A year ago I attempted to make har gow and failed miserably. It might have been because I used wheat flour instead of wheat starch and the resulting dough was so sticky that I had to throw the “ball of glue” away. The experience was enough to turn me away from trying to make them for a very long time. That is until I had a monumental craving for these dumplings. Cravings so intense that I had har-gau for lunch, FIVE straight days. I would go to one of the nearby yum cha places and order take-away. By the third day it was not only getting expensive – it was also getting slightly embarrassing to arrive at the restaurant and have the waiter smile knowingly, and then signal the lady in the dumpling cart to bring the har gow for me.
By the fourth day I felt like an addict trying to hide a bad craving. My husband called at 11:30 asking whether I wanted to have Japanese for lunch. My heart being set on the dumplings, “I can’t, I have an important meeting that I need to prepare for.” I told him.
By the fifth day I had to admit that things were getting out of hand and vowed to try my hand at making them again.
So here’s the result. If you are thinking of having a go at making these crystal prawn dumplings, this is a great place to start. This version of har gow is delicious – just like the ones in the yum cha place.
Here’s the thing – after having them for five days straight and then making them on my own on the sixth day, I’ve suddenly gotten over my craving.
My husband however, is a different story.
He can’t get enough of them.
The recipe I’ve used is adapted from Eileen Yin Fei Lo’s book, Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking. The dough was much easier to make than I remembered, thanks to the use of a stand mixer (and use of the right ingredients, I might add).
To make the dough, start with mixing tapioca starch (also known as tapioca flour) and wheat starch (remember, it’s different from wheat flour), and a pinch of salt together. Traditionally, boiling water is added and the dough is mixed with chopped sticks but I find using a stand mixer (use the dough hook) makes everything easier to incorporate. Finally, to give the dough some sheen, canola oil is added and the dough is kneaded a few minutes. To form the wrappers, the dough is cut into four equal portions. While you work with one portion of the dough, keep the remaining dough covered in some plastic to make it easier to work with.
The conventional way to shape the dough is to use the edge of an oiled cleaver to form a circle, but again I found it easier to flatten the piece of dough in between two sheets of oiled plastic using a rolling pin. I also used a cookie cutter to cut the dough.
Shaping the dumplings was a different story. I tried my hand at pleating them like in the restaurants but quickly gave up and thought I would work on that another time. Instead, I dressed the dumplings up instead with a mixture of soy sauce, XO sauce and spring onions.
Prawn Dumplings (Har Gow) with XO Sauce
Adapted from Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking Eileen Yin Fei Lo
For the dough
- 150 grams wheat starch
- 85 grams tapioca flour
- pinch of salt
- 265 ml boiling water
- 25 ml grapeseed or canola oil
- In a bowl of a stand mixer, mix the wheat starch, tapioca flour and salt together. Insert the dough hook and turn to the lowest setting. Slowly add the boiling water and then the oil. Turn the speed to medium and continue to mix until the dough comes together into a ball. Remove the dough, knead it a few times until you get a smooth ball and cut it into four equal pieces and place these in a plastic sandwich bag to rest.
- Take one of the pieces and roll it into a log around 20 cm long. Cut this into 8 equal parts place the pieces, except for the one you are going to work with back into the sandwhich bag.
- Get two sheets of plastic (you can use another sandwich bag, cut in half for it) and lightly oil the bags. Put the piece of dough in the middle of the two bags and press down on the dough with the palm of your hand to flatten.
- Take a rolling pin and roll out the dough until around 5 cm in diameter. Cut the dough using a round cookie cutter and place a spoonful of the prawn mixture in the middle of the dough. Fold the dough in half and press the edges together to seal.
For the prawn filling
- 50 grams pork fat
- 250 grams peeled and deveined
- 30 grams bamboo shoots, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 tablespoons tapioca starch
- 1 egg white
- 2 teaspoons oyster sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons spring onions, white part only, chopped
- pinch of salt and white pepper to taste
- Place the pork in a small pot and cover with water. Boil for 20 minutes. Cool, then finely chop and set aside.
- Finely chop the prawns and place in a bowl with the pork fat, bamboo shoots, tapioca starch, egg white, oyster sauce, sugar, spring onions and salt and pepper.
- Using your hands, mix the prawn mixture well and cover with some cling wrap. Allow to marinate at least an hour in the refrigerator.
- Use the prawn mixture as per instructions above.
- Steam the dumplings for six minutes over high heat.
- Serve immediately with a mixture of XO Sauce, soy sauce, and spring onions.