What is har gow?
Har gow, ha gow or ha kau is a transparent steamed dumpling (gow) with a filling of prawns (har). Har gow is one of the most popular dishes of the dim sum trolley that is pushed around in restaurants and is a member of the Guangdong Big Three, the three bestselling dim sum.
Har gow was invented at the beginning of the twentieth century in Guangzhou, the capital of the Guangdong Province, by the owner of a tea house on the river. By expanding his dim sum menu with dumplings filled with freshly caught prawns from the boats that passed nearby, he hoped to beat his competitors, who also all served dim sum.
Authentic har gow contains a filling of prawns, pork and bamboo shoots, covered by a wafer-thin wrapper that becomes almost transparent after steaming.
Did you know?
Har gow is the dumpling on which a dim sum chef is assessed. The dough should be almost translucent and easy to shape, yet strong enough not to tear when the dumpling is lifted with chopsticks. The correct filling is juicy and tasty but not chewy. The har gow must not stick together and must be small enough to eat in one bite.
How to make har gow
A circular dough sheet, made from wheat starch, tapioca starch, lard, salt and boiling water, is filled with a teaspoon of filling, which usually consists of finely ground prawns, pork or fat, bamboo shoots and ginger flavoured with soy sauce, Shaoxing wine and sesame oil.
The dough sheets are folded around the filling into half-moons. One side of the sheet is folded before the edge is pressed shut. The har gow are then cooked in a bamboo steam basket until the dough is transparent and the orange-pink filling shines through.
How to eat
A har gow dumpling is picked up with chopsticks, dipped in chilli oil and red rice vinegar and put in the mouth at once.