Dim Sum Recipe #12: Golden Pineapple Buns (Bolo Bao)

Happy Chinese New Year!!

I hope the Year of the Sheep finds you in good sprits and ready to eat!

Yesterday my family met up for an early celebratory Chinese New Year dim sum lunch. For the first time, the hubby and I actually gave red envelopes to my niece, Maddy. As as gesture of promise and prosperity during this holiday, it’s custom for older people give good luck money stuffed in small red envelopes to the little ones. This year, the hubby and I decided to finally acknowledge ourselves as older people.
Along with red, gold is also an iconic color during Chinese New Year. We’re not talking frosty gold, we’re talking yellow, shiny, like-the-sunshine gold–the 24 K variety. Golden Pineapple Buns are where the culinary meets the karats. These buns bake-off with a gorgeous, rich, and slightly crunchy cookie-like topping. You won’t find a more quintessential Hong Kong style treat to snack on while taking in Chinese New Year festivities.Just so it’s clear, there’s absolutely no pineapple in these Golden Pineapple Buns. The name is purely inspired out of the rough textured look of the buns, like the jagged surface of a pineapple. If you’ve never enjoyed them before, think of these as a rich, buttery cookie hopping on the back of a soft, chewy bun.

This bun dough is adapted from my recipe for Baked Char Siu Bao. I swap out the oil in that savory recipe with butter here to create a richer, brioche-like dough. I also add some more sugar (1/3 cup verses 1/4 cup). What remains the same is the added water roux (tangzhong), which creates a milky-soft, chewy texture to the buns.

If you eat these straight out of the oven, the tops will be crunchy and crumbly. I actually like them even more a bit later, after they’ve cooled and the buttery crust softens. If you eat them the day after baking, a quick 15-20 second zap in the microwave and they are every bit as delicious as day they were baked.

A dark, complex Wuyi Oolong (a.k.a. Grand Scarlett Robe) or an earthy, peaty Pu-Erh are ideal pairings for these buns. Both will be bold and rich enough to stand up to that buttery crown of goodness!
Pineapple Buns (Bolo Bao)

Makes 16- 3″ buns.


{Bun Dough}

3 cups bread flour

3 Tbsp Bird’s Custard Powder

1 Tbsp nonfat dry milk

1 Tbsp instant yeast (I use SAF instant)

1/3 cup white sugar

5 Tbsp butter (at room temperature)

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/4 cup water

bench flour and oil for proofing bowl

{Water Roux}

1/2 cup water

2 Tbsp bread flour

{Pineapple Topping}

1 stick butter (at room temperature)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 T Bird’s Custard Powder

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

2 egg yolks

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp almond extract

{Egg Wash}

1 egg

1 tsp milk


small saucepan or pot

stand mixer with dough hook attachment or bread machine

2 large baking sheets, fitted with parchment

medium bowl

large work surface

plastic wrap

chef’s knife

small bowl

pastry brush

cooling rack


1.)  Make the Water Roux. Place a 1/2 cup of cold water into a small saucepan and add the 2 Tbsp of bread flour. Mix well until the mixture resembles homogenized milk, then turn on the stove top to medium heat. Cook the roux until it thickens up and has the consistency of a thick yogurt, making sure to keep the mixture a pure white color by not overcooking. The mixture should not exceed 150 degrees F. Place the mixture into a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap, making contact with the top surface of the roux (to prevent a skin from forming). You should end up with about 1/3 cup of roux, ready to use when it has cooled back down to room temperature.

2.)  Make the Bun Dough. Using the bowl of a stand mixer, place all the wet dough ingredients (including the roux) into the mixing bowl. Place the bowl in the stand mixer with a dough hook attachment and start to mix on low-speed. Add the yeast, sugar, milk powder, and custard powder first. Then add the bread flour gradually, a cup at a time, scraping down the insides of the mixing bowl periodically. Increase the speed to low-medium and continue to mix until the shaggy mass becomes a soft and supple ball of dough. If necessary, gradually add a teaspoon of water at a time until the dough comes together. Knead the dough for 10 minutes. Transfer the ball of dough to an oiled bowl to proof, lightly coating all sides of the dough with some of the same oil. Cover the bowl lightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough proof in a warm, draft free place for 30-40 minutes or until the mass has doubled in volume.

