Wonton: Beef & Chinese 5 spice

Five Spice Beef Wonton Filling – makes about 50 wontons

” T ” is my abbreviation for tablespoon.

1 teaspoon      freshly ground blk pepper

1 T      5 spice powder (from Gewurzhaus http://www.gewurzhaus.com.au)

pinch of salt

2 T  light soy sauce

1.5 T  dark soy sauce

1 T  Shao xing wine

1 T  oyster sauce

¼ cup spring onions (2 stalks) green and white parts, coarsely chopped

1 T  Vietnamese mint, chopped finely

1 T   mint leaves, chopped finely

1 T  Perilla, chopped finely

1 heaping cup jicama  peeled, cut into little cubes (don’t use food processor as that turns the jicama into mush)

2 teaspoons ginger  peeled, finely minced

2 teaspoons  garlic, finely minced

500 grams organic beef mince (Aldi’s)

You will need about 80 Wonton wrappers – 1 kilo pack has about 130 wrappers (” Gold Star ” brand)

In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients in the order in which they are listed, adding the beef last.  Blend gently with your hand, fingers apart (like your hand is a claw) and blend only in one direction (so that you do not break the meat fibres.  Don’t squish the filling with your hands.

Transfer the filling into 4 or so smaller bowls and cover.   Chill the filling in the refrigerator for about  an hour.   Remove only one bowl at a time when you are ready to wrap the filling using the wonton wrappers.

If you are not cooking them right away, store them in the freezer for up to 2 months.   To do so,  place the made wonton so that are not touching each other on a tray that has been sprinkled with cornflour/corn starch.  Place the tray into the freezer. When the wonton have hardened, place them into freezer bags and seal well.  They do not need to be thawed out – just pop them straight into a pot of boiling water.

To cook either fresh or frozen wonton- bring a pot of water to boil. There should be enough water so that the wonton can float about.  When the water boils, drop in your wonton.  They will start to float to the top of the water’s edge and then resume boiling.  At this stage, lower the flame so that the water is at a gentle boil (not a raging boil).  If wonton were freshly made, you can remove them from the boiling water after a couple of minutes.  If the wonton were frozen,  give them an extra minutes.

Use a slotted or mesh spoon to lift them out of the water and into a bowl.  Add a little of the boiling water to the bowl to keep the wonton from sticking.   For each serving, 8 -10 is a meal, 4 to 6 is entree/starter size.

To serve in soup:  heat up some soup stock and add to each bowl in which you have already placed the wonton and some blanched vegetables.  Vegetables such as Napa cabbage cut into chunks or string beans are good.

To serve on a platter (without soup):  place sprigs of coriander on the platter and place the wonton on top.  Sprinkle with snow peas that you have julienned (narrow strips) and blanched for about 30 seconds in boiling water.  Then add a sprinkle of black sesame seeds, a few drops of chili oil and some Sichuan pepper corns (crushed and lightly dry roasted in a pan).

Recipe: Wonton Filling: Pork & Lemongrass

Recipe: Pork & Lemongrass wonton filling


  • 1 kilo pork mince

  • 1/2 cup jicama, finely diced by hand * (or 1/2 cup chopped water chestnuts, fresh or canned)

  • 1 tablespoon of  dried Lemongrass from Gewurzhaus (or 2 stalks finely mince the white part only)

  • 1 1/4 tsp of Gewurzhaus chili salt (or 1 tsp of salt +  1/4 tsp of dried red pepper flakes )

  • 3 cloves garlic – smashed and chopped

  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil

  • 1/2 tsp of freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 tsp light brown sugar

  • 3 tablespoons of fish sauce

  • 2 tsp soy sauce

  • 2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice

  • (add this last) 1 heaping tablespoon of corn flour (also known as cornstarch)


1 Combine all of the seasonings and blend with chopsticks or spatula or wooden spoon, or blend by hand.

2. Add pork mince and jicama and blend by hand, in one direction only.  Scoop the mixture with your hands so that you are blending but not ‘squishing’ it all together.  Do this gently until the mince and jicama have blended in with the seasonings.   (Blending in one direction prevents the meat from becoming ‘mashed’; the filling needs to retain texture).  Sprinkle the corn flour into the mixture and continue to blend by hand until the corn flour is absorbed.

3. Transfer to 4 or so smaller bowls, cover and refrigerate for an hour.  Take out one bowl at a time as you wrap the wonton.

