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How to Make Har Gow (Shrimp Dumplings) at Home

February 18, 2010 8 comments

Har gow — shrimp dumplings — dipped in soy sauce with chili paste are tiny flavorful umami bombs.

Dim Sum: The Art of Chinese Tea Lunch has a cool recipe for homemade har gow. Making the shrimp filling is quick and easy but making the dumpling wrappers from scratch is a bit challenging.  From making the dough to forming the wrappers, the process is somewhat tedious.  If you don’t have the luxury of time, you can use Asian-store-bought dumpling wrappers instead; but if you do, I assure you that your efforts will be rewarded with tasty homemade dumplings.

Making the filling

8 ounces medium-sized shrimp, peeled and deveined, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 Tbsp minced bamboo shoots
1/2 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp rice wine (optional)
1/8 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/4 tsp ginger, grated
1 tsp cornstarch
1 egg white

Mix the ingredients for the filling thoroughly. Set aside.

Making the wrapper

1 1/4 cup wheat starch (wheat starch is different from wheat flour)
1/4 cup tapioca starch (tapioca starch is the same as tapioca flour)
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup boiling water
1 tsp canola oil
parchment paper

In a medium bowl. combine the wheat starch, tapioca starch, and salt. Here is an important note: wheat starch is different from wheat flour but tapioca starch is the same as tapioca flour. I got my wheat and tapioca starch from the local Asian store.

Add the boiling water and canola oil and stir well with a wooden spoon. Transfer the dough while it is still hot onto a clean surface dusted with wheat starch. Knead until smooth, adding a little more wheat starch, if necessary. The dough should be soft but not sticky.

Divide the dough into four equal parts. Use your palms to roll each part into an 8-inch log. Cut each log into 8 pieces. Place the pieces, together with the rest of the dough, in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to keep them moist.

Making the Dumpling Dough

Flatten each piece of dough into a round dumpling wrapper. Cut 6-inch square sheets of parchment paper. Place a piece of dough in between two sheets of parchment paper. Using a knife or the bottom of a flat pan press down on the dough to flatten the dough. Then using a rolling pin or the round end of a wooden spoon, roll out the dough further to make it larger and thinner. Rolling it too thin makes it too fragile and easy to break. The round dumpling wrapper should be at least 3 to 4 inches in diameter.

Making Round Dumpling Wrappers

Peel off the parchment paper. Place the wrappers in a separate bowl and cover with plastic wrap to keep them moist while you continue working on the rest of the batch. Alternatively, keep the wrappers in between two sheets of parchment paper.

Making the dumpling

Working with the wrapper to make the dumpling is the trickiest part. Rolling the wrapper to get the right thickness — neither too thick nor too thin –- is key but wrapping the filling requires a certain technique, which can only be learned and mastered through practice. Form each dumpling wrapper into a cup with overlapping pleats on one side. Dennis learned pleating rather quickly; I honestly didn’t and made unpleated cups instead. The important thing to remember is to form the wrapper into a cup that you can fill. If you go the pleated route, remember to leave about 1/3 of the circumference of the wrapper without pleats.

Making Shrimp Dumplings

Spoon about a teaspoon of the shrimp filling into the pocket and keep the filling from touching the open edge of the wrapper. Close the wrapper by pressing the edges of the wrapper together, forming a half circle.

I recommend making the wrappers in the whole batch first and then make dumplings.

Place each dumpling in a steamer and make sure to leave enough space so that they do not get too crowded. I steamed half a dozen dumplings in an 8-inch bamboo steamer,

Making Har Gow or Shrimp Dumplings

Set up your steamer and bring the water to a boil. Steam the dumplings over high heat for 7 minutes. Let the dumplings rest for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy with your favorite tasty beverage. Dennis prefers a tall cold glass of Diet Dr. Pepper while I prefer a glass of tasty pinot noir.

Making Har Gow or Shrimp Dumplings

Top Eight Favorite Dim Sum Plates

February 16, 2010 2 comments

From savory dumplings dipped in soy sauce and chili paste to sweet deep-fried sesame balls, here are my top eight picks for my favorite dim sum plates. What’s on your list?

Dumplings and Bao

1. Har Gow — shrimp dumpling

2. Spinach shrimp dumpling

Har Gow (Shrimp Dumpling)

3. Chicken feet with black bean sauce

4. Bee’s nest taro puff — fried taro dumpling

Bee's Nest Taro Puff

5. Shiu mai — pork dumplings with diced mushroom

6. Char siu bao — steamed barbecue pork buns (click here to learn how to make baos from scratch)

Char Siu Bao

7. Custard tart

8. Deep-fried sesame seed ball with sweet red bean paste

Deep-fried Sesame Ball

Where can you enjoy fresh and great-tasting dim sum in the Bay Area?

Koi Palace
365 Gellert Blvd
Daly City, CA 94015
650.992.9000
koipalace.com

Yank SIng
101 Spear Street between Howard Street and Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
415.957.9300
yanksing.com

City View
662 Commercial Street between Kearny Street and Montgomery Street
San Francisco, CA 94111
415.398.2838

Crabs in Clement and Crab Cakes in the Castro

January 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Where do you get Dungeness crabs in the city?

