The joys of Har Gow: transluscent steamed dumplings, with a pork and prawn filling. Little bites of sheer pleasure.
I adore dim sum and can happily devour platefuls of them quite happily – even in place of a main course! Now any type of steamed dumpling ticks all the boxes for me, whether they are like these jiaozi or shumai (below) or like the crystal dumplings in this post.
Crystal dumplings, glass dumplings or whatever you want to call them, this type of dim sum is my version of Har Gow and is particular favourites of mine. As they steam, the dough turns transluscent and you can see the filling inside.
The outer wrapper cooks to give a delightfully sticky texture with a bit of bite, and then the intense flavour of the prawns, mushroom, pork and the spices kick in to give a real taste explosion in the mouth.
I got the basics for this recipe years ago from a restaurant in London that serves the most amazing dim sum. As is often the case -and understandably! – they wouldn’t give me the recipe for the dough…
…but when the owner said I need wheat starch, cornflour then enough boiling water to form the dough, that was all I needed to have a go!
Boiling water for the dough!
The trick with this dough is to use water that has just boiled. If the water is not that hot (as I found with my first few attempts!!!), the flours and water will not combine and you will end up with a white slurry that is only good for the bin!
Keep the dough lightly moist while you work with it
Once you have rolled the dough out, cover it with a damp tea towel to prevent it from drying out and cracking.
I am hopeless at crimping them and shaping dim sum properly, so I just go for a simple way of shaping by folding them up like mini Cornish pasties. It might not be the traditional approach, but they still hit the spot!
However, I sometimes like to keep them open rather than encase the filling fully within the dough:
When these ones are steamed, this is what you get:
Coriander floating in the dough
I like to incorporate coriander in the dough so that when steamed you can see the coriander almost floating within its transluscent casing. They can, of course, be left plain.
These can be made and shaped ahead and will keep happily in the fridge, covered, for a day before steaming. They can be also be frozen and later steamed from frozen: in which case, give them about 15 minutes steaming time.
An instant alternative filling!
For a really quick filling, you can simply mix chopped prawns (or chicken or vegetables) with a little sweet chilli sauce or other sauce such as hoisin or a garlicky bottled sauce. Not too much sauce: just enough to coat.
Recipe: coriander glass dumplings – makes about 30
- 75g wheat starch
- 75g cornflour
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 140ml boiling water
- about a tablespoon chopped coriander (omit this is you want a plain dough)
- 100g pork mince (10-15% fat)
- 150g raw king prawns, peeled
- 50g chestnut mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
- 1 teaspoon caster sugar
- 1 fat clove of garlic, crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1″ piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- about 1 tablespoon coriander, leaves and stalks, roughly chopped
- 1 spring onions, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon toasted seasame oil
- 1 level teaspoons cornflour, optional*
*the cornflour in the filling absorbs some of the moisure as the dumplings steam but I sometime like omitting the cornflour so that some of flavoured liquid collects inside the steamed wrappers.
Make the filling:
(1) Chop the prawns into largish chunks and put in a bowl with the cornflour and spring onions. Put all the remaining filling ingredients into a food processer. Blitz for a few seconds to give a smooth paste.
(2) Transfer to the bowl and mix with the prawns and spring onions. This can be used immediately but if you cover and leave for a couple of hours or overnight, the flavours will develop significantly.
Make the dough:
(1) Put wheat starch, cornflour, coriander (if using), salt and oil into a mixing bowl. Pour over the boiling water and stir with a wooden spoon to give a smooth dough.
(2) Take a piece of the dough (perhaps about the size of a lime) and cover the rest of the dough with a damp tea towel to prevent it drying out.
(3) Roll out the piece of dough very thinly on a sheet of clingfilm until you can just see through the dough. If you find it easier, put a sheet of clingfilm on top and roll out.
(4) Cut out circles using a round cutter (about 8cm diameter). Carefully place these on the worksurface and cover with a damp tea towel. Repeat with the rest of the dough until you have many circles. You can also re-use the dough trimmings – just cover with the damp tea towel until ready to re-roll.
NB: these are quite delicate and are prone to cracking if the dough dries out, but covering with a damp tea towel makes life easier!
(5) Put almost a teaspoonful of the filling in the middle of a circle of dough and pop a piece of raw prawn on top, pressing down lightly. Bring up the dough around the filling and press together to seal on top: like mini Cornish pasties!
(6) Place greaseproof onto the base of a couple of steamers and use a sharp knife to maek holes in hte paper so the steam can come through easily.
(7) Place the uncooked dumplings onto the paper, a little apart, and steam for 9-10 minutes.
NB: I like to stack several steamers and do a large amont of these. Even with 3-4 steamers in the stack, I still find 9-10 minutes is long enough.