4. To cook the wonton bring a pot of water to boil.  There should be enough water so that the wonton can float about.  Drop the wonton into the boiling water and partially cover the pot.   When the wonton as risen to the surface, give them another 2 minutes and then drain.

Serving suggestions

Wonton & Soup:   for a meal,   7-10 wonton per serving;  place drained wonton into individual soup bowls or one large bowl.  Immediately, add soup stock (Chicken stock or use miso paste to make a soup) and vegetables such as bok choy, snow peas, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, shiitake or enoki mushrooms.   Optional:  slices of lemon and fresh minced chili on the side.

Wonton with chili:    as a shared platter, place about 4 wonton per person on a large platter. When you spoon the wonton onto the platter, include  a little bit of the water in which the wonton were boiled as this will prevent the wonton from sticking to the plate.   Sprinkle with Sichuan pepper and drizzle with chili oil.  Add slivers of snow peas (1 per every 4 wonton – cut into lengthwise thin slivers and blanch for 30 seconds, drain) and garnish with sprigs of coriander.

To freeze the wonton

Sprinkle corn flour on to a tray or plate.  Place the finished wonton on the tray or plate so they are not touching and place into the freezer – do not cover.   When they have frozen hard, remove form the plate/tray and place into freezer bags or boxes.    These can be stored for up to 3 months.  To cook frozen wonton,  they can go straight from the freezer to the boiling pot.  When they have risen to the surface, give them another 3 minutes and drain.

* Jicama – refers to the crunchy root of this plant.  It is best to chop it finely by hand as it is to add texture and ‘crunch’ to the wonton.  Do not mince it using a food processor as this will turn it into an undesirable mushy mass.  I add it to wonton/dumpling fillings as a substitute for water chestnuts. Click here  for the wikipedia entry about jicama. It add texture as it is slightly crunchy and has a light, slightly sweet flavor. I use a Japanese mandolin to cut it into sticks, then chop those sticks into little cubes.  In Melbourne, it is available from Chef’s Hat, across the street from the South Melbourne Market on Coventry Street. (note: the Japanese mandolin is not shown on their website but I have seen stacks of them for sale there).

Trupp Cooking School

It is very inspiring to discover a chef who is generous with his knowledge.  The Trupp Cooking School  offers an extensive range of classes about cooking and nutrition.  Located near Prahran Market, this inviting space was created by Walter Trupp and his nutritionist wife, Dorota.  There is a long benchtop/counter around which a small group of students can sit comfortably.  Any seat is a good seat – an unobstructed view can be had from any angle.   My husband and I enrolled in the class Knife Skills,   as we each have our own knives – he has Aritsugu carbon steel knives, handmade with wood and bone handles and I have a hand-me-down cleaver and a sharp and shiny Shun knife (I don’t use his knives and he doesn’t use mine).  Walter demonstrates and explains the techniques to julienne, chop, cut,  bone, etc. as well as the proper way to sharpen knives.  He passed around knives so that we could feel the difference between a knife that is of excellent, good or poor quality.  He discussed cutting boards and how to wash them thoroughly to prevent contamination.  Walter encourages questions and is very engaging.  He stepped out from behind the counter to check each person’s efforts as we practiced on the fruits/vegetables with the supplied knives and board.  I highly recommend this class for those keen to learn from a real expert.  I purchased  the book Trupps’ Wholefood Kitchen – Eat well, live well, feel great to which I’ve already begun to affix post-it notes. This is not just a cookbook, it’s a plain English commentary about how we can take care of ourselves when it comes to what we eat.

Feedback: “…nice way to spend a Sunday morning.”

I had a GREAT time with the Essential Dumplings class at the CAE.   There were 15 very enthusiastic people – men and women from their 20s to 60s.   It was hectic, a little chaotic but energetic.   While I sliced the roast duck,  students introduced themselves and talked about their favorite dumpling restaurants: Hutong Dumpling Bar, Dumpling King, Mahjong were just a few of the names that came up.

Some of the students made very good suggestions – list a few vegetarian recipes as well as other fillings, plus the Asian cole slaw that I mentioned.  I’ve now posted that recipe.

Dumplings, like many other Asian dishes, require alot and I mean alot of chopping.  That is why dumpling making is a group activity.  Throw a dumpling party! Tell your friends to bring their own knife, board and apron and then chop, wrap and eat together.  Cooking and eating together is priceless.