I have been making traditional Peking Ravioli dumplings for a long time, the wrappers from scratch. Somehow, I got it into my head to replicate a dumpling called “shray jow” (water dumplings) that I tasted at some dim sum parlors in the past. A few weeks ago while I was in the Asian market called “88” in Brookline, I came upon a stainless steel TWO-tiered steamer. Having cooked as much and as long as I have, it seemed a little late in the game to be buying one–but I didn’t have one and the generous sized kettle would also be perfect for dipping a Peking duck before hanging and roasting too. Or, for cooking lobsters! So I came home with it, and the search for a shray jow recipe that mirrored my memories began in earnest.
It never continues to amaze me that even when I have a shelf full of Chinese recipe books, that the one I’m looking for is not there. Online, I found so many variations that it wasn’t even funny–with really weird ingredients. Finally, after a couple of efforts where the taste was close but the texture was not, I came upon a recipe that worked. It involved chopping up the raw shrimp into a paste, adding sherry or rice wine and cornstarch to it, and flavoring the pork/shrimp mixture with oyster sauce after adding freshly chopped bamboo shoots, green onions and fresh ginger root.
So if you’re inspired to try it out yourself, here’s the recipe that I tweaked and sent to one of my daughters who wanted to make them after seeing these photos. I made them when my other daughter came to visit a week and a half ago.
shray jow recipe:
Use equal parts ground pork and shrimp. Buy large or extra large shrimp and clean the black lines on both sides of each shrimp–then chop them up until the shrimp is a paste. Add sherry or Chinese wine to the shrimp and a spoonful of cornstarch in a little chicken broth (or water.) Mix well together before you add the shrimp mixture to the pork. Chop up fresh bamboo shoots into very small dice and add; ditto green onions and fresh ginger root. Add a tablespoon or so of oyster sauce and mix well. Let sit in the fridge covered with plastic wrap.
Line a steamer plate with napa cabbage that is not wet. Take wonton wrappers (round ones) and wet half of the round, add filling, pinch together. Keep them covered with a cloth until they are all folded. Then place them on the cabbage–brush the dumplings with chicken broth or water or a combo–this is important or else the wrappers sometimes stay too dry and don’t get cooked enough. Bring water to a boil and steam the dumplings for about 15 minutes or until they look done.
Serve with dip: seasoned rice vinegar, soy, a little sugar, scallions, ginger, a little water and drops of sesame oil–stir well and serve.