Sunday, May 30, 2010

Spinach and Shrimp Dumplings

Dim sum is a family favorite.  It is not, however, something I make often. Dim sum is labor intensive and many of the dishes don't freeze well or otherwise lend themselves to being made in advance and reheated at the last minute.  Siu mai, pot stickers, and other dumplings that use a normal wheat flour skins can be made in advance and frozen, but those dishes that employ other skins simply don't do as well.  One dish that seems to be an almost universal favorite is har gow, shrimp dumplings.  I am also fond of the variation that includes spinach, so that is what I decided to make for this month's Weekend Wokking.

Tried as I might, I could not find a recipe for these.  So I just took a recipe for har gow and tweaked it by adding some blanched spinach.  The dumplings turned out well, and the spinach makes one feel virtuous.  It took about an hour from start to finish to make 18 dumplings.  That included blanching the spinach, peeling and deveining the shrimp, making and filling the skins, and steaming the dumplings. Like most everything savory, they go well with cocktails.

The recipes for the skins and the variation of the har gow filling  are from Ellen Blonder's Dim Sum.  I've referenced Blonder's books in previous posts; they contain a wealth of accessible, delicious recipes and are among my favorite cookbooks.  The recipes are written for the home cook, with clear instructions and wonderful illustrations.

A printable version of the recipe is available here.

Wheat Starch Skins
1 1/4 cups wheat starch
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup boiling water
1 heaping tsp oil

Stir dry ingredients together.  Add boiling water and oil.  Stir well to combine, then turn dough onto board lightly dusted with wheat starch and knead until smooth.  It's important to knead the dough while still hot to incorporate the starch thoroughly.  Roll into a long log and cut into 24 pieces.

To make a skin, use the broad blade of a Chinese cleaver to press one of the pieces of dough between two pieces of parchment.  A tortilla press would also work.  To get the circle of dough even thinner, you can use a rolling pin.  Press the edges of the circles with your fingers to get them a little thinner than the body of the skin.

Ideally, you should follow the illustrations from Dim Sum to make beautifully pleated skins.  I mostly took the lazy approach and just pleated the folded over dumplings to seal.  The lazy approach works, but the finished dumplings are not as attractive. 

Spinach and shrimp filling
9 ounces shrimp, peeled and deveined, chopped
2 cups baby spinach leaves, blanched in water for 20 seconds, plunged in ice bath, squeezed dry, and chopped
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp rice wine
3 TBS bamboo shoots, diced
1 TBS tapioca starch
1/2 tsp sesame oil

Combine all ingredients.  Place heaping teaspoons of the filling in the skins.  Fold skins around the filling, pleat to seal.

Lightly oil cake pan.  Place dumplings in the pan and steam over boiling water for about 10 minutes until the skins are translucent.  Serve warm.

I am entering this for Weekend Wokking, a blogging event that celebrates the different ways cooks use a common ingredient in their cooking.  This month's host is the creator of Weekend Wokking, Wandering Chopsticks.  This month's ingredient was spinach.  To see who's hosting next month and what the ingredient is, go here.


  1. I've always wondered how to make those wrappers. They're so nice, being see-through. =)

  2. Looks great I just had this over the weekend, I am sure they taste much better homemade.

  3. TS,
    The wrappers are also very easy to make. Give them a try sometime.

    Krissy and Daniel,
    Thanks. The great advantage of going out for dim sum is the variety of dishes. Cooking them at home, you are more limited. That's why I recommend them with cocktails.

  4. Wow, I've also always wondered how to make those delicious clear wrappers used in har gow. This looks great!

    Mmmm . . now I'm hungry for some dim sum!


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