In answer to John F's request, here's a recipe that worked out spectacularly well for me. I can't take credit for it because it's not my own, and I can't give proper credit because I don't remember where I got it. Somewhere in the Internet though, I'd searched lots of recipes and decided this one would likely get the closest to what is, for me, the highlight of any dim sum brunch. And indeed, it did.
Crystal Shrimp Dumplings (Haar Gao)
Adapted from Essentials of Asian Cuisine by Corinne Trang
1 cup wheat starch*
½ cup rice flour
2 tbsp tapioca starch**
1 cup boiling water
1 tbsp vegetable oil
In a small bowl, sift together wheat starch, rice flour and tapioca starch. Make a well in the centre and pour in boiling water and vegetable oil while stirring with a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Knead hot dough for 3 to 5 minutes or until the ingredients are well combined, and dough is smooth and slightly elastic. If dough becomes too dry, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of boiling water.
On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into 4 equally sized balls and roll each round until it is between 1/8 to 1/16 inch thick. Use a 3-inch circular cookie cutter to stamp out 3-inch rounds.
1 large egg white
1 tbsp Chinese light soy sauce
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine***
1 tsp granulated sugar
1 tsp tapioca starch
½ tsp sesame oil
2 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp ground white pepper
8 oz black or blue tiger shrimp, shelled, deveined and finely chopped
2 tbsp minced pork fatback
¼ cup minced bamboo shoots
6 Napa cabbage or iceberg lettuce leaves
In a medium bowl, whisk together egg white, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, and sugar until egg white loosens and sugar dissolves completely. Whisk in tapioca starch, then sesame oil, and salt and pepper. Add shrimp, pork fatback, bamboo shoots and mix thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for about two hours to allow flavours to develop.
With each wrapper, make pleats**** on half of one side and pinch from opposite ends towards the centre to form a pouch. Place 1 ½ teaspoons of filling inside the pouch. Pinch the centre of the unpleated half and bring towards the centre of the pleated half. Fold dumpling sides in front of pleated side to secure filling.
Fill a wok with 2 or 3 inches of water and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, line a bamboo steamer with two Napa cabbage or iceberg lettuce leaves. Place dumplings on leaves about ¼-inch apart. Place bamboo steamer in the wok, cover securely, and steam until dumplings become translucent and filling turns pink, about 3 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately.
Makes about 40 dumplings.
* Not the same as AP flour--much finer, and very bleached. Haven't compared it to cake flour, but I do woner. Available in Asian stores
** Also available in Asian stores.
*** I use a Scotch for a substitute--learned this from a Chinese friend's old country popo (grandmother).
**** Pleats are a little hard to do. What I do is use the pointy end of a bamboo stick (you know, the little kabob kind you use for satays etc) to lift the dough up from the board, then I press each little tunnel to the side--voila, pleats!
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov