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Easy-to-Make Collard Wontons + Giveaway

by Kristina Gill

Today we are sharing another recipe to bring warmth to those of you who are facing the freezing temperatures sweeping the United States. It comes from the book A Common Table: 80 Recipes and Stories from My Shared Cultures by Cynthia Chen McTernan, author of the blog Two Red Bowls. Cynthia’s recipes marry her own cultures’ cuisines — Southern and Chinese — with her mother-in-law’s Korean cuisine. The end result is a fabulous cookbook with recipes like this week’s Collard Wontons. Cynthia uses store-bought wonton wrappers to make relatively quick work of preparing an entire batch. They also freeze well, which makes it worthwhile to do the full batch even if you aren’t eating them all in one meal. It’s always nice to find such treats in the freezer! —Kristina

About Cynthia: Cynthia Chen McTernan is a lawyer and the self-taught home cook and photographer behind Two Red Bowls, winner of the 2015 Saveur Blog Award for Most Delicious Food. She has been featured in Food & Wine, Saveur, Better Homes and Gardens, Good Housekeeping, and Huffington Post, and has collaborated with West Elm, Crate & Barrel, King Arthur Flour, Food52, Urban Outfitters, and more. Cynthia graduated from Harvard Law School in 2013, and currently practices law in Los Angeles — when she’s not cooking. She lives with her husband, the patient taste-tester and the original owner of the two red bowls, and their baby, Luke. You can find Cynthia (@tworedbowls) on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

For a chance to win a copy of A Common Table, respond in the comments section below by February 14, 5PM EST to the following question: Which combination of cuisines would you really like to taste? Maybe you’ve already combined them to make your own favorite dishes? Share it with us! We will announce the winner in the comments section, so be sure to check back!

Image above: A Common Table: 80 Recipes and Stories from My Shared Cultures. All photography by Cynthia Chen McTernan.

Image above: Cynthia Chen McTernan

Image above: Filling the wontons

Image above: Folding the wontons

Image above: Serving the wontons

Collard Wontons

Yields 70 to 80 wontons, or enough for 4 to 6

In our house, making wontons began late in the afternoon. My mother started it off by making the filling—squeezing the moisture from greens, chopping them with her heavy, Chinese-style cleaver, and stirring them together with ground pork, garlic, ginger, and various fragrant condiments. Next, the bowl landed on our kitchen table, where my father waited, cross-legged. Peeling the wonton wrappers off a block, he laid neat dollops of filling on them one by one, then tossed them flat on the table in front of him. Once he’d amassed a long row he’d pick them up and fold them into plump little bundles before lining them up in neat spirals on platters that were returned to my mother to be simmered in broth.

When I think back on wonton nights, I hear the light pitter-patter of wonton wrappers hitting the table and see my dad’s impossibly quick, origami-like folding, producing beautifully uniform wontons with their little chests puffed up proud and boisterous, as though they knew how well they were made. When my parents had Shanghainese friends over, they’d join the process as though they’d been there the entire time, filling and folding the wontons seamlessly the way my dad always had—I was startled the first time I saw it, surprised that anyone else knew what I’d thought were our own wonton family secrets, but food, as I’ve learned over and over, is a language you don’t need to grow up speaking together to understand.

My mother typically uses a pungent, fragrant Chinese vegetable called shepherd’s purse, or ji cai, but since this is hard to come by even in some Asian supermarkets, I’ve swapped in an unlikely but worthy substitute native to my childhood home—collard greens. Surprisingly, collards add just the right bite to the wontons, mimicking the slight spicy kick of shepherd’s purse so closely that I might not know the difference if I hadn’t made it myself. If you can’t find either of these, though, any hardy leafy green will do (kale, Swiss chard, or cabbage all work).

