Sui Gaw (水餃)

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Dried sole is a crucial ingredient in sui gaw. It's grilled or roasted till dry and crisp, then pounded so that it's not too small (you wouldn't be able to taste it) nor too big (would be gritty). Added to the filling, dried sole gives sui gaw a unique toasty flavour. And if the stock is simmered with a few chunks of the dried fish, that's even better.

To make good "water dumplings", the prawns in the filling must be fresh. Ok, I know you know that. Here's a more useful tip: blot the prawns with plenty of paper towels after rinsing. If there's time, leave 'em in the fridge for a few hours, uncovered, so that they dry out a bit more. The drier the prawns are, the firmer they'll be after they're cooked.

Sui gaw filling must have lard or it'd be dry. Again, everyone knows that. What most people don't know is, we're NOT gonna keel over with a heart attack or stroke just because we eat lard every day. Don't believe me? Fine, go google for scientific studies that show there's a correlation between eating saturated fats and heart diseases, strokes, whatever. There should be heaps, right? Well, if you can find one, just one, I'll . . . bake you a LARDY CAKE!

When you cook a lump of minced meat, the proteins join together to form a tight, hard ball which is not very nice. The Italians overcome this problem by adding bread soaked in milk to their meatballs. The Chinese add other stuff like water, cornflour, tapioca starch, eggs, dried mushrooms and Chinese chives. Did you think water chestnuts are added only for their crunch? Well, now you know the coarsely chopped bits also help soften the meat filling.

Making good dumplings is only half the story. The stock can make or break sui gaw soup, so you need a good one. Before cooking the dumplings in the stock, blanch them in boiling water to wash away excess flour on the wrappers and also some of the lye. Lastly, add some veggies to the sui gaw soup. A bit of green on food is like a slick of lipstick on women.

Okey dokes, enough with the theory; here's the step-by-step how-to practical to help you make good sui gaw:

(Recipe for 28 pieces, or 34 smaller ones pleated)

250 g minced pork
100 g minced lard
200 g prawns
shell, keeping the shells and heads for making stock; devein, rinse and dry thoroughly with paper towels; cut pea-sized
½ tsp salt

30 g dried mushrooms
break off stalks; soak caps in 3 tbsp water till soft, about 30 minutes; squeeze dry, reserving the liquid; chop roughly; stalks and liquid may be used for making stock
20 g dried sole, boneless
tear into small pieces; roast at 180°C till brown, crisp and fragrant, about 20 minutes depending on the thickness; pound into 3-4 mm bits
120 g water chestnuts (6 pieces)
peel, rinse and chop roughly into 3-4 mm bits
1 tbsp egg
1 tbsp light soya sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
½ tbsp Shaoxing wine
½ tbsp white sesame oil

28 or 34 sui gaw wrappers
1 beaten egg (add 1 tbsp to filling) if making crescent-shaped dumplings
1 litre chicken or pork stock, seasoned to taste
250 g green leafy veg, such as nai bai (奶白) or choy sum (菜心)
rinse thoroughly; cut bite-sized

3 tbsp fried shallots
ground white pepper

Thoroughly mix minced pork, lard, prawns and salt. Gather mixture into a ball. Throw mixture back into the bowl, hard. Repeat 3-4 minutes. Add water chestnuts, mushrooms, sole, egg, light soya sauce, oyster sauce, wine and oil. Mix evenly.

For unpleated dumplings, place 25 g filling on a wrapper. Smear some egg on edges of wrapper and fold to form crescent shape. Press edges to seal.

For pleated dumplings, use 20 g filling per wrapper. Pleat as show in the video (2:21-2:37), then use water instead of egg to seal edges.

To cook dumplings, bring pot of water and chicken stock to a boil. Keep stock simmering gently. Over high heat, blanch dumplings in the water till half cooked. Increase heat for stock to high. Transfer dumplings to the stock with a slotted spoon. Boil gently till cooked through. To test, place a dumpling in a spoon or ladle and press with chopsticks. Dumplings are done if hard. Transfer to serving bowls with a slotted spoon. Add vegetables to stock. Bring to a gentle simmer. Turn off the heat. Divide vegetables and stock between serving bowls. Top with fried shallots. Serve immediately, adding ground white pepper to taste before eating.


Phong Hong said...

I love to eat this Sui Gaw but it seems like quiet a lot of work!

KT said...

Your love isn't strong enough! ; - )

Shuhan said...

Are siew gaw wrappers the same as wonton wrappers, just different shaped?

ryan said...

I love all your seemingly throwaway remarks that lard and coconut milk have been vilified, your 
occasional pointed social commentary, etc. Thanks for doing your bit against the ignorance in this world! I wish I lived in your house, as you've featured quite a few oldschool homestyle dishes that I've practically forgotten about, that brought a smile to my lips when I was reading those posts.

KT said...

Wontons have "wings" which should be light and slithery, so good wonton wrappers should be quite thin. Sui gaws have more filling, so the wrappers should be thicker or they'll be mushy when the filling is cooked.

KT said...

"you've featured quite a few oldschool homestyle dishes"

I'm trying to do my bit for traditional recipes, many of which have been compromised by modern folks who take shortcuts and have a phobia for fats, in particular animal fats. I'm all for traditional recipes evolving over time but they should change for the better, not worse.

Ryan said...

...Particularly when the compromises are due to such ignorance and misguidance. So, so needless. Even traditionalists who stick to their lard and whatnot think they may be sacrificing good nutrition for taste, when in fact they should be gratified that their food is not just delicious but also healthier. Every time i flip past the final few pages of Mind Your Body, my blood pressure rises in a little when I see Sylvia and HPB's "healthier alternatives." What a rag!

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