Since my mother moved back to Shanghai a couple months back, I’ve found myself not only missing her (terribly) but reminiscing back to all the Chinese traditions that she’s instilled in me over all these years.  I almost feel less Chinese without her — no more ancient Chinese medicines, no more meditation practices, no one to speak Chinese to, no one yelling over my shoulder “AIYA JOY put that back, why you always buy buy buy??  SAVE MONEY!”   It feels weird to not have my mother completely accesible — I’ll pick up the phone to call her with a question only to realize she’s 13 hours ahead of me.

I miss her.  I miss laughing loudly with her, Collin would constantly complain about us making his ears ring but we couldn’t help it — we have way too much fun together.   I miss going to the asian markets with her, it’s been a tradition since as young as I could remember.  My mother worked a lot and the little free time she did have she spent coooking for us. Every Sunday for 13 years I followed her to the market where we’d do our shopping for the week and she’d always let me get a little snack as a treat for tagging along :).  I miss eating her food, I realize maybe I don’t make Chinese food as much as I should because it just doesn’t taste quite like Mom’s.  It’s just not the same.


My nostalgia left me feeling a little empty and found myself craving for some type of comfort.  I called my mom and told her –

“Mom not having you here makes me sad, it also makes my tummy sad.” 

“I miss you Joy!  Why your tummy sad?  You get fat?” 

“…NO (yes)! Mom that’s not the point, I wish you were here to make me food.”

“OOOH fancy girl!  Become milloinaire and mommy move back to cook for you.”

“You better watch out mom, I’m already half way there…”

” Why you no make wonton?  You make you freeze you eat whenever you want!”

But of course, WONTONS what could be more soul comforting that that?  It’s like getting a big warm hug without my mom even being here!  Best part is, everytime I make these they do taste just like mom’s!  I’d remember during the holidays my mom, aunts and cousins and I would gather around the table making wontons.  We’d set up an assembly line almost, I’d be in charge of taking the wonton peels apart, my aunt would divide up the filling and my cousin would fold the wontons and my mom would cook them up.  Best part is, any wontons we didn’t eat my mom would freeze and then portion out into individual bags for later use. 


Ingredients for My Mother’s Wonton Soup: (makes 48-54 wontons)

  • 7 oz shrimp, shelled
  • 14 oz ground pork
  • 1 package wonton wrappers
  • 1/2 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon corn strach
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar


  • 6 cups chicken stock 
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • cilantro and green onion, chopped for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon salt


Wash the shrimp, squeeze out the excess moisture and chop coarsely.  Mix together with the ground pork, egg white, cornstarch, sesame oil, salt, sugar, rice wine and ginger.  Take your wonton wrappers and wrap them in a moist towel, this keeps the wrappers from drying out.  Wrap one teaspoon filling in each wonton wrapper.  You can fold them as the way I’ve shown or just gather and twist the edges together to form a little purse. 

Bring the chicken stock and salt and white pepper to a boil and pour into a soup bowl.  Bring 5 cups of water to a boil and drop in the wontons.  Cook until the wontons rise to the top, about 5 minutes.  Remove the wontons from the water and place in the prepared chicken broth.  Top with scallions, cilantro and drizzle with sesame oil.  Serve immediately. 


***** A trick my mom would always use to adjust the flavorings for the filling is she would make a wonton and cook and taste it first.  That way you’re able to adjust the flavorings according to your taste (i.e. add more salt to the filling or more sugar or more wine). 

 ***** My mom use to steam the wontons and then place them in the broth.  This keeps the wontons from falling apart and becoming over cooked.  If you choose to steam the wontons you can use a bamboo steamer (as pictured) and steam for 10 minutes on high heat.  You can also eat the wontons plain without the broth and serve them alongside a dipping sauce. 

***** also note the orange slices serve no purpose in the broth except for a nice garnish and color contrast, do feel free to leave that out. 



So as I promised awhile ago I’d share some pictures of my mom that I took before she left.  Thankfully she’s not able to see my blog in China because she specifically told me “Do not put my old face on your website, who wants to see an old lady?”  That’s where I think she’s wrong.  My mom is in her mid 50s and she looks anything BUT old — I can only HOPE that by the time I reach her age I look as good as she does. 

Please note that I did not use any blurring or retouching of her face because I wanted everyone to observe the quality of her complexion.  Her secret?  Well where do I start….she has never tanned once in her life, she’s never eaten fast food for the 25 years shes lived here (aside from the occasional ice cream cone from McDonald’s), her daily diet usually consists of boiled vegetables, very little meat and virtually no salt.  She never wore makeup, only lipstick and a little brow pencil, never a smoker or a drinker, and she always has a glass of warm lemon water first thing in the morning.   

