DIM SUM MONTH: Crystal shrimp dumpling w/ shrimp oil mayo

EXACTLY WHAT DIM SUM IS SUPPOSED TO, BUT SOMEHOW FORGOTTEN TO BE,

LITERALLY, AS TO TOUCH HEART

Welcome to DIM SUM MONTH!

WHAT:  I’m dedicating this whole month to the delicate art that is dim sum.

WHY:  I’m slowly and painfully realizing how scarce a good, thoughtful and delicious dim sum can be.  Even in Hong Kong – the supposedly promised land of dim sum – I found my expectation being shattered with sloppy, tired, and borderline unethical display of dimness.  Frankly, I’m fed up.

HOW:  Just as unfamiliar as most of you are in terms of making dim sum, I’m going to show you that it is possible for us to create these little baskets of happiness at home.  We are going to take each conventional dim sum item, and mix them with a bit of thoughtfulness and fun.  Almost every items can be made ahead of time, and hopefully at the end of the month, we’ll be able to host our own dim sum party that is more awesome than most.

Let’s start with the classic of the classics – crystal shrimp dumplings.

We are going to correct all of its frequently ignored mistakes: soggy and texture-less wrappers, and frankly, boringness.  This recipe will yield a wrapper that is beautifully translucent, shiny, and just a bit bouncy to the bite, filled with a generous amount of whole tiger shrimps held together by fatty ground pork.  Last but not least, a small dollop of mayonnaise made with shrimp oil and thickened up with cashew butter, will knock this out of the park.

It is a single bite that embodies a carnival of senses: textures, flavors, esthetics and imaginations.  Which is exactly what dim sum is supposed to, but somehow forgotten to be, literally, as to touch heart.

* UPDATE 02/18/2017:  Some readers have commented that their dough tears and was hard to handle.  I’ve tested this recipe again and again, and it works out fine every time.  The dough should be just slightly sticky after kneading.  If your dough tears, it might be that it is too wet, or too dry.  I’ve added a few lines in the instruction to help clarify.  KEEP IN MIND THAT THE DOUGH IS THE EASIEST TO WORK WITH RIGHT AFTER IT’S MADE.  You can plastic-wrap it for up to 2 hours MAX before forming the dumplings, but anything longer than that, the dough will become wetter and wetter, and will tear.  

CRYSTAL SHRIMP DUMPLING W/ SHRIMP OIL MAYO

Yield: Appox 15~16 dumplings depending

For this recipe, I strongly recommend measuring the ingredients by weight, especially for the dough.

Ingredients

    SHRIMP OIL MAYO:
  • Heads and shells from 13~15 medium-size shrimps
  • 5 slices (20 grams) ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 tsp ground paprika
  • 3/4 cup (168 grams) canola oil
  • 1 large yolk
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp fish sauce, plus more to adjust
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard
  • 3/4 tsp grated ginger
  • 1/4 cup (60 grams) unsweetened cashew butter, or almond butter
  • SHRIMP FILLING:
  • 3.5 oz (100 grams) fatty ground pork
  • 1 tbsp egg white
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt, plus more to adjust
  • 1/8 tsp ground white pepper
  • 12.7 oz (360 grams) peeled/cleaned small~medium tiger shrimp (see note!)
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • CRYSTAL DUMPLING WRAPPER: (updated 02/18/2017)
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp (150 grams) wheat starch
  • 1/4 cup +3 tbsp (50 grams) tapioca starch
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tsp (133 grams) boiling water
  • 1 tbsp (14 grams) canola oil

