Shrimp dumplings are a classic dish in a dim sum meal, which consists of bite-sized and small portions of Chinese food individually steamed in bamboo steamers. This style of serving Chinese food first originated in southern China and Hong Kong, and later spread throughout the world. Among the Chinese, dim sum is considered an especially refined form of Chinese cuisine, with an emphasis on delicate and difficult dishes, balanced flavors, and exquisite etiquette during dining. Accordingly, shrimp dumplings (also known as Har Gow in Cantonese) are one of the trickier variants of Chinese dumplings to prepare, although if done properly, the results are well worth the effort.
The distinguishing feature of shrimp dumplings are their translucent skin, which is achieved by using a combination of wheat and tapioca flour, as detailed in my recipe for shrimp dumpling wrappers. The deliberate decision to use wheat and tapioca flour to enhance the aesthetic appeal of the dish leads to several technical difficulties during the preparation. To achieve true translucency, the wrapper has to be thin, which is made all the more challenging when wheat and tapioca flour are used, since these flours lack mechanical strength and are easily torn. In addition, the wrapper has a tendency to stick to other surfaces and other dumplings. To ensure that each dumpling stays intact, each dumpling has to be carefully placed on a well-oiled plate without touching each other before steaming.
Prep time : 45 minutes
Cooking time : 15 minutes
• Minced shrimp, 1 ½ cups
• Minced water chestnuts, ½ cup
• Minced ginger, 1 tsp
• 1 egg white, lightly beaten
• Finely chopped green onions, 1 tbsp
• Sugar, 4 tsp
• Salt, 1 tsp
• White pepper, 1 tsp
• Soy sauce, 4 tsp
• Chinese rice wine, 2 tsp
• Sesame oil, 2 tsp
• Cornstarch, 2 tsp
• Shrimp dumpling wrappers
1. Finely chop enough shrimp to fill 1 ½ cups of shrimp. You can also use a meat grinder if you have one.
2. Finely chop enough water chestnuts for ½ cup. Chop green onions to fill 1 tbsp, and chop enough ginger for 1 tsp.
3. In a small bowl, beat one egg white until it is slightly fluffy.
4. To the beaten egg white, add 4 tsp sugar, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp white pepper, 4 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tsp Chinese white wine, 2 tsp sesame oil, and 2 tsp cornstarch. Mix well.
5. Combine the egg white with the minced shrimp, water chestnuts, green onion, and ginger. Stir well to mix.
6. Refrigerate the fillings for 30 min to 1 hr to allow the flavors to mix.
7. In the meantime, make the shrimp dumpling wrappers according to this recipe.
8. Place a small lump of filling in the middle of the round wrapper, take the lower edge of the wrapper over the filling and pinch it over the upper edge. Then, press the edge of the wrapper with your thumb and forefingers to form 3-4 small pleats to seal the filling in. It helps if you use only a small amount of filling per dumpling, because this makes it easier to wrap the dumpling, and also allows it to cook faster when steamed.
9. Smear a small plate with vegetable oil, and arrange the dumplings on the plate. Make sure that the dumplings do not touch, or they will stick when cooked.
10. Steam the dumplings for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the dumplings. It is easy to tell when they are cooked. The wrapper will turn translucent, and the shrimp filling will turn pink.
11. They dumplings can also be frozen if you don’t want to cook them immediately. They can be placed in the steamer directly from the freezer and will be done in 20 minutes on high heat.