Once, on a cold July night, the thought of wonton soup was enough to make the hungry mortgager wanton and weak-willed enough to stop by at a noodle shop on the way home from work. After perusing a laminated menu decorated with spelling mistakes such as ‘pettitoes’ and ‘vagetables’, the mortgager ordered the much-anticipated wontons and parted with their precious $9.50. Fifteen minutes later, they were confronted by this:
The moral of the story: when compared to home-made wontons, noodle-shop wantons will always be wanting.
A bowl of home-made wontons*, like the one above, will cost around $3.89 per serve:
$2 for 286 g pork mince
$5.65 for 300g raw prawns
$0.97 for a small piece of ginger
$2.30 for wonton skins
$0.99 for a bunch of spring onions
$0.51 for an egg
$1.03 for 5 servings of dried noodles
$1 for a bunch of coriander
$2 for chicken frames to make 2 litres of chicken stock
$3 for small amounts of common pantry items such as soy sauce, sugar, white pepper, sesame oil, shaoxing rice wine, Chinese black vinegar, chillies, and salt.
$19.45 for 5 servings of long and short soup
The key to making wontons at home is quantity. They’re fiddly things but they freeze well, so always make more than what’s specified in a recipe.
My 40 wontons took 30-40 minutes to prepare, while the chicken stock required 3 hours. Peeling and deveining the prawns was by far the worst part of the process. It’s possible to buy already peeled and deveined prawns, but it will cost more; after all, ‘pre-made is pre-paid’ according to Domain’s Carolyn Boyd. If handling slimy banana prawns is an issue, I’d suggest substituting with canned crab or prawn meat.
For those who don’t use much spring onion, white pepper, and Chinese black vinegar in their cooking, substitute with other ingredients such as brown onion, white vinegar, and black pepper. Don’t worry about being inauthentic. My thrifty Vietnamese mother makes wontons with finely chopped brown onions all the time.
My home-made wontons live in the freezer now. Ready to go, they’ll be a cheap, quick meal for whenever I am wanton for wontons.
24 years and 9 months to go,
*I used Les Huynh’s Takeaway recipe for long and short noodle soup.