When we go out, people always ask “Are you guys sisters?”  Now while my mom is soaking it up and giggling like a little school girl, I’m standing in the back looking extremely unamused.  “NO WE’RE NOT SISTERS.” I’d reply with a scowl.  But with all jokes aside, I worry sometimes.  I worry that despite having her genes once you factor in all the environmental effects I’ve done on my skin, maybe I won’t look as radiant and beautiful as mother when I’m in my 50s.  She always tells me though “The secret is prevention.  Always protect yourself when you’re still young.”  Good advice from a wise wise woman. 

I love you mom and miss you everyday, and though this wonton soup doesn’t completely make up your absence it does help bring comfort to my belly and soul.  I can’t wait to see you next year and no matter how old you become you will always be the most beautiful woman in my eyes.  I hope you guys enjoy this recipe as it holds a very special place in my heart and plus its a Shanghainese recipe so therefore you know it’s freakin bad ass.  ^_^ ENJOY!


  1. Elissa says: 11 Nov ’10 • 19:19:48

    I’m going to start drinking warm lemon water in the morning, if that’s her secret to great skin! Beautiful photos and story, Joy… I may try out these wontons at some point too :)


    • Joy says: 12 Nov ’10 • 15:21:16

      Elissa she has a lot of secrets but she claims drinking warm lemon water is the way to go! Thanks for the kind words :) If you do end up trying it tell me what you think.

  2. Martin D. Findley says: 11 Nov ’10 • 19:37:05

    Keep your mother happy, some day you won’t have her to turn to. I lost my mother in February, unexpetedly, and that has made my life very sad. I didn’t call her enough or visit, and she was still in the U.S.A. I was a bad son, now I miss her so very much!


    • Joy says: 12 Nov ’10 • 15:39:40

      Martin I am sorry to hear about your loss — that must’ve been very hard. However I don’t believe she ever thought you were a bad son. We sometimes take things for granted without even meaning to do so, it’s something I struggle with myself every day. I hope you find peace and love for I am sure your mother is smiling upon you every day.

  3. Steven Doyle says: 11 Nov ’10 • 21:26:07

    Beautiful. I want to make these this weekend time permitting.


    • Joy says: 12 Nov ’10 • 15:41:34

      Thanks Steven :) ! If you do you gotta let me know how they turned out.

  4. Anncoo says: 12 Nov ’10 • 01:07:58

    Joy, Your mom still looks pretty and young no wonder people says both of you look like sisters :)
    I love wontan soup and I can eat a lot of this. :)


    • Joy says: 12 Nov ’10 • 15:44:47

      Hahaha thank you Anncoo they started saying that when I was like 18… my mom would always turn around and laugh “Joy you see? I tell you to stop tanning!”

      … its funny how mother’s are always right.

  5. Kat says: 12 Nov ’10 • 01:29:24

    Lovely post, Joy – enjoyed it thoroughly! I adore wontons. Your mom is gorgeous, and you’re going to turn out just as great as she has. I forwarded your blog post on to some friends. ;) Keep it up, whatever you’re doing here to find out what it is you want to do with life – you’re doing awesome!


    • Joy says: 12 Nov ’10 • 15:51:26

      Kat, your comment means so much because I absolutely love your work :) Thank you for the words of encouragement and support, you are so lovely!

  6. Rachel Allen says: 12 Nov ’10 • 05:49:04

    I so enjoyed your post about your beautiful mother. It touched my heart to read your loving comments. Thank you for sharing her with your readers and the recipe for wonton soup as well!


    • Joy says: 12 Nov ’10 • 15:53:32

      Hey Rachel
      Thank you for your comment! I am very fortunate to have such a great mom :)

  7. Rebecca Hightower says: 12 Nov ’10 • 05:53:30

    Thank you so much for your post! I look forward to making wontons tomorrow with my daughter and sharing your post with my friends.


    • Joy says: 12 Nov ’10 • 15:54:29

      Rebecca that is wonderful!! I think this would be a great recipe for you and your daughter :) Thank you very much for your comment and for your support!

  8. Christine says: 12 Nov ’10 • 06:48:29

    Yummy! I can’t wait to try these.

    You are SO sweet and I can tell that you’re such a good daughter. Your mom must be so proud of you :) I love your photos; she’s beautiful!


    • Joy says: 12 Nov ’10 • 15:56:36

      Christine thank you for your kind words! I wasn’t a very good daughter back when I was a teenager so I guess I’m making up for lost time :)

  9. Debs says: 12 Nov ’10 • 07:16:12

    Wow, your post bought back memories for me. I lost my mother 10 years ago now, she was young and had so much more to give.

    Cherish just as you’re doing now. She looks amazing by the way, but of course your can’t tell her we said that because she doesn’t know you’ve plastered her picture all over the internet LOL.

    I love wonton soup, in fact I am addicted to chinese food. I could (and mostly do) eat it every day.

    Thanks for sharing your mum’s soup.


