Thursday, October 28, 2010

Har Gau: Chinese Shrimp Dumplings


My first adventure in making dim sum dumplings turned out to be a great success.  Riding the momentum of a successful batch of siu mai, har gau was the next natural option for my exploration into making dim sum.  Har gau and siu mai are dim sum staples and two peas in a pod.  In fact, if you go to a dim sum restaurant that serves out of carts, the cart pusher that has har gau and siu mai will typically announce “har gau siu mai” in one slurred breath.


Dim sum at a restaurant can be great, but it can’t replace the fond memories of my grandma waking up before dawn to hand make a huge spread of dim sum whenever we visited.  My sister’s favorite thing were what we affectionately called “happy faces”.  Essentially, “happy faces” were dumplings filled with ground pork and green onion and named so because they looked like a smile when constructed.  The scratch-made wrappers were most likely made from wheat flour and are essentially the same translucent wrappers used for har gau.  Knowing how well my grandma made those wrappers, I had a lot to live to up.


Because I’m still very new to working with dough in general, the wrappers refused to roll out to my desired thinness.  Every time I would try rolling a piece out, it would quickly shrink back to where it started from.  My inexperience made the wrappers turn out highly questionable and sadly didn’t come remotely close to what my grandma used to make.


Typically the filling has no visible signs of soy sauce but mine obviously did.  Either most restaurants don’t use soy sauce in the filling or use so little that you can’t see it.  The dumplings are also supposed to have nicely pleated seams to seal them.  My “nicely pleated seams” were more like crudely smashed together dough.


As you can see, the wrapper turned out too thick.  The wrapper should be translucent.  Overall, it was a passable dumpling wrapper but a terrible har gau wrapper.  The flavor of the dumpling, though, turned out well, albeit a little too soy sauce-y.  One of the hallmarks of great har gau is the clean shrimp flavor that comes through in each bite and this was somewhat muddled with my heavy hand for soy sauce.

Just like the siu mai, I forgot to write down the ratios and technique when I made the har gau.  These measurements are essentially a best guess based on rummaging through Google search results.

Har gau wrapper:

  1. 250 g (~1 c) water +16 g (~1.25 T) lard => bring to boil
  2. 170 g (~1.33 c) wheat flour + 20 g (~3 T) corn starch => bowl
  3. Step #1 + step #2 => mix
  4. Step #3 => wait until cool enough to handle, knead until smooth
  5. Step #4 => divide into 24 equal portions, roll out into 4” diameter circles

Har gau filling:

  1. 1 green onion => fine chop
  2. 1” piece of ginger => grate or mince
  3. 2 t soy sauce + 1 t sesame oil + 6 g (~1 t) salt + 4 g (~1 t) sugar + 7 g (~1 T) corn starch => mix, dissolve
  4. 500 g (~1 lbs) shrimp + 45 g (~0.1 lbs) pork fat + steps #1-3 => mix

Har gau:

  1. 1 t filling + 1 wrapper => center filling, moisten 1/2 wrapper edge
  2. Dry wrapper edge + moist wrapper edge => seal, pleat
  3. Step #2 => parchment, steam, 6-8 minutes

1 comment:

  1. Hi there. You might want to try using light soy sauce which will cut down on the dark colour and overpowering flavour. ◕‿◕