A casual won ton party is easy and fun when everyone helps

Food plays a major role in Debbie Lee’s family history. Hergreat-grandfather, who came to the United States in the 1800s towork on the railroads, started one of the first Chinese restaurantsin Los Angeles. Lee, who lives in Sacramento, revives familytraditions with a party where she shows guests how to make won tonand dumplings.

“Making won ton is sort of like origami with food,” Lee says.”The party brings back memories of my childhood where we cookedtogether in the kitchen and just hung out.” She learned to make wonton from her mom; she has updated the recipe by substituting groundturkey for pork.

The dumplings are a new addition, which Lee learned to make on arecent trip to China. We took Lee’s ideas to hold our own cookingparty with friends. The result was an easy, delicious success.
The strategy

This casual cooking party suits a small group of six to eight,which can include kids ― they love the activity. Lee makesthe fillings in advance, then demonstrates how to fill thewrappers. After a few attempts, it’s easy for a group to producemore won ton than they can eat at a time.

Freeze extras, or send guests home with leftovers as partyfavors. Start by making the dumplings together, then take a breakfor an appetizer course of salad and dumplings. (If time is short,serve purchased frozen potstickers or gyoza instead.)

After the first course, move on to wrapping the won ton. Or wrapall the dumplings and won ton at once, clean up, and eat bothtogether in one big feast that perfectly reflects this party’sspirit of community and cooperation.

Serve with tea, orange wedges, and Chinese almond cookies.