Ingredients

  • For the Wontons
  • 1⁄2 pound collard greens, roughly chopped
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1⁄4 cup thinly sliced scallions (2 to 3 scallions)
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger root
  • 3 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine, dry sherry, or sake
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 70 to 80 wonton wrappers (15 to 16 ounces, or about 1 1⁄3 packages; keep unused wrappers covered in plastic wrap, sealed in a Ziploc bag, and frozen for later use)
  • For the Broth
  • 
4 cups water

  • 4 cups chicken broth

  • 1 to 2 teaspoons soy sauce, for serving

  • 1⁄2 teaspoon sesame oil, for serving

  • 1⁄4 cup thinly sliced scallions (2 to 3 scallions), for serving

Preparation

1

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the greens and reduce the heat to medium. Simmer until the greens are bright green and beginning to turn tender, but still have some bite, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and add to a food processor. Pulse until finely shredded.

In a large bowl, combine the greens, pork, scallions, ginger, rice wine, sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar (if using), salt, and white pepper. Using chopsticks or a wooden spoon, stir vigorously until all ingredients are well combined and the filling forms a thick paste.

Prepare a small bowl of water for sealing the wrappers. For each wrapper, place 1 teaspoon of filling in the center. Dab a bit of water on one edge and fold the wrapper in half, taking care to seal the wrapper well around the filling. Dab water on one corner of the folded seam and bring the two folded corners together to form a small bundle (see image above). Place on a tray and repeat. You should end up with 70 to 80 wontons. To save them for later, freeze on the tray, then place in a Ziploc bag. They’ll keep in the freezer for up to 6 months.

When you’re ready to cook the wontons, in a large pot, bring the water and chicken broth to a boil. Add about 20 wontons, stirring gently to ensure they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Cook until the water comes back to a boil and the wontons float to the surface, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the wontons to plate. Repeat with the remaining wontons until they’re all cooked, or freeze a portion of the uncooked wontons for later. To cook from frozen, use the same method, but boil for 4 to 6 minutes, until the wontons float.

To serve, divide the wontons among several small bowls and ladle a bit of the cooking broth over each bowl. Drizzle lightly with soy sauce and a few drops of sesame oil, and top with scallions. Enjoy immediately.

Recipe from A Common Table: 80 Recipes and Stories from My Shared Cultures © 2018 by Penguin Random House LLC. Published by Rodale Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

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Comments

  • Ever since watching an episode of Ugly Delicious in which they compared Southern Cajun food and Vietnamese food, I have wanted to try a mash up…maybe Spicy Crawfish Pho!?!

  • I’m a fan of Two Red Bowls and Santa seriously disappointed me when he didn’t bring me this cookbook! As for food combinations, I love Japanese-style Korean, Italian and Chinese food, but really want to try Indian-style Chinese food again! Peruvian-Japanese food is also on my list of things to eat. I don’t have any specific dishes because I just want to eat EVERYTHING.

  • i love spicing up italian recipes with Indian spices &cooking techniques..Being a lover of spice, it adds so much oomph and depth to suit my palate..and the cheese is such a good balance for spice…

  • Southern US and Indian. County Captain (which is kind of a British-style curry) is the precedent for this, but I would love to see a whole cookbook mixing up these two cuisines and exploring the ways in which they’re similar.

  • A Mexican and Indian food combination would be awesome. The sauce both culture bring to the table are amzing!!!
    I wonder how amazing this combination would be>

  • I’d love to try Vitnamese and Peruvian mixed, they have many similarities, but their own particularities, it would be super interesting.

  • We have a lot of “mixed” plate food in my hometown. Pastas seem to lend themselves to great combos. I really like Japanese/Italian! But then I’m usually the only one at the table eating fermented soy beans or cod roe on my spaghetti. :-D

  • Omg this looks so good. And pretty easy to substitute for vegetarian :) I’m ready to make these this weekend!

  • Because my husband is Chinese and I am Korean, we love mixing Korean and Chinese cuisines together! We love eating Taiwanese pickled bamboo shoots as a part of our side dish spread (which includes kimchi, of course), with Korean barbeque (galbi)!

