One of London’s most exciting chefs, Michelin-starred Andew Wong shares his recipe for Har Gao, clear prawn dumplings with sweet & sour rice vinegar
“The dish came about while I was in Hong Kong sourcing furniture for the restaurant. I had seen a beautiful sofa from a company called Forbidden City and on a whim went over to their offi ce in Hong Kong in an attempt to beg them to give me a discount on the item.
Serendipity works in amazing ways and I gained far more than I could have ever bargained for on that visit, in that I met my now good friend Terry, who goes about his furniture in a very similar way to me with food: staying true to the cultural and historical heart of China while taking his art forward into the contemporary world.
It was his fearless approach to reinterpreting Chinese furniture design that gave me the courage to bring my own touches to the most famous dumpling across China, the har gao – a clear shrimp dumpling seen on every dim sum menu in the world.”
One thing that I have learned over the years making this pastry is that if you undercook the dough when adding the boiling water and it doesn’t have any elasticity, you can wrap it up in clingfilm and steam it for a minute before attempting to knead it again. But if you have overcooked the dough, save yourself the aggravation of trying to force dumpling skins out of it; throw the batch away and start again, adding the water a little slower this time.
Makes 20 dumplings
For the har gao prawn filling
• 250g peeled raw prawns
• 20g white vegetable fat
• 15g sugar
• 5g potato starch
• 1 teaspoon sesame oil
• 5g salt
• pinch of white pepper or
• 75ml ginger and spring onion water, made from the trimmings of fresh root ginger and spring onion crushed with the side of a large knife and mixed with water.
For the har gao pastry
• 110g wheat starch
• 110g tapioca flour
• 70g potato starch
• about 200ml boiling water
• 50ml vegetable oil
For the rice vinegar foam
• 200ml rice vinegar
• 100ml water
•3 tablespoons sugar
• 2 teaspoons soya lecithin
• Sweet chilli sauce (one of the really brightly coloured varieties as a mark of respect to the neon takeaway versions!), to serve
1 For the har gao prawn filling, place all the ingredients in an electric stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and knead for 10 minutes. (The dough hook binds the ingredients together without turning the mixture into a purée, which a blender would do.) Remove from the mixer and refrigerate until ready to use. Clean the mixer.
2 For the har gao pastry, follow the instructions to form the pastry skins and wrap the filling.
3 Steam the dumplings over a high heat for 5 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 60°C.
4 For the rice vinegar foam, warm all the ingredients in a pan and then blend with a stick blender until a foam forms.
5 To serve, brush the dumplings lightly with sweet chilli sauce and cover each with a tablespoon of foam before serving.
Step by step
1 Place the dry har gao pastry ingredients in a mixer fitted with a doughhook. With the machine running, slowly pour in enough of the boiling water, at a rate of 50ml every 45 seconds, until a dough forms. It is very important to add the water slowly to avoid overcooking the dough and making it overly stiff. When the dough is just moist enough to bind together, add the oil and knead for a further minute.
2 Transfer the dough to a wooden board and knead by hand for about 2–3 minutes until smooth and elastic.
3 Stretch and push the dough to check the elasticity. If not using immediately, wrap the dough tightly in clingfilm to prevent it drying out.
4 Remove a 100g section of the dough and roll into a long sausage shape. Keep the remaining dough tightly wrapped in clingfilm.
5 Divide the dough sausage into 5g portions and roll each into a ball, then push down on them with the palm of your hand to form rounds.
6 Using an oiled meat cleaver, draw the side of the blade over a dough round in an arching action to spread it into a 7cm-diameter circle – you will need to repeat the action several times before the dough is the required thickness (you should just be able to see through it).
7 Carefully scrape the dough off the board with the cleaver.
8 Place about 20g of the fi ling in the centre of the pastry circle.
9 Fold the pastry in half to cover the filling and press between your thumb and forefinger at the 12 o’clock position on the pastry circle just beyondthe filling to seal.
10 Starting from the left of this point, fold the pastry over at 5mm intervals to make 7 pleats around that side of the semicircle.
11 Repeat on the other side to make 6 pleats.
12 You should now have a total of 13 pleats, and each pleat should radiate from the central 12 o’clock position in a fan arrangement.
13 Seal the dumpling pleats by rotating the dumpling anticlockwise at a 45-degree angle and pressing the dough between your thumb and forefinger.
14 Use the cleaver to scrape off all the excess dough from the pleating in a single motion in order to create a clean, smooth edge.
15 You now have your finished har gao dumpling.
Recipe and image courtesy of Andrew Wong, chef owner of A Wong in Pimlico