This easy steamed crystal dumplings recipe (also called xiā jiǎo or har gow) with its juicy shrimp filling and beautifully translucent wrappers is the queen of dumplings. They can be found at classic dim sum parlors around the world from Maxim’s Palace in Hong Kong (so delicious!) or Nom Wah in NYC. And I’d say that next to steamed bao buns, they’re probably the most sought-after dish on any yum cha trolley cart.
But, if you don’t happen to live near an iconic dim sum hall or plan on visiting one anytime soon, turn your kitchen into one instead and learn how to make perfect har gow shrimp dumplings from scratch — they’re actually way easier to make than you might think. As always, detailed har gow step-by-step recipe photos follow.
What is Har Gow (Crystal Shrimp Dumplings)?
Crystal shrimp dumplings (or har gow) consist of a plump, juicy dumpling filling made from shrimp and pork fat (or oil) enclosed in a soft translucent dumpling wrapper made from tapioca starch (or potato or corn starch), wheat starch, and scalding hot boiling water. Har gow filling often includes the addition of bamboo shoots, chives (or scallions), oyster sauce, sesame oil, Shaoxing wine, ginger, and white pepper.
These shrimp dumplings are the definitive measure of good dim sum and when it comes to har gow, restaurants are measured on everything from how thin the wrapper is to how many pleats make up the folds. But I’m happy to tell you that even if you don’t get the wrapper paper-thin or you’ve never pleated a dumpling in your life, you can still make amazing homemade har gow (really)! This is your ultimate guide for how to make the very best har gow dumplings at home.
Why We Love This Har Gow Shrimp Dumpling Recipe
- This shrimp filling is full of flavor and takes just 8 minutes to prepare
- Crystal dumpling wrappers use just 3 ingredients (plus boiling water)
- Har gow dumpling dough takes just 5 minutes to make
- You can use fresh or frozen shrimp for this dumpling filling
- Making homemade har gow means no mystery dumpling filling
- Argentinian red shrimp adds a natural sweetness to this shrimp dumpling filling
- Using a pasta machine with an electric Pastadrive attachment means zero work to roll out har gow dumpling wrappers
- Can’t pleat the dumplings? Just seal them up like hand pies or fried pies, or fill them like ravioli (see my heart-shaped har gow dumplings below)
Important Har Gow Recipe Tips
In the post below you’ll find very detailed instructions for everything you need to have the most success for making har gow dumplings from scratch, but here are the main tips to keep in mind:
- When making har gow dough you MUST use scalding hot boiling water.
- The har gow dough should be soft, smooth, elastic, and pliable (which means, not sticky to the touch and not so dry the edges crack when rolling out the wrappers).
- People like to see actual shrimp inside these dumplings, so I recommend smashing and finely chopping a portion of the shrimp and roughly chopping the rest if using large shrimp (or leaving smaller shrimp whole or halving them).
- The texture of Har gow dumpling wrappers is softer and less chewy than a typical dumpling wrapper. And if you don’t pre-treat the shrimp in a baking soda-water solution first, they will also be soft resulting in a sort of one-note kind of textural experience. I recommend using the baking soda-water solution pre-treatment so the dumplings have a springy “crunchier” shrimp filling. Also adding bamboo shoots (and/or water chestnuts) adds extra texture and flavor.
Make the Perfect Har Gow Dough (Crystal Skin Dumpling Wrappers)
Translucent har gow dough is what sets crystal dumplings apart from the rest because it allows you to eat first with your eyes with a view of what’s inside the dumpling before you ever take a bite. These dumplings are easy to make when you follow the har gow dough tips below and know what to watch out for. I’d even go so far as to say this dough is even easier to pleat and seal than regular dumpling dough because it’s so malleable and it seals right up without barely even having to pinch it.
I’d like to thank The Woks of Life and Nom Wah for their stellar dumpling wrapper recipes (they are both exactly the same recipe). They’re perfectly smooth, pliable, and soft)!
- Add scalding hot boiling water (not just hot or warm water) to the starch mixture, or it won’t be usable.
- If the dough is sticky, it’s too wet. Try to incorporate a little more starch into it (equal parts 1:1 ratio of tapioca and wheat starch). The dough should be hydrated enough that you can pull it and stretch it without it crumbling and it doesn’t stick to your hands.
- If the dough cracks around the edges when you roll it out, it’s too dry. Try to incorporate 1 teaspoon of hot water at a time until you get a smooth, pliable dough, and knead it to become cohesive. I’ve never had this happen, but I’d try it anyway to avoid the loss of ingredients.
- Use the dough right away and be sure to keep it covered with sustainable cling film in a resealable bag or under a warm damp towel to make sure the dough doesn’t dry out while you’re rolling the wrappers and filling them. After the dough has been kneaded for a couple of minutes and is soft and elastic create a dough “log” while it’s still warm. Then cut the dough “log” into 2 or 3 smaller logs and wrap those logs with cling film and place them in a freezer bag. Work with one log at a time cutting it into individual balls (about 15 to 20g each) and rolling them out and filling them one at a time. I keep everything (all dough logs and portioned dough pieces) closed in a freezer bag while I’m rolling and filling each wrapper. This way I don’t have to worry about the dough drying out or any wrappers sticking to each other.
