These Chinese shrimp dumplings are so good and worth the effort to make from scratch, even though it takes 1.5 to 2 hours to make a batch. They are just like the shrimp dim sum Har Gow (虾饺), but with a regular wrapper rather than a translucent wrapper. The translucent wrapper makes it look more pretty and has a softer texture, but I find it impossible to work with the wheat starch dough. That is because it doesn’t contain gluten, and gluten are required for your dough to have elasticity and hold together. I used the recipe by Chinese Cooking Demystified for Har Gow, but made a few simplifications. The most important one being the wrappers.
Makes about 35 pieces
200 grams (7 oz) shelled and deveined shrimp (net weight after cleaning the shrimp)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp MSG
1/4 tsp freshly ground white pepper
80 grams (3 oz) minced bamboo shoots or water bamboo (also known as wild rice stems)
40 grams (1.3 oz) pork fat
2 tsp lard
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
For the wrappers
200 grams (1 1/3 cup) dumpling flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
about 60 ml (1/4 cup) hot water (just off the boil)
light soy sauce
Place the flour, salt, and egg in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Start mixing with the paddle attachment.
Drizzle hot water while the machine is running. Add only just enough water to let the dough come together, so add the water very very slowly towards the end. If the dough ends up too sticky, you can add a bit more flour.
When the dough has come together (you can help a bit with your hands; it is fine if it stays together after you’ve helped it, but add more water if it won’t come together)…
Switch over to the dough hook and knead on medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Wrap the dough in plastic foil and allow it to rest in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.
Mince the shrimp coarsely. On Chinese Cooking Demystified the shrimp is salted and then rinsed for a long time with cold water. This may be necessary with fresh shrimp to remove any slime, but I had to use frozen shrimp as fresh shrimp is not available here.
Mince the pork fat very fine. On Chinese Cooking Demystified they blanch the pork fat first. I’ve tried both and liked the more porky flavor without blanching better.
Remove the fibrous outer husk of the water bamboo and discard, and mince the tender inside part.
Combine 1 tsp salt, 2 tsp sugar, 2 tsp cornstarch, and 1/2 tsp MSG in a bowl and mix.
MSG is a controversial ingredient and has a bad reputation without a rational reason, as it is naturally present in many foods like parmigiano, tomatoes, soy sauce, and mushrooms, and responsible for the flavor that we describe as umami. The powdered form is chemically exactly the same as the natural variety, so it can’t be true that powdered MSG causes headaches, whereas eating parmigiano or tomatoes does not.
Add the mixture to the shrimp…
…and stir until the shrimp is sticky and starts to leave streaks on the side of the bowl. Chinese Cooking Demystified says to stir in one direction only, but I am not sure if that is actually important.
Add the minced pork fat, minced water bamboo, and lard to the shrimp…
…and mix. The filling will be easier to work with if you chill it in the freezer or refrigerator, but that is not required.
Roll out the dough very thinly, using the same procedure as when making ravioli. Cut out circles with a diameter of 10 cm (4 inches).
Take a wrapper and place about half a tablespoon of filling in the center.
Close the wrapper with pleats. My friend Melvin is very good at that. I’m not, so I would just use more filling or smaller circles, and simply seal the wrappers.
You could use scissors to trim the dumpling and make it look even more pretty, but we didn’t bother.
Place the dumplings in a bamboo steaming basket lined with something to prevent them from sticking but with enough holes for the steam to get through. We used perforated oven paper, but you could also place the dumplings on thin slices of carrot.
Steam the dumplings for about 15 minutes.
Serve with chili oil and light soy sauce for dipping.
We enjoyed this with a Condrieu, which is Viognier from the best terroir for Viognier in the world in the Northern Rhone. Another Viognier would probably also work.
Parsnip bark is tasty and fun as a crispy garnish.