150 g prawns (shelled and deveined)
1 tsp spring onion (finely chopped) - white part only
1 tbsp water chestnuts (chopped)
1 tsp ginger (finely grated)
2 tbsp + 2 tsp tapioca starch
1½ cups wheat starch
2 tsp Shaoxing wine
1 tsp soy sauce
1 cup boiling water
A traditional Cantonese dumpling stuffed with prawns, Xia Jiao (most commonly known by its Cantonese name, “Har Gow”) is perhaps one of the world’s most famous dim sum dishes.
The first Har Gow appeared in Guangzhou during the Tang Dynasty. It was a well-known snack and breakfast item that was best enjoyed with a cup of warm tea.
Today, diners can enjoy this scrumptious dish at numerous chinese restaurants and dim sum houses in Southeast Asia. They are usually served in baskets of 4.
Epicures believe that Har Gow is the ultimate test of a chef’s culinary capabilities. Known for its smooth exterior as well as its juicy filling, nailing the perfect Har Gow requires precision. The skin of the dish needs paper-thin and there has to be a generous amount of filling. Chefs must also be careful not to overcook the Har Gow as the filling could get rubbery and tough.
The key to nailing the perfect Haw Gow is to ensure the filling is tightly sealed inside the dough before being cooked. This prevents water from entering the dumpling and diluting the prawn flavour.
Want to try your hand at the most iconic dim sum dish? Har Gow is perfect for a snack or side dish to complement other savoury dishes. Put your culinary skills to the test with our recipe today!
Traditional Har Gow “wheat starch dough” is made with a combination of oil, wheat starch and another type of starch (usually tapioca, corn or potato flour). The ideal wheat starch dough is fragile, supple and malleable.
Unfortunately, you probably would not be able to replicate the texture when you use other types of flour.
Between a bamboo steamer and stainless steel or plastic steamer, the former tends to absorb some of the moisture from the steam rather than letting it recondense and fall into the food. This prevents the dish from getting too soggy.
Stainless steel steamers also heat up much quicker than bamboo ones. If you intend to use a stainless steel steamer instead of a traditional bamboo one, just make sure you do not overcook the Har Gow.
The wheat starch dough can be prepped six hours ahead of cooking time. Avoid letting it dry out by storing it in a plastic bag at room temperature.
You could replace the prawns with firm tofu or shiitake mushrooms and use vegetable oil for a meat-free dish.
Use fresh prawns: fresh prawns have a crisp and supple texture that would make your Har Gow taste absolutely delightful. Stale ones, on the other hand, could make the Har Gow feel chalky and mushy.
Ensure the water is boiling: the temperature of the water makes a huge difference in the texture of the dough. Using boiling water prevents lumps from forming in your dough.
Coat kitchen equipment and work area with vegetable oil: the wheat starch dough is extremely sticky and can break apart very easily but covering your work station with vegetable oil could help you better manage the dough.
Devein the prawns before wrapping them in the dough: otherwise, there is no turning back after it has been wrapped securely!
Have extra starch within easy reach when preparing the dough: if the dough is too wet, you can stiffen it up immediately with some flour before it dries out.
| Having two sizes of prawn will result in a slight bite when eating the har gao, instead of a mush
| The oil on the cookie cutter ensures a clean cut, without dough sticking to the surface. If you do not have a cookie cutter, you may use a cup with a thin rim (ie paper cup) with a diameter of 4 inches.