- Use a pasta machine with an electric roller attachment to easily roll each dumpling wrapper without any effort (i.e. Marcato Pastadrive or Kitchen Aid pasta attachment). I make a lot of homemade pasta and we have the electric Pastadrive attachment that rolls the dough through the pasta machine for you without any hand-cranking involved. I recently discovered it’s also perfect for rolling out individual har gow dumpling wrappers starting with #2 on the machine and going to #3, and finally #4 to achieve the perfect thickness. It completely cuts out the time and effort of having to hand-roll har gow dumplings one by one. You may also use a tortilla press, a cleaver or chef’s knife plus a cutting board with a little oil brushed on them, or the bottom of a lightly oiled casserole dish to press out each wrapper, or a rolling pin.
How to Keep Har Gow Filling Super Tasty and Juicy (and the Shrimp Crispy)
Use these important har gow filling tips and easy techniques to guarantee a flavorful and juicy dumpling filling with great texture.
- Soaking shrimp in a baking soda and water solution for 30 minutes keeps the shrimp crisp (bursting with each bite) and full of juice. The baking soda increases the pH and allows the shrimp to retain more moisture as they steam. You can skip this step, but if so, I recommend adding 2 to 3 tablespoons of chopped water chestnuts (or increasing the bamboo shoots from 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup) in order to give the dumplings a little more texture. *See photos below of the filling using the baking soda method and the filling that doesn’t use this method for a side-by-side comparison.
- Smash and finely dice some shrimp and roughly chop the rest. This helps give har gow the best texture.
- Adding tapioca starch (or regular cornstarch) to the filling thickens it a bit and helps retain moisture that would otherwise escape as the dumplings steam resulting in a juicier dumpling filling.
- Adding a bit of lard and/or vegetable oil also helps create a juicier dumpling filling (and lard also adds extra flavor).
- Minced bamboo shoots add a nutty flavor and crunchy texture that balances the shrimp. You can also add 2 or 3 tablespoons of minced water chestnuts for even more texture which I occasionally do when I have them in my pantry.
- Adding Shaoxing wine helps cut down on the “shrimpy-fishy” flavor and elevates the entire har gow filling. Although if you don’t have this ingredient in your pantry already, you can omit it just know it’s highly recommended because ginger also helps with this.
- Whipping the dumpling filling in 1 direction for 5 minutes hydrates the protein and creates a juicier, bouncier dumpling filling.
- Creating a ginger paste (not just mincing and adding fresh ginger *see below) helps flavor the filling without ever biting down on a piece of actual ginger (which I personally don’t enjoy when I’m eating dumplings). This is a riff on the Sichuan technique (I learned living in Chengdu) of adding ginger-infused water to dumplings and wonton fillings as opposed to actual minced ginger.
Below in photos (2 Ways to Make Har Gow Dumpling Filling)
Here are 2 har gow fillings using the same ingredients, but different methods so you can choose how you want to make your dumplings. We prefer the LEFT COLUMN filling which is still very cohesive, but you can feel the crispy shrimp in each bite. For us, the texture is better than the RIGHT COLUMN filling which is still delicious but too soft for us especially given the wrappers are also softer than normal dumpling wrappers. However, adding water chestnuts (or more bamboo shoots) to a filing like this will give it the extra texture boost it needs.
(LEFT COLUMN) Har gow filling using pre-soaked shrimp in a baking soda-water solution plus a ratio of more large diced shrimp and less minced shrimp.
(RIGHT COLUMN) Har gow filling not using the baking soda-water solution with a ratio of more shrimp finely minced and formed into a paste.
Overview: Har Gow Dumplings Ingredients (Everything You Need to Make Homemade Har Gow)
With just a few ingredients, you can make har gow dumplings that are as good or better than your favorite dim sum spot. You can find the full ingredient measurements in the recipe card below.
FOR THE DOUGH
- wheat starch
- tapioca starch (sub potato starch or corn starch)
- hot boiling water
- vegetable oil (or lard)
FOR THE DUMPLING FILLING
- shrimp (preferably with a mix of Argentinian Reds)
- baking soda
- toasted sesame oil
- Shaoxing wine (sub dry sherry or omit altogether)
- oyster sauce
- light soy sauce (or omit)
- lard (sub vegetable oil)
- vegetable oil
- tapioca starch (sub cornstarch)
- fresh ginger
- white pepper
- scallions (green parts only)
- bamboo shoots
Simple dipping sauce
- soy sauce
- fresh ginger
Sichuan Chili Oil
- Sichuan Chili Oil (Xiangla Hongyou 香辣红油) (optional but highly recommended)
Overview: How to Make Har Gow Dumplings (Just Like a Dim Sum Parlor)
Each component of this dish is simple on its own to make, but you may find it useful to have a helper in the kitchen when assembling the dumplings. Having one person roll out the dumpling wrappers while the other person fills and seals them is an easy way to break up the tasks. But, if it’s just you flying solo in the kitchen, you can totally do this! You’ll find the full instructions in the recipe card, but here’s a brief overview:
- Soak the shrimp in baking soda-water solution.
