Here is another delicious mainstay of the tea ritual known as dim sum, and belongs to the class of dumplings enfolded with a wheat starch wrapper. The name in Cantonese is Gao Choi Ha Gao 韭菜虾饺, or simply Gao Choi Gau (In Mandarin, Jiu Cai xia Bao). You will find this steamed dumpling in almost every dim sum restaurant, although it will sometimes be formed into hockey-puck sized packets, and fried. In either case you'll know it by the intensely green vegetable showing through the translucent wrapper.
Like cilantro, Chinese garlic chives, jiu cai might strike some as an acquired taste. Once accustomed to its sharp and fragrant flavor, however, it becomes an essential sensation for lovers of dim sum.
12 oz prawn, peeled and deveined
12 oz garlic chives
1 egg white
2 med clove garlic, minced
1/4 rounded tsp white pepper
2 rounded tsp cornstarch
1 Tablespoon plus 1 tsp Shao Xing wine
1 tsp sesame oil
1 rounded tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 Cup wheat starch
1/2 Cup tapioca Starch
1 Tab Peanut oil
1/4 tsp salt
1 Cup boiling water
Dice half the prawns fine (appx 1/8"), and the other half large (appx 1/2") and set aside in a mixing bowl. Garlic chives are sold in bundles at Chinese groceries, and known by the names jiu cai (Mandarin), and gao choi (Cantonese); cut off 1 or 2 inches of the thickest (root) end, then chop into 1/2" sections. On med heat, Stir fry in a wok or sauté pan until wilted, about a minute. Allow to cool before adding to the prawns.
After adding the cooled chives to prawn, combine the remaining filling ingredients and mix very thoroughly with a rubber spatula. Refrigerate.
Sift the starches and salt into a mixing bowl; form a well in the powders, then add the oil. Pour the boiling water, measured with a pre-heated measuring cup, into the well and stir quickly but carefully with a rubber spatula. Scrape the sides as you mix, to incorporate all the ingredients. Form a ball of dough. As soon as you can handle the dough, knead it vigorously for a full 3 minutes, occasionally compressing the ball forcefully as you knead. (Wheat starch dough is firm to the gentle touch, but extremely malleable). This enthusiastic kneading is to insure that the starches and water and oil are smoothly and completely incorporated. Divide the dough into 3 pieces and let it rest in a plastic bag for 10 minutes or so. All the foregoing steps can be done ahead of time.
When ready to make dumplings, prepare your steamer with a parchment paper liner for the steamer tray—punch or cut 1/4” holes randomly in the paper to allow steam to pass through. Alternatively, liberally oil the steamer tray or use vegetable leaf to ensure the wheat starch wrapper does not stick after steaming. Allow the steamer water to boil, with the basket separate, ready to load dumplings.
Compress each ball of starch into a smooth, round shape and then roll on a flat surface to make a 1” dia. Rope. Put two ropes back in the plastic bag and cut the remaining into 1” segments. To make the skins: working on a high density polyethylene cutting board, place a piece of 4” square piece of parchment paper over the segment and flatten it one at a time with rolling pin, Chinese cleaver, or tortilla press (works great), making sure the skin is a uniform thickness of between 1/16” and 1/8". This disk will be slightly irregular in shape; you can proceed with making the dumplings and trim the excess with scissors if necessary, or cut the skin now to appx. 3-3/4"diam. (Traditionally, Gao Choi Gau is much larger than Ha Gau, which uses a circle 3-1/4" or less--) Use a cookie cutter, empty tin can or similar round object . You can make the skins all at once, if they are kept covered with plastic or damp cloth at room temperature.
The procedure for stuffing the dumplings can be the same as for pot stickers, but note that wheat starch dough is very delicate, and care must be taken not to puncture or tear the skins while filling. (Dim Sum chefs occasionally vary the pleat design of dumplings, and you may want to experiment with your own method).
Place the dumplings in the lined steamer tray, but do not allow them to touch each other. Put over the steamer, and cook for 6 to 7 minutes. Serve in the steamer or place on a serving dish when cool enough to handle. An accompanying dipping sauce is a nice touch, as is tea.