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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).


  • 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



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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