When I was a kid, my mom and I had a ritual. If we ever found ourselves alone for dinner, we’d pop over to our neighborhood Chinese joint. The order was always the same: A plate of Shanghai noodles to split and two orders of wonton soup. It wasn’t a common occurrence because I come from a family of 5. But even if my mom and I only split those noodles 4 or 5 times, those moments had a big impact on me. So much so that to this day, I get a warm and fuzzy feeling every time I see wonton soup on a menu. And that feeling was what I had in mind when I whipped up today’s Scallop Wonton Soup.
Now, before I get too far into this recipe, I should probably explain the flowers. Those delicate, white blooms are garlic chive blossoms and they have taken over my front garden. You see, I’m a very bad gardener, there is nothing constant about me. I’m usually overcome by a burst of botanical ambition at the beginning of spring, but it very quickly wanes. By August I’m quite literally in the weeds. It’s not great. I blame not having a yard of any kind for 10 years. I just don’t know how to deal with this new privilege.
But the wild garden hasn’t been all bad. Every now and then when I hack away at the overgrowth, I find a new flower that has somehow taken root. And a few years back I found garlic chives. I didn’t know at the time that garlic chives grow like weeds if you leave them to flower. So, I very stupidly catered to them and wound up with an entire front garden of them the following year. From that point on, my mission was clear: don’t let the darn things spread their seeds everywhere. So, I became obsessed with trimming, uprooting and all in all eradicating them from my garden and life.
But I couldn’t do it. Not just because they are a very stubborn, prolific plant, but because they smell of onion and garlic and all those nice things. And anything that smells pleasantly onion-y has to be edible, right? Well, I sure was right. Garlic chives are not commonly used culinarily speaking in North America but in many parts of Asia, they are as common an ingredient as the scallion, particularly in their native Shanxi province in China.
So, my garlic chive blossoms were food which meant I had to do something with them. Enter my fond memories of wonton soup. I know it’s slightly ridiculous, given my feelings about wonton soup, but I’d never made it before. I know! It’s thoroughly unlike me. So, with a fistful of Chinese blossoms in hand, it made perfect sense to give the soup a whirl.
Now, we all know how I love folded food parcels. I live for the tortellini and soup dumplings of the world. And in every one of those posts, I’ve warned that the folding process would be finicky. And I will do it again here. BUT I have to say these Scallop Wontons are pretty easy to get a handle on. They are certainly nothing next to a soup dumpling…Over a year later and I’m still painfully humbled by that folding experience.
The wonton comes in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, so the ones floating in my Scallop Wonton Soup are by no means the only way to wonton. While I was researching this recipe I came across several ways to fold a wonton and they all looked cute. And besides different folding styles, the treatment and flavoring of the wonton vary wildly from province to province. A Cantonese wonton will taste and look different from a Sichuan wonton.
The wontons in this Scallop Wonton Soup are similar to Shanghai soup wontons with a few exceptions. I swapped the typical shrimp and pork filling for a pork and scallop one and I added blossoms to the surface of the soup for dramatic effect. But I maintained the semi-clear chicken-based broth that typically accompanies Shanghai wonton soup and I employ the common folding technique.
So, how do you fold the darn things? Well, it’s surprisingly simple. Take a wonton wrapper and place a heaping teaspoon of the filling in the center. Fold one corner up to meet the other to form a triangle. Take the bottom corners and bring them towards the center to meet. Tuck one corner behind the other et voila! A wonton!
That about does it for this Scallop Wonton Soup. If you dig the stuff at the Chinese restaurant, you’ll be blown away by the home-cooked version. You’ve never had a bowl this fresh. And the scallops? Well, that’s just some next level decadence right there.
Scallop Wonton Soup with Garlic Chive Blossoms
- 400 g 14 oz scallops, minced
- 455 g 1 lb lean ground pork
- 1 227 mL, 7.5 fl oz can of water chestnuts, drained and minced
- 1 1-inch knob fresh ginger, minced
- 3 scallions thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup garlic chive blossoms tightly packed
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
- 2 teaspoons Chinese five spice powder
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 teaspoon cornstrach
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 400 g, 14 oz packaged of wonton wrappers
- 1 batch Wonton Soup Base see below
Wonton Soup Base
- 1 1-inch knob fresh ginger, cut into matchsticks
- 4 cloves of garlic thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 scallion thinly slice for sprinkling
- Additional garlic chive blossoms for sprinkling
For the Wontons
- Place all ingredients with the exception of the wonton skins in a large bowl. Using a clean hand, toss the ingredients until combined. Set aside.
- Pour a small amount of water in a little bowl and take a wonton skin. Wet all the edges of the wonton skin using your finger. Place 1 heaping teaspoon of the filling in the center of the wonton skin and fold the skin in half to form a triangle. Wet the bottom two points with some water and bring them to meet in the center. Fold one point underneath the other and press to form a seal. Transfer the finished wonton to a baking sheet dusted with cornstarch. Repeat until you run out of filling or skins or both.
- At this point, you can either cook your wontons right away or freeze them. If you choose to freeze them, simply place the baking sheet in your freezer for 1 hour. Once the hour has passed, remove the wontons from the sheet and place them in a large resealable freezer bag. The wontons will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.
For the Soup
- In a large saucepan, heat a quarter-sized amount of sunflower or canola oil. Add the garlic and ginger and saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Pour in the Shaoxing wine and deglaze the pan. Add the water and chicken stock to the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the soup to a simmer and stir in the soy sauce and sugar. Leave the soup to simmer for 20 minutes.
- Now, add half of the wontons (freeze the rest) to the soup. Cook for 7-10 minutes or until the wontons are tender.
- Remove the soup from the heat and divide amongst 4-6 bowls. Sprinkle each bowl with scallions and garlic chive blossoms. Serve immediately.