3.)  Make the Pineapple Topping. In a medium bowl, mix all the topping ingredients together thoroughly. Transfer this topping dough onto a large sheet of plastic wrap, then use the wrap to shape the dough into a log/cylinder, about 3″ in diameter. Unravel the plastic wrap from the dough, then cut it into 16 equal pieces (cut the log in half, then each half in half again until you get 16 pieces). Cover and set aside.

4.)  Portion Out the Dough. After the dough has doubled in volume, punch it down and transfer it to a work surface lightly dusted with bench flour. Give the dough a few light kneadings, then portion dough out into 16 equal pieces.

5.)  Shape the Buns. Shape each of the 16 pieces into a round, slightly flat ball. Place them on the large baking sheet, 8 to a sheet, so that they are at least 3″ apart from each other. Cover the buns with a large piece of plastic wrap, then let the buns rise for 30-40 minutes, or long enough for them to have doubled in puffiness. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

6.)  Shape the Pineapple Topping. While the buns are proofing, shape each piece of the topping dough into a round-edged 3″ disk. Just use your hands to shape them. When the buns have doubled in puffiness, place one topping dough disk over each proofed bun, carefully placing it so that the bun doesn’t deflate.

7.)  Finish and Bake. In a small bowl, mix together the egg and milk to create an egg wash. Using a pastry brush, brush the tops of the buns (the topping dough) generously with the egg wash. Bake the buns for 22-25 minutes, until the tops are golden. Remove from the oven, then transfer the buns to a cooling rack to sit for a few minutes before serving.

*** Tip:  Store leftover buns in fridge for up to 5 days.  When you are ready to eat them, reheat the buns in the microwave for 15-20 seconds or until warm and soft again.

Waffle Cone Fortune Cookies

What better way to celebrate the upcoming Valentine’s Day and Chinese New Year holidays than with a crispy pile of golden fortune cookies! I always find it amusing how these humble little cookies have such a festive and auspicious place in popular culture. I also love that they are distinctively Asian American, created in the good old USA with Chinese and Japanese inspiration.As far as I’m concerned, one thing is clear. Any message I receive through a fortune cookie is solid information. True? Maybe not at this very moment, but you never know what tomorrow will bring! A cookie with a hidden message of whimsical wisdom tucked inside…gotta love the fun in that!
With this recipe for Waffle Cone Fortune Cookies, I’ve made the traditional fortune cookie just that much more gourmet. Instead of using regular milk, I use coconut milk and a splash of vanilla extract for extra fragrance and flavor. Served plain or even dipped in melted chocolate, they are like a standard fortune cookie with a bit of extra yum.
Although I use my new favorite kitchen toy, a Petit Waffle Cone Maker, to create these, you can easily use a regular griddle or a flat pan over medium heat. Some recipes out there suggest using the oven, but this has never worked for me since I can’t shape the cookies fast enough when they come out 6 at a time, all at once.

Time is of the essence here, as you must work quickly to shape the cookies while they are still warm. The process of taking the flat cookie off the griddle, placing the fortune paper inside, and then shaping the cookie should take no more than 10-15 seconds. If you have heat-sensitive fingers you may want to have a small bowl of chilled water nearby for relief, just incase.As for me, I pull in the corners of each hot, folded cookie in one swift, sturdy motion. A single chopstick makes it easy to create an inner angled corner to this crescent-shaped cookie. The cookies are best eaten just after they are made, with a hot cup of Chinese tea like a Pu-erh or Oolong. Remember, work fast and without hesitation, and you’re destined to get the most beautiful looking fortune cookies…that’s my lucky message for you!Waffle Cone Fortune Cookies

Makes 16 cookies. 


