Introduction: Har Gow Horrors - Shrimp Dumplings

Grim some dim sum. Tea time terror.

Yup, there is something not right with the food I eat.  You shouldn't find this on the menu at your favorite Chinese restaurant let alone on your plate.  Make these yum yum treats to serve to your high-class friends...low-class too.

Har gow are classic shrimp filled steamed dumplings usually served at dim sum, kinda like brunch.  They are one of the many treats you select from the rolling serving carts in restaurants that serve dim sum.   At the end of the meal, the waiters count up the used plates on your table to tally up your bill.  What's next,  rat's bird's nest soup?

And if you want more tea, you signal others to politely pour you a cup by scratching the table in a tapping motion, coincidence?

CAUTION: If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. If you are not allowed to use things like knives and the stove, teach your kids to cook.

NOTE: I did not make these in the shape of Mickey Mouse.  That would have been tasteless. Kids on the site, ya know.

Step 1: Scurry for Ingredients

For the filling,

I used frozen shrimp because that was handy.  The package says they are cleaned but that only means the intestinal tract was gutted out.  You still have to rip off the crawler legs, tail and shell.

I would prefer to use fresh shrimp and go for the better softer texture than you get with frozen shrimp.

 It doesn't really matter what size the shrimp is since you will chop it up for the filling. But don't use those tiny tiny shrimp though.

Additional for filling,
a bit of chopped bamboo shoot or water chestnut
it adds a little bit of crunch 


ground pepper - can use white pepper
have a few whole peppercorns to use for the "eyes", black sesame seeds or something similar would work.

cornstarch - just a bit to help the mass bind

any other seasonings - drop of wine or soy sauce, etc.

For the dumpling skin:
You may need to find an Asian market or visit a market with a good international selection of imported foodstuffs.

Tapioca Starch - this gives the skin its translucent property

Wheat Starch - this is not the same as regular wheat flour

a drop of oil to keep it from sticking

boiling water to mix

Step 2: Prep the Skin

Have a pot of boiling water ready.

Use the following proportion: (of course you can play around with the proportions since the magic number is 3.14159265 or some other ancient Chinese secret passed down by master chefs and grandmas alike.)

1 part tapioca starch (I used 1/2 cup)
3 parts wheat starch (I used 1 1/2 cups)

mix the dry ingredients in a bowl

put in a dash of salt
put in a splash of oil

Try putting in a few drops of soy sauce if you want to color the batch of dough so you don't have that ordinary lab rat look.

Mix the ingredients

Pour the hot water into the mix and stir with a spoon or fork.

Add just enough water to congeal the mass.  Give the starch a minute to absorb the water.

Gather the mass together as it forms into clumps.

This part is like making your own play-dough.  When it is bearable to touch, coat your hands with some oil to keep the dough from sticking.  Mash down and form a ball from all the bits in the bowl.  Knead by folding and pressing the mass several times.

You can now divide it into golf-ball sized pieces and place in an oiled bowl.

Cover the bowl with a cover or damp towel so the dough doesn't dry out or get hard while you are forming the har gow.

Lest rest for about 20 minutes.

 In the meantime, get your steamer up to boil.  I used a rice cooker with the steamer rack.  You could also use a big pot with a steamer rack and plate or those bamboo steamers.

Step 3: Play With Your Food

Roughly chop your shrimp.  I guess if you chop too fine and have mush, you might as well go with Plan B and make shrimp toast, another dim sum favorite.

Toss together your filling ingredients and mix thoroughly in the bowl.

Grab a ball of dough and start forming the tail by rolling a strand of dough.

With the rest of the ball, flatten out to a thin disk.

There are many ways to do this, you can place the dough between plastic wrap and flatten with a rolling pin, can, base of a pot or smushed with a cleaver if you've got skillz.

With us, it was traditionally done with a heavy iron from my parent's Chinese Hand Laundry days or the more modern tortilla press(made in China).

I just pressed it out with my fingers and evened it out by looking through it at a light to see the thicker sections.

Press the tail on to the disk.

Put a spoonful of filling on the disk.

Wrap up the sides to meet in the center lengthwise.  Pinch the dough together so it sticks.

Try to pleat the dough where the legs and arms would be.  You then have an extra bit of dough to form the legs and arms.

Pinch the front and massage the stuffing to form the point shape of the front of the animal.

Roll it over.

Place two peppercorns to use as the eyes.

Use a fork to add details like the little claws on the feet and hands.  Maybe detail the mouth. 

Pinch some dough to form some ears.

Step 4: Trip to the Sauna

These are cooked by steaming in a hot pot.

Place the formed dumplings on a piece of parchment paper, a leaf of cabbage, or a leaf of lettuce like I did.  It helps you retrieve them since the dough will stick to the pot.

Put them in the steamer. 

Steam for about 10 -12 minutes.

Keep an eye on them, when they turn translucent and you see the shrimp turn a cooked pink/orange color, they will be done.  Overcooking makes the skins mushy.

Plate up and serve with soy sauce.

Pick out the peppercorns before eating since they will be too strong a flavor if bitten into.

Be the first on your block to serve Halloween Fusion food.  Bon Appetit!

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