    • Joy says: 12 Nov ’10 • 16:00:05

      Deb thank you for your words — I called her this morning to tell her what I had done and she FLIPPED out haha (in a good and funny way ofcourse).
      Chinese food is definitely one of my favorites hope you enjoy the recipe :)

  10. Anna says: 12 Nov ’10 • 13:07:38

    Hi Joy, I’ve been loving your site for a while now, and this post was just too sweet not to comment on! I love wonton soup and can’t wait to make this recipe. You and mother have a beautiful and special relationship, thanks for sharing a sweet story!


    • Joy says: 12 Nov ’10 • 16:18:12

      Anna — thank you for your comment you’ve made me smile from ear to ear :) I hope you enjoy this recipe and thank you for your support!

  11. Jean says: 12 Nov ’10 • 15:33:03

    Love this tribute to your mom. I know it’s also about the soup (and it looks great!) but all I read is love in this post (and all your posts about your mom). She is beautiful and looks happy and this reminds me of how much I cherish my own mother and appreciate the time I have with her. Thanks so much.


  12. Joy says: 12 Nov ’10 • 16:35:32

    Jean thanks for that :) You are wonderful and thank you for your kind comment. Mothers are the best!


  13. Diane says: 12 Nov ’10 • 17:17:00

    My mom and yours could be cross-cultural sisters. Her habits are EXACTLY the same as your Mom’s, and up until her mid-60′s people still thought we were sisters. Sadly, I have more wrinkles and not as great skin as her, but I still do look younger than I am, so there’s something for genes.


  14. Crystal says: 12 Nov ’10 • 17:24:56

    She’s so beautiful! I can’t believe she’s in her 50s. Also, the soup looks amazing.


  15. Melly says: 12 Nov ’10 • 20:56:49

    Just passing through (from food gawker). What a nice sweet post! Thank you for sharing :)


  16. Kocinera says: 13 Nov ’10 • 07:07:16

    This wonton soup looks so comforting and delicious. I’d love to give this recipe a try on a cold winter day. Sorry that you’re missing your mom–she sounds like a lovely lady. I’m sure she’s glad that you’re trying your hand at some of her recipes, though. :)


  17. ingrid says: 13 Nov ’10 • 10:14:17

    This is a beautiful beautiful post. Thank you.


  18. brainybairn says: 13 Nov ’10 • 13:23:15

    Love your photos and your mom looks fantastic! How do you freeze your wontons? I recently made a batch and had too many. I froze about 20. Had lots of flour between the wontons but during the thawing process, everything got stuck due to condensation and I had to put the entire chunk into the soup as is! Any tips?


  19. [email protected] says: 13 Nov ’10 • 14:36:43

    Your soup looks delish and good for you too!


  20. Julie says: 13 Nov ’10 • 14:51:18

    I fortunately skipped to this early this morning while a chicken is busy making broth on my stove top. I am 53 and very envious of your mothers complexion but more than that is the pleasure of seeing someone through your eyes and words. I “see” the light and joy in her face and laugh. Thank you for sharing one of the most beautiful parts of your world with us. I weep with emotion.


  21. Anna Le says: 13 Nov ’10 • 18:32:17

    Your mom is precious. I will have to try this recipe one day – I love wontons!


  22. Natalie says: 13 Nov ’10 • 23:09:13

    I love your photos, they’re beautiful. Will have to try wontons like this , only ever deep fried them, they look delicious!


  23. Lana says: 14 Nov ’10 • 03:01:17

    Joy- thank you for this recipe! I made it tonight and just love it. Please let your mom know she’s making many bellies happy. : )


  24. Peggy says: 15 Nov ’10 • 02:44:22

    Your mother is absolutely beautiful! I can definitely see where you get it from Joy! It’s great to channel our family through the food we remember and I’m sure this wonton soup was absolutely as comforting, as it was delicious!


  25. Nancy/SpicieFoodie says: 17 Nov ’10 • 02:30:48

    Joy we can all hope to age as gracefully as your beautiful Mother. (I can really see your Mom in photos of you.) Reading your words has made me homesick for my Mom and her cooking. I love Wonton Soup, and I can’t wait to try your recipe. I love the new design of your blog, it really showcases your talent.
    ( I would also really like to thank you for your sweet comment on my blog. Coming from a very talented cook and photographer as yourself it is truly an honor. Thank you:) )


  26. blackbookkitchendiar says: 17 Nov ’10 • 18:55:40

    this soup looks so lovely… yum! i cant wait to try it out.


  27. Wonton Dipping Sauce says: 18 Nov ’10 • 05:40:45

    [...] My Mother's Wonton Soup If you choose to steam the wontons you can use a bamboo steamer (as pictured) and steam for 10 minutes on high heat. You can also eat the wontons plain without the broth and serve them alongside a dipping sauce [...]