2 Tbsp butter

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

pinch of salt

2 Tbsp coconut milk

1 tsp vanilla


scissors or exacto knife with cutting mat

fortune cookie message template, printed with 16 messages

small microwave-safe mixing bowl

teaspoon measure

Petit Waffle Cone Maker or griddle or pan over medium heat

thin spatula


small teacup or bowl, to hold shape of cooling cookie

small bowl of chilled water (optional, if you have delicate hands)

work surface or large plate


1.)  Print and cut out the fortune cookie messages. I used a blank fortune cookie template, then typed in the messages before printing. If you have nice penmanship you can write them in too!
2.)  Make the batter by melting the butter in the microwave-safe bowl on low for about 30 seconds, until fully melted. Add the sugar to the butter, then mix well. Mix in the egg, until the batter is evenly incorporated. Add the flour and salt, then mix again to create a pancake-like batter. Finally add the coconut milk and vanilla extract and mix in throughly.

3.)  Heat the Petit Waffle Cone Maker to medium heat (I used the #3 setting). When the heat has come up to temperature, spoon out 2 teaspoons of the batter into one of the 3″ cone circles. Lower the top of the waffle cone maker to create an evenly thin cookie. If using a griddle or pan, you will have to use the back of a spoon to smooth out the batter to an even 3″ circle. Let the flat cookie cook for about 1 minute or until it looks golden brown.

4.)  Using a thin spatula, quickly move the flat cookie to a work surface. Place the fortune inside, then fold the cookie over to create a taco-like shape. The faster you move, the better. 
5.)  Immediately, use your left hand to hold the tip of a chopstick at the center base of the taco shape, then use your right index finger and thumb to pull the sides of the cookie inwards.  

6.)  Carefully place the cookie in a small teacup or bowl until it cools completely. Repeat steps 3-5 to create 16 Waffle Cone Fortune Cookies. 

Chinese Red Envelope Lantern

For kids, Chinese New Year is the holiday to eat, socialize, and get incredibly rich, fast.

The Chinese Red Envelope, also call lay-see in Cantonese, is given to children during the holiday as a bestowing of fortune, wealth, and good luck for the new year.

I have very fond memories of getting these festive little packets from my aunties and uncles years back when my grandfather would host incredible Chinese New Years’ celebrations in LA’s Chinatown each year.  On the car ride back home after dinner, my sister and I would count up and compare totals to make sure there wasn’t any unfair favoritism going on. After mustering up all that self-control to not open those red envelopes during mealtime, we were finally free to be our greedy selves!

Chinese culture has it that with adulthood you can kiss those red envelopes goodbye.  The only exception to this is if you are getting married, where red envelopes are given to the bride and groom during Chinese tea ceremonies.

If you’re planning to celebrate Chinese New Year with the kiddos this year, this is a neat project to take on.  Although I’ve added several instructional pictures to this post, the process isn’t actually that difficult.  I made my lantern in less than an hour.

The trickiest part about this lantern project is finding some envelopes you like, that have designs that are both vertical and horizontal.  I found these adorable Hello Kitty envelopes in San Francisco’s Chinatown a few weeks ago while my husband was holding our place in line at Golden Gate Bakery, famous for their Egg Custard Tarts.  You can buy red envelopes at most Asian grocery stores and even online on Ebay or Etsy.

The resulting Hello Kitty lantern is a more modern version of a lantern I’ve admired at my mother-in-law’s house for a while.  Her lantern is embellished with some rolled envelopes for a slightly different look, which is perfect if your horizontally designed envelopes are the same standard size as your vertical envelopes.  You can see that the top part of my lantern uses longer/larger horizontally oriented envelopes, while the bottom part uses the standard, vertically oriented ones.

