A har gau’s a poem, so poised, on a plate
With delicate shrimpies Oh how I love bait—
It’s for everyone’s benefit that I don’t write poetry. In Boston, of course, you can get dim-sum-type offerings day and night. Here in Madison, I have to wait until Sunday, and I’ve heard—let it not be true—that I must go to Chicago if I want any decent dim sum. I could not wait that long, so W. and I made our own last night. We made siu mai, the little gyoza-wrapped flower-buds of pork and shrimp; har gau, translucent-covered shrimp dumplings; and steamed Chinese broccoli with a little ginger and sesame.
W. had never tasted siu mai, let alone constructed them. But he gamely forged ahead and tapped his inner prowess at dumpling-making, and at the end learned how sublime they are. Several of those imaginary, never-to-exist odes of mine would certainly be to the ancient Chinese cook who first mixed pork and shrimp. What brilliance! What foresight! We are all blessed. Unless you keep kosher. We were debating last night whether you can have a double-unkosher meal.
I already knew about the sublimeness, but I hadn’t made har gau or any dumpling skins that are all starch, no gluten. Turns out it’s exactly like sticking balls of shrimp into Play-Doh. Once you have a look at Hasbro’s 1965 patent, “Plastic modeling compound of a soft, pliable consistency,” this makes a lot of sense.
Another ode right here: these skins, aside from having no undesirable lumps and being nice and soft and pliable, go magically translucent when cooked. So elegant, even if some of them crack and reveal their secret pink insides.
It is believed that the hydrocarbon distillate [such as kerosene; the dumpling dough uses bacon grease] forms a thin film coating around the solid particles of the composition to give the composition a nice soft pliable texture. The coated flour particles, when extended by moist heat will gelatinize with the other particles into a homogenous mass which is soft and pliable without forming undesirable lumps therein.