Instructions

  1. MAKE SHRIMP OIL MAYO: Combine shrimp heads and shells, ginger, garlic, paprika and canola oil in a small pot. Use a scissor to cut all the ingredients into small pieces, then bring to a boil over medium heat. Continue to cook for about 5 min, stirring occasionally, until the shells are starting to brown. Add 2 tsp of water, scraping the sides and bottom of the pot to release any brown bits, then turn off the heat. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as you can, then discard the solids. Chill the oil in the fridge until completely cold.
  2. In a large mortar, grind yolk, lemon juice, fish sauce, yellow mustard and grated ginger together. Slowly (1 tsp at a time) drizzle the cold shrimp oil into the mixture while whisking constantly to form an emulsion. Once all the oil has been added, you should have a loose mayonnaise. Now stir in the cashew butter to form a thicker paste, and re-season with fish sauce. Can be made the day before and kept in the fridge.
  3. If your mayonnaise is broken during the process, DON'T PANIC. In another bowl, mix 1 more yolk and a bit of lemon juice together, then bit by bit, whisk the broken mayonnaise into the yolk-mixture to re-establish an emulsion.
  4. MAKE SHRIMP FILLING: In a food-processor, grind fatty ground pork, egg white, sea salt and white pepper together until a paste has formed. Add 5~6 peeled shrimp and grind again until the mixture is thick and bouncy. Transfer to a large bowl, then add the rest of the shrimps, cornstarch and sesame oil. Re-season with more sea salt, then mix until evenly incorporated and coated.
  5. MAKE CRYSTAL WRAPPER: In a large bowl, whisk together wheat starch, tapioca starch and salt. Pour in the boiling water and stir with a fork to form a lumpy mixture. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 10 min. Now add the canola oil, and knead the mixture until it's soft and smooth. The dough should be pliable and just barely sticky. If it's dry and crumbly, add 1 tsp more warm water. *
  6. You MUST make the dumplings within a couple hours after the dough is made. If you wrap the dough and refrigerate overnight, the texture will change and it will be ver hard to work with (it will tear easily).
  7. MAKE DUMPLING: Divide the dough into 15~16 equal balls and cover with plastic wrap. DUST THE DOUGH SLIGHTLY WITH MORE WHEAT STARCH TO PREVENT STICKING. Roll 1 ball into a thin sheet then cut with a 3" (8 cm) round cutter. Place about 1 1/2 tbsp of filling in the middle, then bring the sides upwards together and pinch together into 4 corners. Repeat with the rest. The dumplings can be made ahead of time. Kept in an air-tight container and kept in the freezer (not fridge!).
  8. STEAM/SERVE THE DUMPLING: Inside a steamer, place each dumplings on top of a thin slice of carrot (to prevent sticking). Steam on high heat for 5 min for unfrozen dumplings, and 8 min for frozen ones. Serve immediately with a small dollop of shrimp oil mayo on each dumplings. A tiny squeeze of lemon juice and a few dusting of lemon zest brings everything together.

Notes

A mindful reader (see comments) reminded all of us the importance of responsible eating. Please try your best to buy from sustainable source when it comes to seafoods, and in this case, tiger shrimps. Thanks!

Once the dumplings are made, they can be kept in air-tight containers inside THE FREEZER. If you want to make them more than a couple days ahead of time, I would suggest after they are frozen hard, transfer them into a vacuum bag (to prevent frost). Then steam right before serving.

http://ladyandpups.com/2017/02/06/dim-sum-month-crystal-shrimp-dumpling-w-shrimp-oil-mayo/

37 Comments

  • This looks amazing and is probably absolutely delicious. But please, make sure to only buy certified ORGANIC tiger prawns. The regular tiger prawn industry is an environmental nightmare and totally unsustainable. It has also led to increase in poverty.
    Mandy, please make a note in the recipe to only use environmental friendly prawns!

    With that said, thanks for a great blog. I made the grilled cheese with chicken leg confit last Friday. Heaven on a plate!

  • I’ve had dumplings and dim sum on the brain too lately! I wanted to post up a few recipes this month but haven’t been able to spend much time in the kitchen due to an injury. I look forward to seeing what all you post up and adding some new tricks and tips to my repertoire!

  • Good dim sum is SO hard to find, even when I lived in Toronto where they have loads of good Chinese food, there were very few truly above-average dim sum places. In San Diego right now I can (perhaps uncharitably but honestly) say that there are exactly zero decent dim sum restaurants.

    It’s not something I would have ever thought to attempt at home before so I just resigned myself to waiting for the next time I’m in China for. But this seems….doable? Especiallyyy intrigued by this shrimp and nut butter combo mayo (is it just for the texture or …?)!

