Shrimp Dumplings (Har Gow)

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Hi there! I’m doing something that I’ve never done before. I’m blogging on a plane! I’m currently (as I type this) thousands of feet in the air on my way to Chicago for work. By the time you read this, I’ll probably be passed out after a day of meetings and traveling around Illinois since 6:45am, Chicago time. Ugh. Hopefully I’ll have a tasty Chicago dinner in my belly by then, instead of an airport carrot muffin.

This is my first time traveling for work! I feel very grown up and professional right now. When I was younger, I would daydream about what my life would be like as a young professional working in a big city. I watched The Devil Wears Prada, and just assumed that that would be my life. I would live in a shitty apartment with my professional chef boyfriend. Wear pencil skirts and flowy blouses everyday. Maybe even a blazer. Run errands and grab coffee for my overbearing boss.  And travel around with my laptop and blackberry in hand at all times. None of this has come to fruition. Thankfully. My apartment is a dream and I’m constantly gratefully that Reuben (my architect/almost professional chef boyfriend) can manage to live in it. I’ve NEVER worn a blazer to work. Heck, I came into work in yoga pants today and I don’t think anyone even noticed. I’ve also never had to do the bidding of any overbearing bosses. And who uses a blackberry anymore???

I’m definitely not the jet-setting young professional that I thought I would be. But I’m totally fine with that. Flying sort of sucks and I would miss lounging on the couch watching Food Network with Reuben too much.

*side note: isn’t it just common decency to NOT watch YouTube videos out loud when you’re on a plane? Yes?! I thought so……

I have about 6 hours of free time on Saturday before I fly back to San Francisco. I’ve already located the most amazing looking Matcha Latte, which is conveniently 3 blocks from my hotel! I’m trying to decide on what I should eat. Should I eat Chicago specific foods, like a hotdog or deep dish pizza? Or should I just keep going on this dumpling train?? Advise me!

Did someone say dumpling?! I have dumpling recipe No. 2 for you this month! This might be my favorite dumpling of ALL TIME. Har Gow are simple steamed shrimp dumplings in a crystal wheat starch wrapper. They are part of the dim sum trifecta, which I consider to be char sui bao (BBQ pork buns), pork sui mai (open top pork dumplings), and har gow. You can’t NOT order a few steamers of them at dim sum. I literally could eat like 50 of them in one sitting. They are so light, fresh, and clean tasting! The dim sum spot right our apartment makes THE BEST ones. I wish I could rig a pulley system from their kitchen to my bedroom window for easy har gow access.

When I was little I would only eat the wrapper of these. I’d take a nibble to open up the dumpling. Pick out the shrimp filling and plop it down on either my mom’s or grandpa’s plate. I was crazy. I thankfully grew out of my picky eating stage and now eat the whole dumpling. But if you have never had a dumpling in a crystal wrapper before, you are missing out! The texture is the best part. It’s light and chewy, and pairs incredibly well with a quick dip in some soy sauce or chili oil.

As with most dumplings, these are slightly labor intensive. Mainly the folding. My grandma showed me how to fold a har gow when I was home for Christmas and it blew my mind. I’ve watched so many hours of dumpling folding videos. But to see someone do it so easily in front of you and with directions was revolutionary. I made a little video for you to study when you try to make these dumplings. But honestly, even an ugly dumpling is a delicious dumpling! I feel like that should be on a t-shirt or bumper sticker. Also, this is my very first video! It's a little rough, so don't judge me too much! I have no idea what I'm doing... 

I have 2 more dumpling recipe to share with you after this. I’ll have a fully stocked freezer full of dumplings and I won’t have to fold, crimp or pinch for a very long time : )

Happy folding and steaming, folks!


Shrimp Dumplings (Har Gow)

For the filling:
1 ½ lb shrimp – deveined and peeled
1/3 cup water chestnuts – finely chopped
2 cloves garlic - minced
1 tsp salt
½ tsp white pepper
½ tsp sesame oil
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp oyster sauce

For the wrapper:
3 cups wheat starch (plus more for dusting)
2 cups just boiled water
3 tsp olive oil

Maker’s Notes:

You can buy wheat starch at most asian grocery stores.

Non-steamed dumplings can keep in the freezer for a few month. You can steam them from frozen for about 1-2 minutes extra.

I have a 10” bamboo steamer that fits perfectly on top of my LeCreuset dutch oven. You want the steamer to fit snuggly over the pot you are boiling water in. Any gaps will prevent the dumplings from steaming correctly.

Steps:

Start by preparing your filling. Finely chop your shrimp. Rock your knife back and forth over the shrimp multiple times so that it gets a pasty consistency. Place the shrimp in a medium bowl. Combine with finely chopped water chestnuts, minced garlic, salt, white pepper, and sesame oil. Give it a good mix until everything is evenly incorporated. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and allow the mixture to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

In a large bowl, measure out 3 cups of wheat starch. Pour in the just boiled water. Give it a light mix, about 2 to 3 turns with a spoon or paddle. You still want the mixture to be about 50% dry. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set the bowl aside for 15 minutes. The hot water is going to steam the wheat starch. After 15 minutes, removed the plastic wrap. Add olive oil and start kneading the dough until you get a super smooth and opaque dough ball and it no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl.

Roll your dough into a neat ball. Pinch off enough dough to make a ¾” round ball. To make your wrapper you can either roll them out with a small rolling pin or with a tortilla/dumpling press. You want your wrappers thin, but not too thin that it breaks while folding, and about 3” in diameter.

To fold your dumpling, place the wrapper in your non-dominant hand.  In my case, it is the left hand. Slowly start to fold the wrapper in half. Using your free hand, slowly create pleats on the bottom half of the dumpling. You should be able to get about 5 to 6 pleats in, but work with what is comfortable for you. Once you have pleated the bottom half. Scoop in about 1 1/2 tsp of filling into the dumpling, filling size varies depending on the size of your dumpling. Try not to over fill your dumpling. To seal the dumpling, pinch together the top half of the wrapper with the pleated half. Give it a good pinch on the side to get that typical Har Gow look.

Arrange the dumplings on baking tray dusting with wheat starch or cornstarch so that it doesn’t stick.

To steam the dumplings, place a bamboo steam on top of pot of boiling water. You’ll need about 3 to 4 inches of boiling water. You want to make sure your pot and steamer are the same diameter. If there is a gap, it won’t steam as well.

Line your steamer with parchment paper or cabbage leaves. Arrange your dumplings in the steam and steam for 15 minutes.

Remove the steamer from the pot and allow them to cool for a few minutes. Enjoy hot and with a side of soy sauce!