Ground beef wontons are an easy appetizer that can be made at home and may be considered healthier when compared to traditional wontons that are often filled with ground pork. Wontons are flour-based wrappers filled with various meat and vegetable fillings and then deep fried for a crispy dumpling.
A wonton, in broad terms, is essentially a fried Chinese dumpling that is filled with a mix of vegetables and meat, typically ground pork or beef, although ground chicken or turkey can easily be substituted as a lower-fat alternative. For savory wontons, fillings might also include shrimp or even cheese. A recipe for cheese wontons is available here.
While I mentioned wontons are a popular appetizer and it is not uncommon to enjoy these as a meal or even a snack, wontons are also a popular food item at Japanese obon festivals in the West. “Wonton plates” are often sold as a meal with rice, salad, and tsukemono (pickles).
The obon festival is a Buddhist tradition that dates back over 500 years ago. Additional information about obon is available here.
You’ll find that wontons are folded in a number of ways, but I’ve found that most Japanese wontons are often folded into simple triangles. Not only are these easy to fold, but they also require less time to prepare and this is important especially if you are preparing large quantities of wontons.
While these wontons can be enjoyed as is, sometimes wontons are served with a dipping sauce. A simple sauce that I enjoy, which is also very easy to prepare, is mixing equal parts of ketchup and Japanese tonkatsu sauce. Another easy sauce idea is using a bottled jar of duck sauce which is similar to a mixture of apricot preserves and savory ingredients such as garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, and chili.
- 1 small onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 small celery stalk, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 pound extra lean ground beef (substitute with ground chicken or turkey)
- 1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, more to taste
- 1 12-ounce package of wonton wrappers
- Water, for sealing wontons
- 2 to 3 cups Canola oil, for frying
- First, make the meat mixture.
- In a large pan, add olive oil and sauté chopped onions and celery until translucent. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Add ground beef, season with salt and pepper and sauté until browned and cooked through.
- Line mesh colander with paper towels and drain beef mixture for about 5 to 10 minutes to remove excess oil. This also allows the filling to cool prior to wrapping.
- Next, prepare your work station with a small bowl of cold water, wonton wrappers and a tray for the finished wontons.
- Make triangular-shaped wontons by placing a heaping teaspoon of the meat mixture in the center of a wonton wrapper. Using your finger, dip in water, then moisten two adjoining edges of the wonton. Fold the dry edges over the meat mixture and seal with the moistened edges, pressing firmly and sealing the triangular shaped wonton closed. TIP: When sealing the wonton, try and minimize the amount of excess air inside the wonton. Air will cause the wonton to "puff up" when fried. Repeat until all mixture is used.
- Heat canola oil in a medium pot on medium-high. The ideal frying temperature is about 375 F. If you do not have a thermometer, test the oil with a small piece of uncooked wonton wrapper and if the wrapper quickly bubbles and floats to the top then the oil is ready. Fry about no more than four at a time so as not to crowd the pot. It only takes about 30 to 40 seconds on each side to fry the wontons to a golden color. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Serve once the wontons have cooled slightly, either with or without dipping sauce.