Sep 15, 2017

Not so Devilish but Still Comes with a Kick - Red Oil Wontons (紅油抄手)

Can't even remember when was the last time when I worked with these Chinese wrappers, perhaps a year ago? It's been too long and my rusty wrapping skill is visibly shown in these images. Luckily, a good seal is more important than its appearance based on how I fold the wontons. The wrappers are so thin, once boiled, little flaws here and there can be easily overlooked. 

The true or more so authentic Sichuan style red oil wontons come with much more devilish color compare to the ones I have here. The spiciness and oil used were toned down a bit, to suit the taste of Mister at home. However, customize the sauce based on preference can be an easy task. A tap of chili sauce, perhaps more black vinegar, maybe freshly grind Sichuan peppercorn or some peanuts, you can play around the combinations freely. 

So the post here is mostly for the wonton itself. How to wrap the wontons, and the basic ingredients for the red oil sauce. Once you have grasped the basic ideas, go wild and make your own version of Chinese wontons.

Red oil wontons 紅油抄手 -

Ingredients (makes about 30 to 32 wontons)?

For the fillings:

  • 1 lb ground pork (avoid lean meat)
  • 1 stalk scallion
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped or grated young ginger
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons black vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorn oil
  • 1 teaspoon homemade chili sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

Some suggestions for the toppings and sides:

  • Some chopped scallion (optional)
  • Some dried seaweed threads (optional)
  • Some dried and crushed peanuts (optional)
  • Some Chinese cabbage (optional)


The way I wrapped these wontons can hold up more fillings and doesn't require skillful artist's hands to do so. There is one other popular way of making wontons - the triangular method. The wrapper is folded into a triangle first, which looks prettier but doesn't hold as much fillings. Also for the triangular method, it's safer to wrap the wontons nicely, because its shape generally stayed the same once boiled. That means if you made a crooked wonton, you will end up with not so eye-pleasing wonton in the end.

Those being said, for beginners, just follow my lead and fold the wontons using the "rectangular" way. Better safe then sorry.

Start with the fillings first. Destem and finely chop the scallion. Mix the scallion along with ground pork, grated young ginger, salt, and a little bit of chicken stock at a time. Similar to massaging the meat, the chicken stock will get absorbed by the pork during the process, which helps moisturized the filling. Add more chicken stock and keep mixing, and use more chicken stock if needed. Cover the mixture with cling foil and let it rest in the fridge for few hours up to overnight.

Make sure to use the wonton wrappers and not the dumpling wrappers. Wonton wrappers are very thin compared to dumplings, they cook faster too. 

Spoon some filling to the center and tap half side of the wrapper edges with water. It's ok to start out with just a tiny spoonful of the pork mixture. You can be greedier and use more filling once you get a hang of the wrapping work.

Fold the wrapper to form a rectangular shape. Tightly seal the edges, the water will help binding the wrapper together. Use more water or press harder to help with the sealing.

Bring the two bottom corners together, perhaps with a tap of water to help sealing them together. The wonton should somewhat look like a hat at this moment.

Keep repeating the steps till all the fillings are gone. I did get greedy and start using more fillings after some trials and errors. In the end, I got about 32 wontons. However, if using the triangular way, since it can't hold up as much fillings, you should be getting about 40 to 45 wontons for the same amount of fillings.

Bring a big pot of water to a boil and drop the wontons into the water one by one. 

While the wontons are cooking, mix all the sauce ingredients and make sure the sugar has been fully dissolved. Taste and adjust per your preference. Scoop some sauce to the serving bowls first.

The wontons are ready when they float. Drain and transfer to serving bowls. I've also blanched some Chinese cabbage and add to the bottom of the bowls.

Drizzle more sauce over the wontons, garnish with chopped scallion or other preferred toppings.

The fillings are not too salty since the highlight also lies on the sauce. If you are not afraid of heavy tasting sauce, be brave and just go for the chili sauce, vinegar, Sichuan peppercorn, and even the granulated sugar. Even though adding more sugar to savory dishes might not be the norm, but it will truly enhance the flavors for other seasonings. In fact, my dad would use at least double the amount of sugar, chili sauce, and some freshly ground Sichuan peppercorn if he were the one making the sauce.

These wontons can also be made ahead and store in the freezer. Remember to dust the storing container or plate with flour before putting the wontons on top. Also dust some more flour on the wontons to prevent sticking.  

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