  • wow, stunning pictures! i said before i wouldn’t even attempt them but your recipe makes it seem pretty doable so i might just give it a whirl after all. oh boy, i cannot WAIT to see what else you have in store this month!!!

    thanks for putting out such great content and good luck with the Shorty Award, ya got my vote fore shore.

    Karin

  • We are Kindred souls. This is the only blog that 98% of what you do I want to cook. A normal food blog, 15%. And I can bet I have cooked more things from this blog that the top 20% of your fans. You are my hero. And Dim Sum month is an answer to prayers. love Jason

  • I would make this just for the shrimp mayo!! Yummy! I am going to try this.

    I figured out what wheat starch is in Japanese: 浮き粉 or ukiko. Cool. Easily available here.
    Tapioca starch タピオカ粉 seems to be available, but I bet I could use 片栗粉 katakuriko. Also easily available here.
    What do you think, Mandy?

    • Pamela, tapioca starch and cornstarch (片栗粉) is not the same! tapioca starch yields a much chewier texture, where cornstarch is soft. but if you can’t find tapioca starch (I usually buy the Thai imported ones, but Taiwan exports them, too), try cornstarch but keep in mind that the texture won’t be as bouncy.

  • I feel like you deserve some kind of national award for this post! you are a gift to cuisine, truly.

  • I totally agree with you that dimsum (even here in Toronto) has been more and more subpar and not a lot of care goes into it anymore, which makes me a bit sad. Thank you for this post. For the longest time I was always intimidated with making a the bouncy skinned dumplings, and the closest thing to anything chewy and bouncy I ever made was the chiu chow mung bean desserts with the chewy cubes but now with your step by step I think I can do this! Good luck on the awards! :)

  • Recipe looks amazing. Is it possible to make the wrapper with all tapioca or another flour to make it gluten free?

  • I prefer a more shrimp forward filling, so I made mine with Tiger shrimp and boiled fat back instead of ground pork. I tried your ratios for the dough and found it to be so difficult to work with. I could barely lift the rounds off the floured/oiled counter without tearing it. Your recipe for the skins steamed up beautifully, though. I tried converting to a 50:50 ratio of tapioca to wheat starch and the extra elasticity is very welcome in the forming process and very pleasant in the eating process. I would recommend that to any home cook trying to tackle these at home who is having trouble with the dough.

    • Irene, sorry your dough didn’t work out well. It sounds like it was too wet. Did you measure by weight or volume? I would strongly suggest measuring by weight (grams). That being said, flours could differ, too, but I’m glad you worked out a solution you’re happy with. Cheers!

      • I just tested the dough again with the precise measurement in weight, and it still worked out fine. I would backtrack from saying your dough was too wet, instead, I think it’s more likely that it was too dry (therefore cracks?). Add a tsp more water and see if that helps. This is the exact brand of wheat starch I used for referrence: https://goo.gl/images/zNFB4N

        • Wow! thanks for the follow up! Incidentally, that is the precise brand I used too. My dough was very supple and did not crack. A lot of posts I see about Har Gow shows people rolling them out of a wooden surface. I don’t have anything wood, so maybe it just had a tendency to stick to the ultra smooth surface of my counter.

  • Hello! I gave this a go, weighed everythjng and had similar delicacy issues. Almost impossible to form without tearing. Also when it came to steaming the sides all flopped out so they totally lost their shape. Any tips on where I might have gone wrong, please?

  • Hmm, possibly too dry since it was cracking too. Maybe atmosphere is drier in London too which contributes. Any ideas on the flopping of the sides? Do you just pinch really tight? Thanks!

  • I tried the dough again bearing in mind that it was too dry last time, and it worked a treat. I used 140ml water and roughly 3 extra tablespoons, so I’m sure it must be difference in climate that gave that variance!

    • Abby, you mean to give it to friends? You can certainly double the recipe, freeze them, THEN give them to friends as FROZEN. But do not keep them at room-temperature OR in the fridge. The wrapper will get very soggy.

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