With Chinese New Year lasting for two weeks until February 14th, I hope you’ll find some time to make one of these magical, cheerful lanterns.  If you’re feeling particularly generous you can stuff money inside each envelope of this lantern instead of those index cards…the little ones will love you for it and it’ll be a true test in self-control!

Chinese Red Envelope Paper Lantern

What You’ll Need:

3 x 5 index cards

12 large size red envelopes (with a horizontal design) or {18 standard size red envelopes (with horizontal design).  You’ll roll the extra 6 and tape them to the top part of your lantern like my mother-in-law did.}

12 standard size red envelopes (with a vertical design)


transparent tape

sturdy string or baker’s twine, a 1-yard piece, 2-yard piece, and a 12-inch piece

5″ tassel (you can get this at Joann’s or a home decoration store)


1.)  Prepare Envelopes  

Stuff an index card (or cash!) into each of the envelopes to create a sturdier thickness of paper.  You may need to cut the card or tape 2 together to accommodate the size of the envelope.  Seal envelopes with tape if necessary, or tuck into pre-cut flap.

2.)  Top Lantern Layer

Tape 6 horizontally oriented (for me these are the larger envelopes) together, side-by-side.

Using another 6 horizontally oriented envelopes of the same size, place each envelope on top of the bottom set of envelopes.  Tape the right side of each of the second layer of envelopes onto the bottom first layer, leaving the left side untaped.  

With the final envelopes on the right, tape the top envelope down to underlying envelope by wrapping the tape around the right edge so that the 2 envelopes become joined.

Prop up the connected envelopes right-side up to create a hexagon shape with the 6 attached envelopes pointing towards the center.  This will help show you where to place pieces of tape next.

Start taping 2 free edges closest to one another to create a center point to the hexagon. Use a long piece of tape that covers the entire length of the envelopes’ right edge.

You can tape the envelopes together on whichever side you prefer, as long at they are sealed together well.

Finish the hexagon with a final piece of tape.

The finished hexagon will be the top part of the lantern.  Set aside.

3.)  Bottom Lantern Layer (Repeat process for “Top Lantern Layer”)

4.)  String Together Top & Bottom Lantern Pieces

String Top Lantern Piece

Use a 2 yard piece of string here.  Lace each string end in 1 of 2 opposite spaces in hexagon (from bottom) and tie knot at top center of lantern.

Place each string end into two other opposite spaces in hexagon, then flip the lantern piece over and tie another knot.

Place string ends in 2 remaining opposite spaces on hexagon and flip the lantern piece over.  Tie a final knot snug to the center point.

Set this top lantern piece aside.  The strings at the top of this top lantern piece will help to hang the lantern later…do not cut these!

String Bottom Lantern Piece (Repeat “String Top Lantern Piece”)

Use a 1-yard piece of string/baker’s twine here.  Lace each string end in 1 of 2 opposite spaces in hexagon (from bottom) and tie knot at top center of lantern.Place each string end into two other opposite spaces in hexagon, then flip the lantern piece over and tie another knot.

Place string ends in 2 remaining opposite spaces on hexagon and flip the lantern piece over.  Tie a final knot snug to the center point (just about to be tied in this picture).

Place the large/top lantern piece on top of bottom piece, aligning their centers.  Pull the loose string ends of the bottom piece up through 2 opposite spaces of the large/top lantern piece. Adjust the slack on the string so that there is a 1″ allowance between the top and bottom lantern pieces (just eye-ball this).  Tie a final knot snug to the center point of the top piece to create one large lantern where top and bottom pieces are connected with string. After tying the knot, snip off excess string with scissors.

5.)  Attach Tassel

Loop tassle onto 12-inch piece of string and shift it to center of the string piece.  Choose two opposite hexagon spaces on lower part of lantern to place each of string ends in and pull them up to the top of the lower lantern piece (to the middle of the whole lantern).

Tie a knot above the bottom lantern piece, snug to the center of the hexagon, and snip off excess string.

Congratulations!  You’re done!!  Happy Chinese New Year!!!