  28. Adelina says: 30 Nov ’10 • 19:01:55

    I wish you can re-unite with your mom again. I love the friendship and love you have for each other. What a beautiful soup.


  29. Yue Edwards says: 30 Nov ’10 • 19:57:05

    Hi Joy! I am glad you have found my blog too, coz tracing you back to your corner, i have discovered a gorgeous world full of beautiful photograhs and mouth watering recipes. My friend calls me Joy too coz it’s what Yue means in English. I also like the way your website is designed. did you do it from sratch? it’s simple and clear! well, i just stopped to say hi, hope we step into each other’s territory often:)



  30. Lo says: 3 Dec ’10 • 08:48:47

    I tried this without the shrimp (due to tastes/allergies). It was absolutely fantastic! Also, you/your mom are beautiful. :)


    • Newo says: 4 Mar ’11 • 09:02:46

      I was going to ask if you could leave the shrimp out, i’m glad it still tastes great, i can’t wait to try this.

  31. Divina says: 7 Jan ’11 • 07:35:11

    You have a great relationship with your mom and she’s truly beautiful even without the makeup and thanks for sharing her beauty secret. All of us wants to grow old gracefully. And whenever you eat those wontons, it sure does remind you of your mother and even if you don’t eat or make them, you will always remember your mom every single day. :)


  32. Ej Lee McBride says: 18 Jan ’11 • 01:27:43

    Thank you so much for sharing both your story and your mother’s recipe. I can’t wait to try it out, I had no idea something so tasty could be so easy to make.

    And you are so right – your mother is simply lovely.


  33. Julie says: 26 Jan ’11 • 19:05:20

    I have tried everything in the book to pack for my 4 year old daughter’s lunches. Everyday she comes home with her lunch barely touched. Recently, my family all got the flu:( The only thing that sounded good to me was wonton soup. We ordered it from our corner restaurant…my daughter loved it. So, the other day I stumbled upon your recipe. Today I went out in a blizzard, got the ingredients and my daughter and I made the soup. All I can say is this rocked!! My daughter ate 3 bowls of it. I think this one is going to be a staple lunch for her. Tell your mother thank you, and thanks for sharing:)


  34. Vanille says: 29 Jan ’11 • 04:23:13

    A very beautiful way to show your love to your mother. She looks indeed radiant !
    And I totally share your love of wonton soup, my favorite actually !


  35. Carolyn Jung says: 21 Feb ’11 • 23:59:38

    Steaming the won tons first before putting them in the soup is a great idea. They do hold their form better. I’m trying that trick the next time I make a batch of won tons.


  36. Mel says: 8 Mar ’11 • 14:32:02

    Such a touching post, it’s lovely that you and your mom are so close!

    Do you know of any way to make vegetarian wontons? I know it’s customary for them to be made of pork, but I’ve never eaten it and love wonton soup! I used to get it all the time when younger, and peel as much of the wonton off of the pork ball-things as I could, and give the middle part to one of my parents, lol. I’d love to be able to make a wonton with an edible center! hahaha.


  37. Margie says: 27 Mar ’11 • 21:09:05

    Joy, your photography is amazing!


  38. Tom says: 16 Aug ’11 • 07:02:03

    I love your mom already and will be making these for my family. Say hi to her and I hope you get to be with her soon…..


  39. Carolyn says: 10 Sep ’11 • 00:03:15

    beautiful story, lovely pictures, and a delicious-sounding recipe! I’m an American-born-Chinese girl who can’t cook Chinese food worth anything, but this recipe is motivating enough for me to try! Thanks!


  40. Kristin Galea says: 13 Sep ’11 • 18:46:03

    Thank you so much for sharing your mother’s delicious recipe i am making this tonight for my family.


    • Joy says: 14 Sep ’11 • 02:13:26

      Kristin I hope your family enjoys it, let me know how it goes!

  41. [...] easy to prepare. I would love to take credit for the filling, but I found a recipe for it through However, the broth was my own concoction. It was seasoned beautifully, had the right amount of [...]


  42. Christine says: 16 Jan ’12 • 22:08:02

    Such nice things you say about your mom, I almost miss her for you, but enjoy the time together when she’s here…I miss my mom terribly…..thanks for the recipe and your beautiful thoughts…


  43. Shanghainese Wonton Soup | Enjoy Fun Family Food says: 20 Jan ’12 • 11:52:31

    [...] Source: Joylicious [...]


  44. [...] outline of steps and ingredients and got down to experimenting. Between T’s ingredients and these instructions, I felt pretty confident about what I was doing. Except…what is the difference between rice [...]


  45. sarah says: 23 Jan ’12 • 07:19:13

    I really enjoyed your story it made me smile….I will try this recipe and let u know how it turns out.


  46. Diane says: 31 Jan ’12 • 22:50:33

    I love your bowls and spoons. Where can I get a set?


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