  • This cookbook looks amazing! I want to try all the recipes. Its my goal to have an amazing again inspired meal every year for New years Eve. As far as combinations – Indian and Mexican would be interesting. Some yellow dhal with pico and tortillas?

  • I would love to try fusing Indian with Thai cuisine, I love spicy food and I tend to be torn between heavy savory foods like Somosas and Chicken Tikka Masala and fresh and tangy foods like Spicy Beef Salad and Shrimp Tom Yum.

  • Texan/Southern & Indian (a combo of my lifestyles). An Indian restaurant in Houston used to do Masala Fried Chicken every few Sundays. It would sell out so quickly. I made turmeric biscuits once. It was so good! I used ghee :)

  • I would have to say Thai and Vietnamese! Some of the dishes are similar and I love them both, separately or in a mashup!

  • oh man, I love two red bowls, particularly the baking recipes!
    i love texas-italian cooking–think habanero tortellini!

  • That bowl reminds me of Pancit Molo–our wonton soup in my province in the Visayas, Philippines, influenced by Chinese migrants! Would love a mix of Filipino cuisine mixed with Italian cooking! That might be a bit strange but interesting!

  • As a vegan I am always customizing recipes to fit my lifestyle. I plan to spend Superbowl Sunday making these collars wontons using seitan and veg broth in place of the pork and chicken broth. I would love to see some suggestions on combining Mediterranean and Eastern Indian flavors. As a cookbook collector I would be tickled to add this new book to my shelf.

  • I love the southern US / Korean combo — my husband and I hail from both places and it’s so fun (and delicious) to discover where our two cuisines naturally intersect. Cooking Cynthia’s dishes make me so happy to uncover new ways for them to complement each other : )

  • No one ever wants to mess with French cooking …. but there are many dishes that can be adapted. For instance, the traditional coq au vin substituting wine for sake, use Asian herbs instead of thyme.

  • Portuguese and Indian! One of my most cherished memories is of a magical weekend day with friends when I was working in Brazil. A dear friend, originally from Portugal, had a tiny charming home right in the center of the city. Another friend had just inherited her mother’s notebook of handwritten recipes, as her mother had recently and unexpectedly passed. To honor her, we went to the biggest food market in Brazil and bought tons of ingredients to make up the recipes, then, back in the kitchen, Maria helped, but couldn’t resist giving some Portuguese twists. Not every dish was a success – finishing salt accidentally added too early and heavily made our saag taste like metal, for example – but the roti was perfection and we had a blast! Brazilian ingredients, Indian and Portuguese dishes, and other guests from Italy, Canada, Northern Brazil and me from NYC made for a really lovely potpourri, and helped the dishes taste extra delicious.

  • I think I finally figured out what I am missing in my life. Suprisingly, I suspect it might be these collard wontons you so wonderfully wrote about in this article. Thank you so much for this great recipe, it’s time to visit the kitchen :)

  • My husband is German, and I’m Taiwanese so German-Taiwanese! Roast pork schnitzel perhaps? Or passion fruit and apfel kuchen. ;-) After reading this post, I went to the Two Red Bowls page, and loved it. Heartfelt words, beautiful pictures, and what a wonderful family. Congrats on the lovely cookbook!

  • I love Asian and Mexican food. So it seems logical to combine them -especially in a spicy dish. I don’t know how to do that , but I’m willing to learn! I work at a library, so if I don’t win this book, I hope we get it in so I can check it out. Thanks for sharing!

  • A combination cuisine I’d love to taste is Caribbean-Chinese. Given the long history of Chinese migrant workers in the Caribbean and Latin America, I think the combined styles learned over time would be really interesting. I recently heard about Trinidad-Chinese restaurants in NYC and am very excited to try it sometime. As for me, I love to cook and experiment with whatever I have in the pantry, and I recently made a risotto dish with arborio rice, Chinese sausage, butter/onion, and shiitake mushrooms. I finished off with Shaoxing cooking wine and grated Parmigiano Reggiano over it. It was a big hit when I brought it to a party.

    Thanks for sharing the recipe above!

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