Dim Sum Recipe #4: Egg Custard Tarts (Dan Tat)

If you’ve ever walked on Grant Street in San Francisco’s Chinatown you’re sure to encounter a long line of people waiting in front of Golden Gate Bakery.  This bakery’s storefront is quite unassuming, so if you don’t know what’s going on and try to look past the mobs of people waiting, you’ll see two main colors emanating from inside the store:  pink and yellow.

Once you actually get past the front door you begin to realize that your time spent waiting might just be worth it:  there are an astounding number of sunny yellow egg custard tarts being shoved into hot pink pastry boxes!

The egg custard tarts at Golden Gate Bakery have a pale yellow custard with a light yet dense flan-like texture.  They are also quite large and deep, which means that they can be filled with considerable amount of egg custard.

What I consider the most special characteristic of this tart is its rich and super crispy crust, a feature that makes this Dan Tat stand out from all the rest.  The ultra crispness of the tart shell is a fleeting thing though, so it’s wise to eat these tarts within a few hours of buying them.

As simple way to keep their tarts distinctively crispy, the bakery workers at Golden Gate take great care to cut a large opening in the corner of each box of tarts that go out.  I thought it was odd at first, but later understood why.

A few months back, I did a post on Apple Strudel where I used oil spray and phyllo dough as my secret ingredients to create a super crispy and flaky pastry crust.  What’s great about that recipe is that I was able to avoid using extra butter when making the strudel crust.

For my Chinese Egg Custard Tart recipe, I’ve used the same technique and ingredients to get similar results.  The traditional way of making Dan Tat crusts is with a lard dough and a water dough, which are rolled methodically to create layers.  The technique used is very similar to the technique used to make puff pastry.  It’s a lengthy process, one which requires a good amount of patience, time, and skill.

This recipe is much simpler. It requires a minimal amount of patience, time, and skill–nothing like that required for the traditional method of making Dan Tats.

My secret ingredient here is canola oil, sprayed in between each layer of phyllo.  Using the oil spray is effortless and simple, and helps to eliminate the need to use lard or butter.  I also use French brioche molds here, which give just the right size and depth so that the tarts can be filled with a decent amount of custard.  The molds are also used as pie weights, to prevent excessive rising while the phyllo is baking.

With these tips and tools, the result is a super light and flakey crust that literally shatters after you’ve sunk your teeth into the custardy flan-like filling.  Just like the Golden Gate Bakery Dan Tat’s, these tarts are best when eaten fresh, on the day of baking.

If you are thinking of trying to make any sweets for Chinese New Year, this Chinese Egg Custard Tart recipe is the one you want to make.  This is a traditional recipe made simpler and lighter, with the use of more modern ingredients and technique.  Made easy, fast, and healthier, these sunny little egg tarts will be a cheerful and scrumptious addition to your Chinese New Year table!

Egg Custard Tarts (Dan Tat)

Makes 6 tarts.


1 egg

1 egg yolk

2 Tbsp hot water

3 Tbsp sugar

1/4 cup evaporated milk

3/4 tsp vanilla

pinch salt

canola or vegetable oil spray

8 sheets of phyllo dough


fine mesh strainer

large liquid measuring cup

round cookie cutter, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch larger than diameter of brioche/tart mold cavity (I used 4″)

paring knife

12 large brioche or tart molds (I used Matfer) or 6 large brioche molds and 6 pieces of foil bunched up to make pie weights

baking sheet

cooling rack

6 cupcake liners (optional)


1.)  In small bowl, stir together hot water with sugar, and mix until sugar dissolves.  In a separate mixing bowl stir together eggs, milk, salt, and vanilla together until evenly incorporated.  Add in sugar water and mix thoroughly.  Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a liquid measuring cup.  Set aside.

2.)  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  On a large work surface, lay down one sheet of phyllo, then evenly and thoroughly spray it with canola oil spray.  Repeat this process with the remaining 7 pieces of phyllo, stacking each phyllo piece directly on top of the previously sprayed piece.  When all 8 phyllo pieces have been stacked, give the layered phyllo rectangle a final even spray of canola oil.

