Wonton soup with homemade tofu and shiitake mushroom wontons, swimming in a rich and fragrant broth flavoured with star anise and lemongrass.
Asian supermarkets are one of my happy places. I have spent countless hours wandering the aisles, reading labels and sniffing packets to identify the mysteries that lie within.
Invariably I come home with what I went in for (maybe tofu or dumpling wrappers) and a handful of other new-to-me ingredients to experiment with. I’m not sure what to do with wasabi oil yet, but I’m sure it’s going to be great!
One thing I regularly buy is dried shiitake mushrooms. They’re great value and pump up the flavour of many Asian style dishes with their deep umami flavour. Dried shiitake mushrooms are incredibly simple to prepare – just cover them with boiling water and leave for half an hour or so to reconstitute. Then squeeze out the liquid and use them as you would a fresh mushroom. Don’t throw the soaking liquid away! It’s full of flavour and you can add it into a stock or broth, or freeze it to use at a later date.
Dumplings are one of my favourite things to make when I have a little bit of time up my sleeve. I most often make Japanese-style gyoza dumplings, steam fried and delicious with a spicy dipping sauce. They’re fun to make and so delicious. This week I thought I’d change my dumpling routine a bit and make these silky wontons in an aromatic broth. I went with a mince-like filling of fork-mashed tofu, shiitake mushrooms, coriander (cilantro), garlic chives, fresh ginger and soy sauce.
Making homemade wontons is also way easier (and faster) than gyoza, because there’s no fancy pleating of the wrappers to do. I lay out my wrappers on the benchtop, put about a tablespoon of filling on each one, brush half of the exposed wrapper with water then fold on the diagonal to seal. Carefully smooth any air out from around the filling, because air bubbles equal burst wontons. Really, you can fold them any way you like. I like to join the bottom two corners so that the wonton looks like a fat little ghost, giving itself a hug.
Fragrant, silky wonton soup
For the wonton soup broth I used the leftover mushroom soaking liquid, along with vegetable stock and the aromatic flavourings of soy sauce, ginger, garlic, star anise and lemongrass. A dribble of sesame oil and chilli oil finished it off to perfection.
With an ingredient list like this there was no way these wontons were ever going to be anything other than delicious.
But I have to say, I was blown away by the fresh tasting wonton filling against the richness of flavour in this broth, and delighted by the way the loose flour on the wonton wrappers ever so slightly thickened the broth into a slightly viscous soup with a silky mouthfeel. So damn good.
This wonton soup is easy, delicious and healthy. Give it a go next time you’re feeling inspired to try something different in the kitchen.
This recipe makes 25 wontons, which should be enough to serve wonton soup for four people – especially as part of a meal. But… they’re incredibly moreish and you may just find yourself eating far more than you anticipated. You have been warned!
25 wonton wrappers is about half a pack. I froze the rest of mine to use another time (thaw at room temperature). Or you could double the filling recipe to make a large batch of wontons to feed a crowd, or freeze filled dumplings for a quick and easy weeknight meal.
If you’re vegan or allergic to eggs, check the label carefully. About half of the wonton wrapper brands I checked had egg, and the other half were vegan. All of them had wheat flour as an ingredient so they’re not ideal if you’re gluten free. Check out recipes here, here and here if you’d like to try making your own gluten free wrappers.
Tofu and shiitake wonton soup
For the wontons:
- 25 wonton wrappers
- 1/2 cup dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in 1 cup of boiling water for half an hour, approximately 10g
- One pack of firm tofu, (approximately 275g)
- 1/4 cup coriander, finely chopped (leaves, stalks and roots), cilantro
- 1/4 cup garlic chives, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp soy sauce, or tamari
- 1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, finely grated
For the soup:
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp soy sauce, or tamari
- 3 slices fresh ginger root
- 3 whole star anise
- 1 clove garlic, thickly sliced
- 1 fresh lemongrass stalk/bulb, sliced
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1/2-1 tsp chilli oil
- 1 spring onion, (scallion) finely sliced
For the wontons:
- Dry excess moisture from the tofu with kitchen towels, then add to a mixing bowl and mash with a fork until a mince-like texture.
- Reserving the soaking liquid, drain and squeeze excess moisture from the shiitake mushrooms. Finely chop and add to the mixing bowl. You can start the soup now so that it's cooking while you continue making the wontons.
- To continue with the wontons, add finely chopped coriander (cilantro) and garlic chives, grated ginger and soy sauce.
- Mix well.
- Lay out the wonton wrappers and put about a tablespoonful of filling mixture in the middle of each one.
- Using a pastry brush, or your finger, wet one half of the exposed wrapper and fold on the diagonal to seal well. Carefully squeeze around the filling to ease out any air bubbles. Join bottom corners by wetting one and sticking together.
- Set aside until ready to cook. They can stay on the bench if you're cooking now, otherwise cover and refrigerate for a few hours, or freeze to use at a later date.
For the soup:
- Put 4 cups of vegetable stock in a large saucepan, along with the reserved mushroom soaking liquid, an additional cup of water, and the soy sauce, ginger, garlic, star anise and lemon grass.
- Bring to a low simmer and let the flavours infuse for about half an hour.
- When you're ready to cook the wontons and serve, strain the broth through a fine sieve and discard the ginger, star anise and lemongrass.
- Return the broth to the saucepan and add sesame oil and chilli oil (less if you don't like spicy food, or more if you love it).
- Bring to a medium heat - more than simmering but not a rolling boil. Add wontons in batches and cook for three minutes. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to remove wontons to serving bowls and repeat to cook the rest.
- Once wontons are all cooked, pour broth evenly over wontons in each bowl. Garnish with spring onions and eat immediately.