In Shanghai, xiao hun tun, also known as “little” wonton soup, is popular for breakfast and afternoon snacks. This Shanghai Wonton Soup is unfamiliar to most of you because it is only widely available in Shanghai and its surrounding areas.
Childhood In Shenzhen
A bowl of Shanghai wonton soup was a special treat for me whenever I was a kid. Only a few simple ingredients are required, so I wonder why my grandmother never made them.
The fact that it was widely available in dining establishments is the only plausible explanation. However, the catch was that WE NEVER ATE OUT. Whenever I had a few pennies in my piggy bank as a kid, my brother and I would sneak out of the house and get a bowl.
What Makes Shanghai Wonton Soup Unique?
The wrappers and stock in this Shanghai version of wonton soup set it apart from others.
The packaging is as feathery and smooth as a cloud. It only takes a few moments to prepare. It’s best to avoid overcooking the skin and undercooking the pork filling by not stuffing these little wontons too much.
Then there’s the stock, which, as I recall, was always simmering away in a massive pot at all wonton restaurants and Shanghai street food vendors. The stock pot would be at least 2 ft. in diameter and 3 ft. in height, full of chicken and pork bones and simmering over a constant flame.
You can see why I was destined to be a foodie: nearly all of my earliest recollections involve eating.
Shanghai’s “little” wonton soup hasn’t been as popular as it once was. More and more shops run by migrant workers are opening every day, selling variants that include, among other things, thinly fried egg skin, dried shrimp flakes, and seaweed. These variants are quite tasty, but they need to be more authentic.
In addition, local shopkeepers and street food vendors are getting to the age where they can finally retire, and their younger successors have yet to be interested in picking up where they left off.
Thus, obtaining a satisfying bowl of Shanghai wonton soup has become exceedingly difficult. Despite spending an entire month in Shanghai with Kaitlin, we could not locate a bowl that satisfied my taste or matched the one from my youth.
I remade the basic version, without any extra features, today. This recipe has three steps: making the stock, stuffing the wontons with pork, and serving them.
Because these can be prepared in advance and stored in the freezer, you should make a large batch to last you throughout the upcoming autumn months (remember not to overcrowd them as they are quite delicate).
PREPARING THE STOCK:
- 1½ lb. of chicken bones(680g)
- 1½ lb. of pork bones (680g)
- 9 cups of water (2 liters)
- 2 slices of ginger
- Salt (to taste)
FOR THE PORK FILLING:
- 1/2 lb. of ground pork(225g)
- 1/4 tsp. of salt
- 2 tsp. of shaoxing wine
- 2 tsp. of light soy sauce
- 1/4 tsp. of ground white pepper
- 1½ tbsp. of water
- 1/4 tsp. of sugar
- 1 tsp. of sesame oil
- 1 slice of finely minced ginger
MAKING & COOKING THE WONTONS:
- 1/2 pack of thin wonton wrappers double the filling to finish the whole pack
- few drops of sesame oil in each bowl
- pinch of ground white pepper in each bowl
- Chopped scallion (about ½ a scallion per bowl is plenty)
MAKING THE STOCK:
- Bring everything to a boil in a soup pot and skim off any foam or other debris that rises to the top. Simmer on your stove’s lowest setting for at least three to four hours. The stock is clear and flavorful after a slow simmer. Towards the end of the stock’s cooking time, season it with salt to taste. This stock’s clean, savory flavor makes it versatile enough to use in various preparations.
TO MAKE THE PORK FILLING:
- Instead of using a blender, you should do this by hand to get some exercise for your arms.
PREPARING THE WONTON:
- Fold in half and squeeze gently around the filling’s perimeter.
- If you made the stock ahead of time and it has cooled, heat it back up. Water for boiling the wontons should be boiled in a separate pan. Season each serving bowl with ground white pepper and a drizzle of sesame oil to pass the time.
- Add the wontons to the boiling water and stir them around. Once the wontons rise to the surface, they are ready to be eaten. Scoop the wontons with a slotted spoon and drop them into the soup.
- Sprinkle the chopped scallions on top and serve with the stock.