The first place that comes to mind is, obviously, Fisherman’s Wharf teeming with seafood street vendors and restaurants.   But the Wharf gets extremely crowded most of the time unless you go on a rainy weekday.  A great alternative is the city’s Asian supermarkets.  There’s certainly Chinatown, but there are two new cool neighborhood discoveries I recently made: Clement Street in Inner Richmond and Manila Oriental Market in Excelsior.  Start at Clement and Arguello, walk westward down Clement and you’ll hit a goldmine of all things Asian.  And there’s Manila Oriental Market along Mission Street in Excelsior, a place that definitely reminds me of home with aisle after aisle of Asian goodies like oyster sauce, tapioca starch, bibingka mix, dumpling wrappers, saba bananas, fresh whole fish and, of course, live crabs.

Manila Oriental Market in Excelsior

And if you feel like indulging in Dungeness crab cakes but don’t have the luxury of time to make them, where do you go for crab cakes in the city?

Here’s another surprising discovery: the Castro.  Instead of taking the cable car to Fisherman’s Wharf, hop on the Muni and head over to the Castro and enjoy delicious crab cakes either at Woodhouse Fish Company along Market Street or Anchor Oyster Bar along Castro Street.  Their cakes are fresh and tasty.

Crab Cakes at Woodhouse Fish Company

Here are more information about the supermarkets and restaurants mentioned in this blog.

Where to buy Dungeness crabs

Wing Hing Seafood Market
633 Clement St between 7th Avenue and 8th Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94118
415.668.8986

Richmond New May Wah Superemarket
707-719 Clement Street and 8th Aveue
San Francisco, CA 94118
415.221.9826

Manila Oriental Market
4175 Mission St between Ney and Trumbull Streets
San Francisco, CA 94112
415.337.7272

Where to enjoy Crab Cakes

Woodhouse Fish Company
2073 Market St between 14th and Reservoir Streets
San Francisco, CA 94114
415.437.2722

Anchor Oyster Bar
579 Castro St between 18th and 19th Streets
San Francisco, CA 94114
415.431.3990

How to Make Dungeness Crab Cakes at Home

January 26, 2010 1 comment

It’s Dungeness crab season in San Francisco and there’s no better way to enjoy these tasty crustaceans than to make crab cakes! Alice Waters has a great simple recipe for crab cakes in her amazing book The Art of Simple Food.

Making homemade crabcakes is an excellent example of why homecooking is so cool: you actually know what ends up in your plate because you made it yourself.  Most of the time I wonder how much crabmeat there is in the crab cakes I get when I dine out.  Get the best crabmeat, pick the freshest herbs, make your own breadcrumbs and if you’re a little adventurous, make your own mayonnaise from scratch! Fresh ingredients plus a simple recipe equals great-tasting food.

Crab Cakes

1 lb crabmeat (picked from 2 Dungeness crabs)
1 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp chopped chives
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
2 Tbsp chopped chervil
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt and cayenne to taste
1-1/2 cups breadcrumbs (click here to learn how to make fresh breadcrumbs)
5 Tbsp unsalted butter (click here to learn how to make clarified butter)

Cooking the crabs

Boil salted water in a large pot and then carefully drop in the Dungeness crabs. Two Dungeness crabs will yield roughly a pound of crabmeat but use as many blue crabs or other crabs as needed to yield the same.  Boil for 15 minutes.  Remove the crabs from the pot and let them drain and cool.

Pull off the large top shell, remove the fibrous lungs and rinse lightly.

Cracking the Crab Open

Split the main body in half down the center.  Pull off the legs, crack them, and pick the crabmeat from the body and legs.  Big chunks of crabmeat are good for texture. Put the crabmeat in a bowl and gently go through the meat to remove any bits of shell left in the meat.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Picking the Crabmeat

Making the cakes

Stir the chives, parsley, chervil, lemon juice, salt and cayenne into the mayonnaise and mix thoroughly.  Let me make a note that chervil is pretty difficult to find. Even the local Whole Foods does not normally carry them.  If you find yourself chervil-less, don’t worry I think you’ll be fine without it.

Stir the mayonnaise into the crabmeat, mix gently but thoroughly. Taste and add more lemon juice and salt as needed. Form the mixture into patties. I ended up making six 3-inch diameter cakes.  Roll the patties to coat in the breadcrumbs.

Forming the Patties

Warm a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat.  Pour in the clarified butter (click here to learn how to make clarified butter) and when the butter is hot, carefully add the crab cakes and fry until golden brown, about 4 minutes on each side. If the breadcrumbs start to burn, turn down the heat.

Simple Crabcakes

A cool variation to this dish is to use fish fillet to make fish cakes.  Waters recommends using a firm white fish like halibut, haddock or ling cod.  Use two cups of chopped fish fillet in place of the crabmeat.

How to make fresh bread crumbs

Breadcrumbs are best made from bread that has been dried out for a day or two.  For breading and frying, Waters recommends using white bread.  First, remove the crust. Cut the crustless bread into cubes and grind up the bread in batches using a food processor or a blender.  The bread should be ground up thoroughly so the crumbs are more or less the same size.  Crumbs for breading need to be ground very fine, so they will stick to and evenly coat whatever is being breaded.

How to make clarified butter

Melt unsalted butter in a small heavy pot over medium heat.  Cook the butter until it has spearated and the milk solids are just turning a light golden brown.  Pour through a fine strainer to remove the milk solids.

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