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Aug 23, 2010 11:35 AM

Are deep-fried wontons Chinese?

If not who thought of this? What is the origin?

Wiki seems to indicate they are a Chinese-American thing.

"In American Chinese cuisine (and in Canada as well), wontons are served in two ways: in wonton soup (wontons in a clear broth), and as an appetizer called fried wontons. Fried wontons are often served without filling and eaten with duck sauce or Chinese mustard. Some fried wontons are filled with a cream cheese and crab filling and called crab rangoon. Compared to the Far East versions, fried wontons are eaten dry."

Add Guatemala to that .. and if you are ever there ... get the deep-fried wontons ... they are better than any I've tried in the US ... large, light and delicately crispy ... without a speck of grease with pleasant little fillings and lovely sweet and sour. An interesting sort of fusion of two cultures ... wontons are fabulous with Pacamas, a hot green sauce.

I was never a fan in the US were they are often hard, greasy and with a minimal flavor.

So, given my new fondness for wontons, I was wondering where they got their start.

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  1. I think wontons were being fried in Hong Kong before they were in the U.S. (or Canada).

    I also think it depends on what you mean by "deep-fried wontons". The wiki article refers to wontons without fillings. I think those would most likely be a Chinese American invention. But regular wontons with fillings that are deep-fried, I think are at the very least not an exclusive North American invention.

    7 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      I'm talking about this

      Just your standard egg roll type of snack.

      Who thiought of this ... no, seriously. What would posess someone to do this?

      1. re: rworange

        Oh, you're talking about deep-fried wonton skins? Those things that are more often than not crubmled and garnished on things like chow mein or gloppy mushu pork?

        Yes, Chinese American all the way.

        It's the Chinese-American tortilla chip.

        1. re: ipsedixit

          No. I am talking about the chip itself.

          I'm not interested in things crumbled on anything

        2. re: rworange

          Well, IIRC (and it is entirely possible that I do not and/or the story was apocryphal) the crab rangoon was an invention of trader vic's ... and what you're talking about is more or less the same thing - for instance the pic you posted just has shrimp instead of "crab". So Id' guess that yes, very american-chinese.

          1. re: jgg13

            Good heavens. Everybody seems to act like they've never heard of this before. Almost every Chinese restaurant from East Coast to West has these on the appetizer section of the menu.

            Even restaurants that serve more authentic food put these on the menu for the beef and brocoli / sweet and sour pork crowd.

            They may or may not have evolved from crab rangoon .. if you search the board there are a zillion threads on crab rangoon's origin ... so I'm got the origin of that down ... but they are not the same

            1. re: rworange

              Actually sweet and sour pork is authentic old style Cantonese that evolved through time and across geographical boundaries/continents. The old fashioned original way of flavoring the fried goodness was to not use vinegar and sugar, or Worcestershire sauce, or ketchup, or strawberries (fusion versions), but dried haw flakes and hawthorns, of which only perhaps a handful of places in Hong Kong still prepare the dish this way.

              1. re: K K

                Sweet and sour pork is very traditional. I agree. I would also consider the vinegar and sugar and Worcestershire sauce versions being authentic as well.

                I just cannot bring myself to agree with the strawberries ones.

      2. Back in March there was a thread about the world of wontons. Yes, in Hong Kong they deep fry them with the pork bits inside.

        But the ultimate luxurious (overkill) dish synonymous to a nachos supremo ultimo grande, is the "Gum Loe Won Ton" 錦鹵雲吞. There's a blog link in that link above, but here's a more recent take by this excellent HK blogger (6th, 7th, and 8th pictures


        This is a very old school dish that used to be served in formal sit down table cloth restaurants (of which that Mido Cafe from the 50s used to be such, and now it is a blue collar everyday type place that still serves this classic, and this is the definitive dish at Mido). The key to the wontons is thick (thus crispy) skin to hold the chunky sauce (Chinese salsa).

        2 Replies
        1. re: K K

          Oh ... very cool. Thanks. I have no clue why but in Guatemala they seem closer to that ... down to the sweet and sour sauce

          I have to say it was a shock to me to find deep-fride wontons could actually taste good. On my own I never order them in the US and only barely tolerate them when someone else orders them

          1. re: rworange

            Hmm, virtually a vegetarian version of the "gum lo won ton" dip sauce, close but not quite. There is pineapple in the HK receipe too.

            There is another interesting parallel in some old school Hong Kong restaurants..."shrimp toast". Take a piece of shrimp de-shelled but with tail on, lay it on a small slice of white breada little cilantro and a teeny bit of Chinese ham on top, entire thing deep fried very quickly. Not as common these days, but used to be an appetizer at upscale restaurants a while ago. There is another variant which they call shrimp toast pot sticker.

        2. Had something called Yee Won Ton which is deep fried wontons with gravy and veggies. The restaurant was in LA Chinatown and owner told me it originated from China. There was a CH thread a couple years ago saying the Golden Peacock in Oakland was a favorite place for this dish.

          1. well, they are mentioned in my several chinese cookbooks, with all sorts of fillings.