Today we are making Qian Li Xiang Huntun (千里香馄饨). Huntun is wonton. Qian means a thousand. Li is an ancient unit of length, which equals 500 meters. Xiang means fragrance or aroma. So the name is trying to tell you that this wonton smells so good that the fragrance can spread out to 500 km away. That is a little bit exaggerated but it indeed smells amazing and tastes incredibly delicious. I am excited to share it with you.
Soak 1 cinnamon stick, 2 bay leaves, 1 star anise, 2 pieces of clove, and 3 pieces of dried red chilies with some hot water for 20 minutes. This is to give the spices a little bit of moisture which will allow them to transfer the flavor to the oil without burning. Set it aside.
Here is my story about this recipe. There used to be a wonton store on the way to my school. It is packed every day. People got attracted by its fragrance and stayed for its flavor. I always wonder how do they make the wontons smells and tastes so good.
The key is deep-fried onion and garlic. Of course, the owner kept the secret. I figured it out after countless times of eating it there and trying it at home.
Dice 1 + 1/3 of a big onion. Try to use purple onion, so the fragrance can be stronger.
Dice 18 cloves of garlic, you can use more if you want. Optionally, put the garlic in a sieve and rinse it with running water. When the garlic is crushed and chopped, it will release a type of chemical called mercaptans, which makes your knife, cutting board sticky. That chemical is what we are trying the rinse off because it will bring a bitter taste when deep fried. Dried it with paper towels. Set it aside.
Cut 3 scallions into 2 inches long pieces.
Slice 2 inches of ginger finely.
Dice 100 grams of garlic chive. You can use other types of vegetables if you want. Such as mushrooms, carrots, cabbage, scallion…
Pour 1.5 cups of oil into the wok. The onion contains more moisture compared to other ingredients so we will add it to the wok first. Turn the heat to medium-low. Simmer the onion for 5 minutes. When you see it starts bubbling, you can add in the garlic, ginger slices, scallion strips, and the soaked but well-drained spices. Stir it constantly. Make sure to use your spatula to scrape the bottom of the wok so nothing sticks. Continue to simmer everything on medium-low heat for another 20 – 30 minutes or until the onion and garlic are lightly golden.
By the way, a safety note: do not do this with a small saucepan. These aromatics have a lot of moisture, which will create lots of bubbles while simmering in the oil, and it could overflow if your cookware is too small. A wide-open wok is perfect. If you don’t have a wok, you can use a large frying pan.
Since it has lots of bubbles, it is hard to see the color change. So you will have to pick up a little bit of the onion and garlic to check the color carefully. When you see it becomes golden brown, quickly let it go through a sieve. Take your time to pick out all the spices, scallions, and ginger slices. They have done their job, we don’t need them anymore.
We will use the fried garlic and the onion to make the filling later. Store the aromatic oil in a jar. It will stay good in the fridge for 2 months. This is good stuff, you can drizzle it over wonton soup, noodle soup, hot and sour soup. It will bring the dish to another level. I also like to add a little bit of it to my stir frieds. The fragrance will give you a nice feeling when you put the dish on the table. It can also be a replacement for sesame oil if you are allergic to sesame.
Next, we will make the filling. Roughly diced 200 grams of peeled and deveined shrimp. You can grind it finely if you want but I like to be able to chew the little shrimp bits.
Add the shrimp to a big mixing bowl along with 300 grams of ground chicken thigh.
Season the protein with 1.5 tbsp of soy sauce, 1.5 tbsp of fish sauce, 1 tbsp of oyster sauce, 1 tbsp of Chinese cooking wine, and some white pepper to taste
Stir the protein within 1 direction for 5 minutes to develop the texture. Once you see the meat became a stick paste, and there are many small little strings appearing, you can add the fried aromatics, and the diced garlic chives or any other vegetables that you like. Keep stirring the filling until everything is well combined.
Next, we will wrap the wonton. I am using store-bought wrappers because making them from scratch is time-consuming and you can buy wonton wrappers easily in Walmart and target. Just check the frozen sections in your local grocery stores. Be sure to put them out 40 minutes ahead at room temperature to defrost.
The wrapping is really easy. You just put some filling in the middle. Gather the edge together and pinch to close it. Even a 3-year-old kid can do it. This recipe is enough to make 50-60 pieces of the wonton. That will be 4 or 5 servings.
Wonton is freezer-friendly. If you like this recipe, you can double or triple the amount. Put them in a sealed container. Use plastic wrap to keep each layer separate. Frozen wonton is one of my quick and tasty breakfasts. Whenever you want to eat them again, don’t need to defrost, just boil them directly.
Ok, let’s cook the wonton. Pour in 8 cups of chicken stock into the pot. Season it with some salt by taste. Cover it and bring it to a boil. I am just using the store-bought stock as it is fast and easy. There is no need to spend hours making your own broth for this recipe, because, With the deep fry onion and garlic, the wonton is going to taste amazing.
When the broth comes to a boil, use your spoon to swirl the water to create a cyclone. Then put in the wonton. This way, they will flow with the water instead of sinking to the bottom directly. Otherwise, they will stick to the bottom and loss a part of the skin.
The temperature of the pot will drop immediately after you add the wonton. Keep the heat at medium-low. Wait until they float to the top of the water and the pot should come back to a simmer. Then add 1/2 cup of cold water to drop the temperature. Wait for the pot to come back to a simmer again. This method is call dian len shui. Whether your wonton is frozen or fresh, you can use the same method and the wonton will be fully cooked. Don’t worry about the timing because if the wonton is frozen, it takes longer for it to float to the top of the water and come to a simmer.
while waiting for the pot to come back to a boil, you can quickly cut some baby bok choy or you can use other green leafy vegetables that you like.
When the pot is simmering, add in the vegetables. Let it blanch with the wontons for 20 seconds to a minute depending on your preference. And you are done.
Serve them in a bowl, you can do 8-15 pieces per serving depending on your appetize.
Here comes the most important part to make this qianlixiang wonton – drizzle in 1-2 tbsp of the aromatic oil. The heat from the soup will reactivate the fragrance. Sprinkle some diced scallion as a garnish.
When you take a bite, you will get blown away by a strong complex flavor, which is from the caramelized onion and garlic. This is my go-to breakfast. No matter how many times I eat it, I always amazed by its meaty and juicy texture.
Oh, almost forget to mention an optional topping but must-have for me – the pickled long beans. You can also do other types of pickles. A little bit of fermented touch really helps to brighten up the taste.