The fun of making dumplings always involves a bit of crafty handwork, especially when it comes to those store-bought wrappers. It’s amazing how many ways you can fold a simple square or round of dough…kind of like food origami, which is perfect for people like me who love to play with their food!
One of my favorite dumpling shapes has to be this elegant and easy-to-make pouch shape. You basically wrap these up like you would wrap up a gift. Imagine a square cloth napkin laid out in front of you with a coconut in the middle, where the napkin is the wrapper and the coconut is the dumpling filling.
Secure the inner edges of the pouch together by simply dabbing some water all around the center lump (coconut) of filling. After gathering the edges together, a deliberate pinch from all sides of the wrapper in towards the center just above the filling will seal off the pouch. The dumplings will stand sealed on their own, which makes the asparagus “tie” purely optional and ornamental.
It’s more common to find strips of chives used to tie off pouch dumplings, but here I’ve used ribbons of asparagus. I figure since it’s part of my filling, I might as well make good use of it in decorating my dumplings too…one less thing to buy at the market, which is always a good thing! Using a vegetable peeler, I make very thin strips of asparagus ribbons that are about 3″ long, and then wrap them around the pinched part of each pouch to make a finished looking dumpling.
Here, I’ve made a light and healthy shrimp and asparagus filling based on my Ha Gao Recipe, but you can fill these pouch dumplings with any kind filling you want. In a pinch, I’ve even stuffed these store-bought dumpling wrappers with lean turkey breakfast sausage with sliced green onions mixed in for a quick and satisfying meal.
Depending on how you like the taste of raw asparagus, you can also wrap these pouches with the asparagus ribbons after steaming if you prefer a greener looking pouch tie. Keep in mind that when using the vegetable peeler, thinner asparagus “ribbons” will be the easiest to use as ties.
A quick dousing of bold soy sauce and hot chili oil make a delicious finish for these dumplings, especially since the shrimp and asparagus filling is mild in flavor. I like to pair these Shrimp & Asparagus Pouches with some Chinese Jasmine Green Tea (one of my favorites!) as the tea is light and fragrant, just like these pretty little dumplings are.
Dim Sum Recipe # 10: Shrimp & Asparagus Pouch Dumplings
Makes 20 dumplings.
6 oz. peeled, deveined shrimp, chopped into 1/4″ pieces
1 tsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp sherry
1/2 tsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp non-hydrogenated vegetable oil spread (I used Natural Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks) or butter @ room temperature
1 tsp white sugar
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp white pepper
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
3 large cloves garlic, crushed
15 green asparagus stalks, white tough base removed, chopped into 1/4″ pieces
20 dumpling wrappers, square-shaped
5 extra stalks of asparagus, for making asparagus ribbons
small bowl of water
wok with slightly larger diameter than steamer OR a stockpot with exactly the same diameter as the steamer
1 tsp measure
parchment paper, cut in circle to size of bamboo steamer and perforated with 1″ cuts throughout
1.) Mix all the filling ingredients together.
2.) On a work surface, lay out a dumpling wrapper. Spoon a rounded tsp of the filling into the center of the wrapper, then lightly dab the area around the filling with water. Gather the outer edges of the wrapper together and pinch the dumpling in the area just above where the filling sits, then set the dumpling aside. Repeat this process with all 20 dumplings.
3.) Use a vegetable peeler to peel out very thin ribbons of asparagus. Cut each ribbon into 3″ pieces. You want the ribbon to be soft and pliable, able to be wrapped around the pinched area on the dumplings. If the asparagus ribbons are too stiff, soak them in a small bowl of hot water for a few minutes until they are malleable and limp, blot them with a paper towel, then try to use them again. Wrap the ribbons around each dumpling to create a pouch-like look, then place them in a bamboo steamer lined with parchment.
4.) Fill a large wok or stockpot half full with water and bring to a full boil. Place bamboo steamer on top of wok or pot, then steam for 8-10 minutes while water is on full boil the entire time. Eat the pouch dumplings fresh, with plenty of soy sauce and chili oil.