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Thursday, June 13, 2024

The rustic wonton skin soup

By Hoang Kim

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Wonton skin soup, also known as hoanh thanh la, is a rustic Vietnamese dish that incorporates distinct flavors and ingredients influenced by local culinary traditions, reflecting the country’s diverse gastronomic heritage.

Originating from China, wonton skin soup has been adapted by the Vietnamese people, using familiar ingredients to suit Vietnamese tastes while retaining its unique character. Although the dish may seem simple at first glance, it requires meticulousness and high attention to detail throughout the entire process, from sourcing the ingredients to preparing and cooking the dish to achieve its authentic flavor.

The wonton skin used in the dish is in a dry form, measuring about 15 to 20 centimeters in length with a light yellow appearance. It is thin, crispy, and fragile. Once cooked, the chef breaks the wonton skin into bite-sized pieces and simmers them in the broth. Despite cooking for a long time, the wonton skin maintains its structure without becoming soggy.

The broth has a clear and sweet flavor made from pork or chicken bones, simmered with aromatic ingredients like ginger, onions, and sometimes dried shrimp or squid. The broth is lighter compared to Chinese versions, emphasizing a clean and delicate taste.

The dish can be paired with various toppings such as dried shrimp, pork trotters, a few pieces of blood pudding, minced meat, and bagel twists (banh quay). The chef then adds chopped green onion and cilantro on top of the bowl, sprinkles a large amount of ground pepper, making the dish both fragrant and spicy. A touch of fish sauce or a squeeze of lime juice can be added to enhance the flavors.

Diners can find wonton skin soup in street food stalls and local eateries. It can be enjoyed as a comforting breakfast, a light lunch, or an appetizer.

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