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“W” is for Wonton #AtoZChallenge @AprilA2Z

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W-Wanton-AtoZChallengeA Wonton by any other name is still a… Dumpling!  Wonton, which can also be written as “wantan”, “wanton”, or “wuntun”, is a type of dumpling commonly found in Chinese cuisine.

The  English name “wonton” can be written in Chinese either as “húndùn” the usual northern Chinese name meaning roughly “irregularly shaped pasta”, or the more poetic “yúntūn” a popular Cantonese homonym that literally means “swallowing clouds”.  In Sichuan, wontons are known as “chāo shǒu” and are often served in a sesame paste and chili oil sauce as a dish called “red oil wonton”.

wonton-soupA wonton is made with a thin ten-centimeter square lye-water pastry wrapper made of wheat flour, water, salt, and lye, and filled with savory minced meat. The filling is typically made of minced pork, coarsely diced shrimp, finely minced ginger, finely minced onions, sesame oil, and soy sauce. Wontons can be served in soup or deep-fried. Although commonly referred to as “dumplings”, wontons are filled with pasta similar to Italian tortellini or ravioli, or Jewish kreplach. The thin wonton wrapper gives boiled wontons a texture similar to small meatballs.

Dumplings may be any of a wide variety of dishes, both sweet and savory, in several different cuisines. They are either made from balls of dough or are small parcels of food encased in pastry, dough, batter, or leaves.

The jiaozi is a Chinese dumpling that consists of minced meat and chopped vegetables wrapped into a piece of dough. Popular meat fillings include ground pork, ground beef, ground chicken, ground lamb, shrimp, and even fish. Popular mixings are pork with Chinese cabbage, lamb with spring onion, leeks with eggs, etc. Jiaozi are usually boiled or steamed. Jiaozi is a traditional dish for Chinese New Year’s Eve. Family members would get together to make dumplings.


Fried Wonton

If they are shallowly fried, they are called guotie or potstickers. Compared to wontons (dumplings served boiled in a soup), jiaozi has thicker skin and is longer. Also, jiaozi has different wrappings and ways to wrap.

Chinese cuisine includes sweet dumplings. Also commonly found is tangyuan. These are smaller dumplings made with glutinous rice flour and filled with very sweet sesame, peanut, or red bean paste. There are also other kinds of dumplings such as Har Kao, Siew Mai, Small Cage-Steamed Bun, Pork Bun, and Crystal Dumplings.

Wontons and dumplings use two very different styles of wrappers and very different styles of wrapping. Dumplings have a thick doughy wrapper made of just flour and water, while wontons have a much thinner wrapper made with flour, water, and egg. The fillings are similar, but not quite the same.   The basic difference between a dumpling and a wonton is that a wonton is always filled.


Wrapping a Wonton

To summarize, the difference between Dumplings and Wontons are:

  • The wrapper of dumplings is thicker than the wrapper of wontons.
  • The word wonton is a Romanization of the Cantonese word hundun which literally means dumpling.
  • Chinese cuisines have many different types of dumplings and a wonton is just one of them.
  • Wontons are always filled with meats whereas generic dumplings across the world can be eaten without a filling.

The very best Wonton Soup that we have found so far in our Quest was the “House Special Wonton Soup” served at The Orient, in Bethpage, NY.  Or, as we share in a recipe a few months ago, you can make your own Wonton Soup too!

Which Chinese restaurant serves YOUR favorite bowl of wonton soup?

Humbly submitted for your consumption,

Mee Magnum  (“Chop!  Chop!”)

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  1. One year I was in Dublin on Chinese New Year, my Chinese flatmate made a lot of dumplings… well, we helped her too. And then we ate lots of them, and she kept saying, eat, eat, because apparently, the more of them you eat on New Year’s Day, the more lucky you’ll be during the year.

    And it wasn’t hard either, I love dumplings:-)

  2. I am slightly embarrassed to say that I used both those terms interchangeably, and never gave much thought to the difference. Now I know better. Thanks for sharing.

  3. My husband’s Hebrew name is Yonaton. His nickname in Hebrew School was Wonton

  4. I love wontons, fried or in soups, or any other way. I love dumplings too. I used to make wontons, but since I’ve switched to low carb I haven’t found a way to make them successfully with low carb flour. I am still pursuing low carb pasta of any kind. I have a flour to try, but haven’t gotten the time to experiment with it yet. This inspires me!

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