- Make the har gow filling.
- Make the dumpling dough.
- Roll out the har gow wrappers.
Prepare the bamboo steamer.
- Fill the dumplings.
- Steam the dumplings.
How to Make Har Gow Shrimp Dumplings (虾饺) step-by-step photos
Can You Put Uncooked Har Gow Dumplings in the Fridge?
UNLIKE MOST HOMEMADE DUMPLINGS, HAR GOW DUMPLINGS CAN BE REFRIGERATED. Har gow dumplings can actually be refrigerated for up to 3 days, but I don’t like the idea of fish or shrimp not being used right away. So, I pop them straight into the freezer on a parchment-lined sheet tray until frozen solid. Then I add them to a freezer bag so we can enjoy homemade har gow dumplings any time. Plus, they steam in just 8 minutes from frozen! (see below)
Can Har Gow Dumplings (Crystal Shrimp Dumplings) Be Frozen?
Yes, you can absolutely freeze Har gow shrimp dumplings for up to 3 months and I highly recommend it. Below in photos, you’ll see the frozen homemade har gow (left) and after they’ve been steamed for 8 minutes (right). They taste and feel just like freshly made shrimp har gow. There is no difference in taste or texture whatsoever. Har gow make an excellent MealPrep and freeze meal.
IF YOU PLAN TO FREEZE HAR GOW DUMPLINGS:
Line a sheet tray with parchment and add filled dumplings with a little space in between so they don’t touch each other. Place them into the freezer for 30 minutes, or until frozen, and then add them to a freezer bag or other air-tight container and freeze for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to eat previously frozen har gow, do not thaw them out. Instead, simply steam them in a prepared steamer basket set over boiling water for 8 minutes.
How Do You Store and Reheat Cooked Har Gow Dumplings?
I doubt you’ll have any har gow leftovers (because they’re so good) but if you do, simply allow them cool, refrigerate them in a sealed container, and when you’re ready to eat them, reheat them in a steamer for about 3 minutes until warmed through. I don’t recommend reheating har gow dumplings in the microwave (at all), but I won’t judge you if you do.
How to Pleat and Seal a Har Gow Dumpling Wrapper
Try shooting for 6 to 8 pleats, but don’t beat yourself up if you only get 2 — they’ll still taste great.
When working alone, I prefer to roll a wrapper and fill it immediately. Then roll another wrapper, fill it, and repeat until all the dumplings are filled. If you’re working with a partner, have one person roll wrappers while the other fills them.
Place a dumpling wrapper in the palm of your hand, add a mound of filling, fold it in half, and pinch the top together in the middle. Then working on one side at a time (either left of the pinch or right of the pinch), make the first pleat right next to the pinched middle. Keep pleating and pinching until that half of the dumpling is sealed. Repeat on the opposite side
Having Trouble Pleating Your Homemade Har Gow Dumplings?
If you’re having trouble making pretty dumpling pleats, simply fold squares of dough into triangles or fill them like ravioli as I’ve done in the above photos. In fact, I love to make unusually shaped har gow dumplings (like the heart-shaped har gow above) because they look especially pretty when steamed and taste great too.
Looking for a Few More Delicious Dim Sum or Asian Dishes?
If you love the flavors typically found in Asian, or Chinese cuisine, or looking for new inspired dishes to celebrate the Lunar New Year, here are a few of our favorites to get you started.
- Homemade Chinese Soup Dumplings Xiaolongbao (小笼包) (100% From Scratch)
- Lucky Lunar New Year Fried Cherry Pie “Wontons”
- Easy Egg Drop Soup with Crispy Fried Wonton Strips (Danhuatang 蛋花湯)
- Thin + Chewy Homemade Chinese Wonton Wrappers
- Easy Homemade 2-Ingredient Chinese Dumpling Dough
- Takeout Style Pork and Green Bean Stir-Fry w/Glass Noodles
- Easy Pork and Chive Potstickers w/Sautéed Napa Cabbage & Carrots (Jiaozi)
- Chinese Takeout Chicken & Vegetable Stir-Fry w/Glass Noodles
- 20-Minute Singapore Mei Fun Noodles (Shrimp Mei Fun)
- Best Ever Chicken Dumplings Recipe (Plump & Juicy Jiaozi)
- Easy and Delicious Pork Potsticker Recipe (Cantonese Style Jiaozi)
- Easy Shrimp and Vegetable Stir Fry (w/Cantonese Style White Sauce)
- Crispy Pork and Chive Spring Rolls w/Glass Noodles & Vegetables
- Steamed Pork & Chive Money Bag Dumplings (Beggar’s Purse Dumplings)
Let’s get started!Print