about this soup is that (like the Korean Jjigae that I posted recently) this soup is so simple and quick to make!
Now, let me say a few words about the broth. It can be a little deceptive in it’s simplicity. With only 3 ingredients, my first inclination was that I needed to add more to it; don’t be fooled. It ends up being the best part! It’s all about the umami (I’ve spoken about umami before here). MSG is a great source of umami and this soup is loaded with natural sources of it. When most people hear MSG, they think of the powder used in many Asian restaurants. A small part of the population is allergic to it (the artificial kind) and have symptoms ranging from headaches to nausea. The sad thing is that powdered MSG is not necessary if you are cooking correctly. For example, real chicken broth is a great source of MSG since it is found in bone marrow and is slowly extracted during the stock making process. Fish sauce is another great source of natural MSG. In this recipe, we mix the two together and POW, you have a rich umami overload! Since the wontons cook in the broth, they impart light notes of the savory goodness inside into the broth, leaving the broth both rich and flavorful, yet light and refreshing.
To make the broth for this soup, I took the carcass from a chicken that I had recently smoked. I picked the carcass clean then placed what was left, along with the giblets that came with the bird, added cold water in a large stock pot, and kept it at a low simmer for 12 hours. In the end, I was left with a condensed rich stock that tasted a bit smoky and that was seasoned from the rub I had used, but was still fairly light. I strained it and stored it in the fridge for a few days. Since I had simmered it for so long, it was really concentrated. I ended up adding water to it to thin it back to a normal broth (which is a great way to store it).
To add to the ease of this recipe, the wontons can be made fresh or frozen for up to 3 months.
1 lb – Fresh ground pork
8 oz – Shrimp, peeled, deveined, and coarsely chopped
2 cups – Shitake mushrooms, medium diced
1 Tbsp. – Ginger, freshly minced
1 Tbsp. – Garlic, freshly minced
1 Tbsp. – Sesame oil
2 Tbsp. – Rice wine vinegar
3 – Green onions, finely chopped
1/4 tsp. – White pepper
2 1/2 tsp. – Salt
1 package – extra thin wonton wrappers
2 quarts – Chicken broth
1/8 cup – Tiparos Fish SauceFish sauce
chives, salt, and white pepper
Prepare the wonton filling by adding the pork, shrimp, mushrooms, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, vinegar, green onions, white pepper, and salt in large bowl. Mix well. I use my hands to ensure that the meat is well mixed with the rest of the ingredients while not becoming over mixed.
Prepare a small bowl of water and a baking sheet. Take a wonton wrapper and gently wet the edges by dipping your finger in the bowl of water and rubbing the edges. Place 1-2 tsps. of filling in the center of the wrapper. Bring opposite corners together and pinch tightly, ensuring to seal the entire edge. Do the same on the other edges as pictured below.
Lay the completed wonton on the baking sheet. Repeat until you have used up the filling making sure that the wontons do not touch on the baking sheet. This recipe will make many more wontons than you will need for the amount of broth so you can freeze the rest for 3-6 hours (or overnight) then place them in a tight plastic bag for up to 3 months.
Prepare the broth by adding it to a large stock pot or soup pot. Add the fish sauce and bring to a low simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste. Once you are satisfied with the saltiness of the broth, add as many wontons as will fit (about 1/3-1/2 of the batch). Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, which takes about 5 minutes. Serve topped with minced chive.