Don’t Ha ve a Gao, it’s just the inspiration for the March Deep Plate entry

Ha Gao on Bauscher March Entry Plate

Terrible puns aside,  I have been wanting to make these little shrimp Dim Sum treasures for over 6 years now.  Chinese New Year issuing the year of the Tiger seems an appropriate time.  Ha Gao are made from a wheat starch dough and can sometimes be cut with tapioca flour.

One of my must stops in San Francisco, is Yank Sing, a Dim Sum restaurant.  I don’t even think of the price and just grab whatever catches my eye when they come by with their cart.  I’m sure many locals might recommend cheaper places in Chinatown (I’m all ears) and it seems like Yank Sing has a  feel that is more catered to Westerners.  Regardless, it is amazing and you can tell it is at the height of freshness.  One of my favorites is the shrimp dumpling or Ha Gao.  I love that you can see the cooked shrimp through the thin translucent glutinous wrapping.  It kind of breaks the limitations of a traditional ravioli where you have no idea the surprise that lies inside.  There is a leap of faith in a traditional ravioli.  I have taken that leap with less than satisfactory results at some restaurants and overwhelming deep sustaining blissful delight at others.

During the IACP conference, Andoni Aduriz, presented a dish he described as the thinnest new pea ravioli ever.  The tiny peas were wrapped in a completely thin transparent veil of poaching liquid.  He had created a dish that has the sensation of a ravioli but was completely transparent.

Andoni's pea ravioli

Ferran Adria also has taken this concept even further by creating his Olive Oil Sphere.  Spanish EVOO mixed with a hydrocolloid and then dropped into a calcium rich water bath which allows it to form a membrane as thin as the one around an egg yolk.

My hope was just to replicate the thin transparent wrapper I got at Yank Sing.  Not so easy as I was to find out.

Following the recipe presented on a package can lead to unusable results.

Look at the recipe. The big white log beside the package is what I eventually came up with

If you follow the above recipe you end up with great papier maché mix.  The ratio I came up with to create the above white log is 1 cup of wheat starch to 3/4 cup of boiling liquid.  I would be nice to know if that is the ideal ratio.

I then rolled the tube into a longer tube of 1 1/2″ in diameter and cut the tube into 1 inch thick medallions.  My children thought they were marshmallows.

Individual medallions of dough for the Ha Gao

I then took my Chinese cleaver and pressed those medallions into as thin a wrapper as possible.  I pleated the top edge, filled the cup with my shrimp filling and sealed the two edges.  Easier said than done as the dough can break apart if you are not careful.

Pleated top edge of dumpling and filling

A long time ago a friend and co-worker at CSR,  Chris Clarke,  gave me a stack of small metal dumpling steamers.  I was finally able to put those to use.  I cut out some wax paper to put on the inside and sprayed it with vegetable spray so they didn’t stick.  I have a small French copper sauce pot that the steamer inserts fit into perfectly.  I put in about a cup of water, brought it to a boil and placed my stack on top.  It took about ten minuted for them to cook.  The dough became somewhat translucent (with more practice I could make them thinner) and became firm.

They were quite good, but I have a way to go to replicate the ones at Yank Sing.  I would probably have to make 20,000 before I could get anywhere close to the speed of a guy I saw on You Tube.

Here is the picture I will submit to Deep Plate for the upcoming March entry.

The Recipe: Yield 24 dumplings

2 Cups of wheat starch (see above brand)

1 1/2 Cup of boiling water

2 tsp. canola oil

1 tsp. salt

Mix all dry ingredients, add oil then pour the boiling water in a little at a time.  Bring together as a dough and knead to get a nice homogeneous dough.  Roll into a log 1 1/2″ in diameter and then cut into 24 x 1″ thick medallions.  Cover them with plastic wrap to keep them from drying out.  Use a Chinese cleaver to flatten them or a rolling pin.  Get them as thin as possible, but still workable.  Pleat the top edge to create a pocket, fill with shrimp mix and seal into a crescent shape.

Filling:

1 lb. peeled and veined shrimp

1 T. finely minced garlic

1 T. finely minced fresh ginger root

3 T. soy sauce

2 T. rice wine vinegar

1 tsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. Sambal Oelek

1 bunch of scallions finely chopped

1 T. chopped cilantro

Mix together in a bowl:  soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sambal, sugar, garlic, ginger, green onion and cilantro.  Chop the peeled and veined shrimp into small pieces and mix with the above mix.

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