Shanghai Steamed Dumplings

Andrew Wong

Andrew Wong

7th April 2017
Andrew Wong

Shanghai Steamed Dumplings

Here's my recipe for Shanghai Steamed Dumplings, available in my restaurant A Wong, which has three Rosettes from the AA Restaurant Guide.

If ever there was a dish that encapsulated the very phrase ‘dim sum’, meaning ‘to touch the heart’, this would undoubtedly be it. This is a seemingly ordinary dumpling that frequently suffers an injustice by restaurants treating it with heavy-handedness. When done correctly, it is 18 pleats of sheer skill, ultimate precision and Chinese culinary perfection. The pastry skin should be wafer thin, with just enough elasticity to allow the dumpling to be picked up with chopsticks without popping, and the inside should be an AK-47 of flavour, generated from a pork mixture suspended in a rich pork broth.


  • For the pork stock jelly:
  • 4 pigs’ trotters, cut in half crossways
  • skin of 1 pork belly
  • 2 kg pork bones
  • 6 litres cold water
  • 300 ml Shaoxing rice wine
  • 100g fresh root ginger, roughly chopped
  • 100g spring onion, roughly chopped
  • 5 tablespoons powdered gelatine
  • For the marinated pork mince:
  • 300g minced pork belly
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder
  • 100ml ginger and spring onion water
  • For the pastry:
  • 500g high-gluten flour plus extra for dusting
  • 250ml water
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • For the filling:
  • 300g pork stock jelly
  • 100g marinated pork mince
  • 100g Chinese chives, chopped, plus extra to garnish
  • For the pickled tapioca pearls to garnish:
  • 50ml Chinese red vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sweetened black vinegar plus extra if needed
  • 2g peeled fresh root ginger, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Rehydrated Tapioca Pearls
  • For the ginger vinegar to garnish:
  • 100ml red vinegar
  • 20ml sweetened black vinegar
  • 5g peeled fresh root ginger, very finely sliced


For ginger vinegar to garnish:
Bring all the ingredients to the boil in a non-reactive pan, then leave them to cool and allow the ginger to infuse overnight. Strain out the ginger and store in a sterilised airtight container in a cool, dry place for upto a month.
For the pork stock jelly:
Place the pigs’ trotters, pork skin and pork bones in a very large pan of cold water and bring tothe boil. Boil for 5 minutes, then drain and rinse under cold running water. This process will cleanse the bones and eliminate any nasty smells further down the line. Clean the pan. Return the trotters, skin and bones to the cleaned pan with the cold water and bring to the boil, skimming off any scum (impurities) that rise to the surface from time to time. Add the wine, ginger and spring onion and gently simmer for 5 hours. The liquid will have decreased by one-third through evaporation and look a little thicker. Strain the fluid through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean container. Stir in the powdered gelatine, leave to cool, then refrigerate until set.
For the marinated pork mince:
Mix ingredients together.
For the pastry:
Sift the flour onto a dry work surface and make a small well in the middle. Mix the water and oil together and slowly add to the flour, mixing while you pour. The resulting dough should be quite dry to the touch. If the dough seems a bit damp, try wrapping it tightly in clingfilm and chilling in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to firm up. But never add more flour to it or you end up with a crumbly dough that won’t work for wrapping. Knead the dough for around 10 minutes until smooth and stiff. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
For the filling:
Before using the jelly, scrape the layer of fat off the surface with a spoon and discard. Whatever you do, don’t be lazy and add the fat to your dumpling mixture, otherwise it will result in a greasy broth. Using a sharp knife, finely dice the jelly. You can pulse it in a food processor until it is minced, but make sure you don’t over process it or the blades of the machine will get hot and begin to melt it. Add the jelly to the mince mixture with the Chinese chives and mix well using your hands. Due to the high proportion of jelly you should not be able to see much minced pork when mixed, but don’t get cold feet and begin to add more meat at this point, otherwise you will end up with a dumpling that has a massive meatball sitting inside the pastry and definitely not the delicate result you’re looking for.
To make the dumpling:
Divide your rested dough in half, then rewrap one half in clingfilm and refrigerate until needed. Pull the dough into a long sausage shape about 2cm in diameter. Cut the dough sausage into 5g portions – around 2cm-thick slices. Lay the slices out flat on a lightly floured work surface, then push down on them with the palm of your hand to form rounds. Using a small rolling pin, lightly roll the outside of a pastry round into a 6.5cm-diameter circle so that the centre is thicker than the edge. Keep the rolling pin at a right angle to your body at all times, rotating the pastry instead of the rolling pin. Place 16g of the filling in the centre of the pastry circle. Form a cavity with your hand by bringing your forefinger and the other fingers round to meet your thumb. Rest the pastry and filling over the cavity and, using the end of the rolling pin, push the filling and
pastry down into the cavity. Using your other hand, lift the pastry at the 3 o’clock position and pinch it together with the dough 3mm from it clockwise on the circle to form your first pleat. Repeat this process (11-19) at 3mm intervals all the way round the pastry to pleat it around the filling. When your pleats have completed a 360-degree rotation, ensure that the excess pastry ispointing upwards, so that you can seal up the dumpling. Continue to pleat even after you have completed a full rotation to give you a neat point to the top of your dumpling. You now have finished Shanghai dumpling ready for steaming. Steam the dumplings over a high heat for 4-5 minutes – the more filling they contain, the longer the cooking time.
For the pickled tapioca pearls:
Mix all the ingredients together in a non-reactive bowl. Using a fork, lightly loosen the tapioca pearls within the sauce – after cooking, they will inevitably have stuck together in a clump. You may need a little extra vinegar to loosen the tapioca pearls properly. Use the pearls soon after making.
Serve the dumplings topped with pickled tapioca pearls, Chinese chives and a drizzle of ginger vinegar.
Chef’s tip:
If the filling is arse-achingly difficult to wrap because it keeps falling everywhere, itis probably because the mince you have used is a little on the lean side without enough fat to hold everything together. For your next attempt, make sure you use fatty pork belly for the pork mince from your butcher.

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