Some are shaped like little sacks and others like turnovers. There are people who prefer them crunchy and others who want them fluffy or steamed. The truth is, dumplings or wontons are a popular specialty in Chinese food that you’ll love in all their versions.
What Does Wonton Mean?
In Cantonese, wonton means “swallowing clouds” and that’s because both their appearance and consistency remind us of clouds floating in the skies. That’s precisely the image that comes to mind when we see dumplings floating on a soup, scattered on a bamboo basket or held by a pair of chopsticks.
Their history dates back to the year 225 A.D. from an era known as the Three Kingdoms. Since then there have been several types of dumplings with varied fillings that include meat, steamed vegetables or sweet beans paste. In order for you to learn how to order them in your next trip to China, DINKtravelers offers you these tips.
(Gow Gees in Cantonese) They’re crescent moon-shaped dumplings with creased edges and veggie fillings, although they can also contain shrimp. The dough is a bit thicker than the one used in traditional wontons and it’s prepared with a mixture of flour and water that is then boiled or steamed.
These dumplings are first fried and then steamed. Usually they’re served with the fried side facing up.
It’s traditional to fill them with shrimp and bamboo shoots, and they’re known for their wheat starch crust, which has a soft and shiny texture that’s practically translucent.
They’re steamed and they have a mild taste. Likewise, they’re shaped like baskets and the filling, which usually consists on pork meat or shrimp, pops out on top.
Lastly, you must know that typically, Cantonese wontons are wrapped in yellow dough while dumplings from Shanghai usually has a thicker and white wrap. In both cases, dip them in soy sauce with fresh grated ginger, garlic and/or vinegar.
It’s probable that in your travels to China you also try dumplings that have an egg wrap. That’s another popular variety. And it’s also possible that you find one prepared with glutinous rice flour with sweet sesame filling.
Chinese New Year Dumplings
Wontons can be found all year long and you can have them for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and as an entrée or main dish. However, we recommend planning your vacation close to the Chinese New Year, especially if you travel to northern China. There they have the tradition of putting a coin inside one of the dumplings, and if you get it, it means that you’ll have a very prosperous year.
Discover these little bundles of joy and plan a gourmet journey with DINKtravelers.