Won Ton soup has always been a staple in my family, since I was a kid. I started cooking when I was 6 and by the time I was 9, my obsession with Ken Hom was at an all time high... watching him religiously on BBC1 every week creating mouthwatering Chinese dishes may explain where my love of Chinese food came from. If you watch enough cookery on TV, eventually you learn recipes and gain the confidence to try to recreate them in your kitchen and this combined with regular trips to Chinese restaurants was how I started cooking Chinese food at home.
Aged just 8, I would cook full meals for my Grandmother and all her glamorous friends making beef stir fries with noodles, sweet and sour chicken (aided by the revolutionary new 80's trend of ready made sauces in jars) and Won Ton soup. I try hard to think how I started making Won Ton soup and perhaps if someone had taught me; but I don't ever remember learning any cookery from anyone during my childhood/teens but I did live near an oriental supermarket and having Won Ton skins readily available back in the 80's was a rarity and did make experimenting much easier and more accessible than for most.
Over the years, I have improved the recipe and flavour greatly and feel I have now perfected it to a standard that would give most Chinese restaurants a run for their money and even better, my cooking is MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) free! So no unpleasant flavour or side effects, just healthy and delicious cooking.
Won Ton Soup
Won Ton skins (available from all Oriental/Southeast Asian supermarkets)
150g of raw, peeled tiger prawns
150g of minced pork
1 litre 500g fresh chicken stock (Waitrose do a great one)
5-6 tablespoons of Kikkomans soy sauce (you can use normal dark soy sauce here)
1 litre of water
6 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 head of Chinese cabbage, cut roughly into 3 inch strips
1 lemongrass stalk, bashed to allow for flavour release
8 inches of ginger
2 large free range eggs
Maldon sea salt
**Food Processor & pastry brush**
Preheat a large deep cooking pot over a medium heat. Take 4 inches of ginger and peel it and slice into centimetre thick discs and add to your dry pan along with the bashed lemongrasses and allow the heat to bring out the flavours of them for about 5 minutes before adding your chicken stock, water and also your soy sauce and allow to cook gently over a low-medium heat. (The liquid should not boil/bubble at any stage)
Add your prawns, pork mince and egg yolk into the food processor and grate the remaining 4 inches of ginger into the processor also along with a few pinches of Maldon sea salt and place the lid on the processor and blitz the mixture well until the prawns are minced and the whole mixture resembles minced meat.
Beat the remaining eggs and brush your Won Ton pastry skins all over with beaten egg (just enough to ensure it gets sticky, but not that it becomes too wet) and scoop a heaped teaspoon of your pork and prawn mixure into the centre and starting with a corner, make clockwise folds (or anti-clockwise folds, if you're a lefty) inwards, slowly sealing in and gathering the edges of your pastry and once you've reached the end, pinch the corners together ensuring they are nicely sealed and no meat is exposed. There is no particular method in doing this, just do it as best as you can and adopting a technique that is easy for you making sure no meat is exposed and the won tons are properly sealed. Repeat the process until all your won tons are done. If making these in advance, I would refrigerate them now for a couple of hours BUT if you don't have the luxury of time, I would lay them out on a plate and give them a quick blast in the freezer for 10 minutes (this will prevent them for falling apart in the stock and they will keep their shape nicely whilst they cook)
The soup is about 15-20 minutes from being ready so using a slotted spoon, remove your thick discs of ginger and also your lemongrass stalk. Turn the temperature of the pan up a little to generate a rolling boil (medium high for electric hob users) and add in your chopped cabbage, spring onions and all your dumplings. Cook for 15 minutes or so until the cabbage has softened and the Won Tons are soft and cooked through. Chefs perk to try one at this point and ensure they are cooked properly... and serve! Truly delicious and definitely a light but warming dish perfect for Winter and perfect for those wanting to eat healthily.