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Grace Young's Shrimp Dumplings



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Shrimp Dumplings

The Wisdom of the Chinese
Kitchen: Classic Family Recipes
for Celebration and Healing

by Grace Young, 1999, Simon & Schuster

“When we were children, shrimp dumplings were our favorite dim sum dish.
The classic filling is shrimp and bamboo shoots. The dough is not difficult
to make, but it is very important that the water be boiling hot. If it is not
hot enough, the wheat starch will not cook and the dough will not work.
Wheat starch (dung fun) is only available in Chinatown; regular white
flour is not a substitute.
The tortilla press used here is excellent for making the dough into thin,
uniform rounds, but you can also make the dumplings by hand: Roll the
dough into scant 1-inch balls. Place one ball between your lightly floured
hands and press to form a circle. Press the dough evenly with your finger-
tips to make it as thin as possible, about 3 inches in diameter and a scant
1/8-inch thick.”

Makes about 40 dumplings. Serves 6 to 8 as part of a multicourse lunch.

8 ounces medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
3 1/2 teaspoons plus 1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 large egg white, beaten
1 teaspoon thin soy sauce
1 teaspoon Shao Hsing rice cooking wine
3/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 cup canned shredded bamboo shoots,
rinsed and finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely minced bacon fat
1 1/2 cups wheat starch (dung fun)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
8 large, flat, Napa cabbage leaves, about 1 pound

In a medium bowl, combine the shrimp and 2 teaspoons cornstarch. Let
stand for 10 minutes. Rinse in several changes of cold water and drain well.
Finely chop the shrimp and place in a medium bowl. Add the salt, egg
white, soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil, sugar, pepper, and 1 1/2 teaspoons
cornstarch. Stir in the bamboo shoots and minced bacon fat. Loosely wrap with plastic wrap and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the wheat starch and remaining 1/4 cup corn-
starch, and stir to combine. Make a well and add 1 cup boiling water,
immediately stirring with a rubber spatula as you add the water (the mix-
ture will have a faint fragrance of wheat starch). Stir in the vegetable oil.
Carefully begin working the mixture for a few seconds at a time by hand,
as mixture will be very hot. Add an additional 1 to 2 tablespoons boiling
water if dough is dry, and knead an additional 2 to 3 minutes, or until
smooth and still hot to the touch.
Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a cylinder about
8 inches long. Place 3 rolls in a plastic bag so they will not get dry. Cut the remaining roll into 10 pieces. Place each piece of dough between 2 sheets of lightly oiled foil, place the foil in a tortilla press, and press into a thin round. Peel off the round of dough; it should be about 3 inches in diameter and a scant 1/8 inch thick.
Place about 1 1/2 teaspoons of the filling in the center of a dough round.
Fold in half to form a half-moon and pinch one end of the half-moon together. Using your thumb and index finger, make 4 or 5 small pleats
in the front piece of dough, then pinch together the remaining end of
the dough to seal the dumpling. Place dumpling on a plate. Continue
making dumplings.
Line a bamboo steamer, metal tier, or rack with 2 cabbage leaves. Place
the dumplings on the leaves 1/4 inch apart. The dumplings should be
cooked in batches; the size of your steamer rack will determine how
many dumplings can be cooked at one time.
Bring water to a boil over high heat in a covered steamer. If using rack,
the water level must not touch the cabbage leaves. Carefully place the bamboo steamer, metal tier, or rack into the steamer, cover, and steam
5 minutes on high heat, or until the shrimp is orange and visible through
the translucent dough, and is just cooked. Check the water level and
replenish, if necessary, with boiling water. Carefully remove dumplings
from the steamer. Dumplings should be served immediately. Continue
steaming the remaining dumplings using fresh cabbage leaves and re-
plenishing the steamer with more boiling water.

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