I’ve always loved wontons and Chinese dumplings, but I thought they were really difficult to make. Then I made them for this soup, and I discovered something about myself. I LOVE making wontons! They tasted just like authentic Chinese wontons, except I used a small amount of minced habanero pepper (I know, shocker!), so they had a little kick. The broth was silky and flavored with a wonderful shitake mushroom umami, perfectly balancing the heat.
The trick to getting the wontons to cook without falling apart is to have the broth just beyond a simmer, but not quite a boil so the wontons ‘dance’ in the broth as they cook.
For the broth:
4 cloves garlic, sliced in half
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into thirds
6 cups water
2 cups hot water
2 ounces of dried shitake mushrooms
1-ounce fresh shitake mushroom stems
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon chicken bullion
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
For the soup:
8 ounces of fresh shitake mushroom caps, thinly sliced
1 cup sugar snap peas
1/2 cup green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup baby carrots, thinly sliced
1/2 cup bamboo sliced shoots
For the wontons:
1 package wonton wrappers
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 small yellow onion, minced
1 fresh white habanero pepper, seeded and minced
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 cup cooked chicken, finely chopped
1) Pour the hot water into a glass bowl and add the dried shitake mushrooms. Press the mushrooms into the water so they no longer float on top. Set the bowl aside and allow the mushrooms to steep for 1 hour.
2) In a small sauté pan, heat the sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add the minced garlic, minced onion, minced ginger and minced habanero. Sauté 3 minutes until flavors are released. Transfer the vegetables to a mixing bowl and set aside.
3) Remove the reconstituted mushrooms from the liquid and pour all but the bottom silt from the bowl into a soup pot. Discard the silt.
4) Add the reconstituted mushrooms, shitake stems, water, chicken bouillon, sliced garlic, sliced ginger, vinegar, salt and pepper to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the broth for 30 minutes.
5) Strain the stock into a large bowl and discard the solids. Return the strained broth to the pot.
6) Add the chicken and the egg to the mixing bowl with the cooked vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Stir the mixture until all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.
7) Open the wonton package and lay a damp paper towel over them. Remove two wrappers and place them on a flat surface. Cover the remaining wrappers with the damp towel to keep them from drying out as you use them.
8) Spoon about 1 teaspoon of the chicken mixture into the center of each wonton wrapper. Moisten the edges with a small amount of water on your fingertip and then gather the edges of the wrapper up forming a pouch. Repeat this step until you’ve used up all of the filling.
9) Increase the heat slightly on the broth until it’s just above a simmer, but not quite boiling.
10) Add the wontons to the broth and simmer for 10 minutes.
11) Next add the fresh shitakes, carrots, sugar snap peas, and bamboo shoots. Simmer the soup for 10 minutes.
12) To serve, distribute the soup and dumplings into soup bowls. Garnish with the sliced green onions.