3.)  Spray the inside of 6 brioche molds with canola oil spray.  Use a round cookie cutter to cut out 6 circles of layered phyllo, using paring knife to cut around cookie cutter to assure clean edges.  Place each layered dough circle into a mold and lightly press the phyllo into the mold, pressing it in so that there are no air pockets.

4.)  Spray bottoms of remaining 6 brioche molds then place them directly atop each of the dough crusts.  This will help the dough stay compact (and not rise) and make room for more custard filling.  Alternatively, use bunched up foil shaped into balls to achieve similar results.  Place crust-filled brioche molds onto a baking sheet.  Bake the phyllo crusts in oven for 6 minutes.

5.)  After 6 minutes, remove the par-baked crusts from the oven.  Let cool for a few minutes then remove top brioche molds or foil balls (be careful, the molds will still be slightly hot). Carefully pour custard liquid into par-baked crusts, filling each crust until it is almost full.

6.)  Carefully place in oven, making sure to keep the custard from flowing over the edges of the crusts.  Bake for 15 minutes until the custard is set and doesn’t jiggle in the center.  Remove custard tarts from oven, let them sit for a few minutes to cool, then push/slip them out from the brioche molds and transfer to a cooling rack to finish cooling (this prevents a soggy crust).  If you prefer, place tart in cupcake liners for easy serving.

Do you love Dim Sum?  Please check out the other recipes from my Dim Sum Series:

Dim Sum Recipe #1:  Siu Mai Dumplings

Dim Sum Recipe #2:  Honeyed Pork Buns (Baked Char Siu Bao)

Dim Sum Recipe #3:  Ha Gao Dumplings

Dim Sum Recipe #1:  Siu Mai Dumplings

Dim Sum Recipe #2:  Honeyed Pork Buns (Baked Char Siu Bao)

Dim Sum Recipe #3:  Ha Gao Dumplings

Dim Sum Recipe #5:  Pork & Chive Potstickers

Dim Sum Recipe #3: Ha Gao Dumplings

The great thing about being Chinese American is that you can celebrate New Year’s, twice, every year.

It’s also ironic though, because just after creating all the these January New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier and make better choices, by February the Lunar New Year is a time where stuffing yourself silly is definitely encouraged if not mandatory.

Dumplings, noodles, rice cakes…go for it!

You see, Chinese New Year’s is like Christmas for the Chinese.  It’s the no holds barred holiday of the year where even if you aren’t skinny you’ll be told that you are just to encourage more eating.  “Please, eat!!!” your Chinese aunties will say.  And to make the holiday that much more calorific, Chinese New Year festivities last for two whole weeks!

As you already know, I love my tea foods and dim sum and because this a fact, I find that making dim sum at home can be just the right time to lighten things up a little.One of the quintessential food items to feast on during Chinese New Year celebrations are dumplings.  My favorite are the steamed ones, and Ha Gao are at the top of that list (right behind Siu Mai).  These white, translucent little pouches might seem light and healthful when they arrive at your table delicate and steaming, but Ha Gao dumplings actually contain a fair amount of pork fat or lard.

Not all dim sum recipes are easy to make healthier.  Luckily, with the use of a special ingredient in this Ha Gao recipe, it can be done.  The secret ingredient?  Vegetable oil spread, which brings some richness to the shrimp filling by serving as a replacement for pork fat.

I know the dim sum masters out there are probably quite displeased with me right now, but the way I see it–balance is key, especially when it comes to food choices.  Oh yes, and there are no pleats on my Ha Gao.  I’ll leave the fancier tricks for those same dim sum masters to execute!

The slightly chewy texture of the homemade wrapper is what makes this recipe especially delicious.  The dough easily comes together in not more than 5 minutes.  It’s common to use a Mexican tortilla press to flatten the dough balls into flat wrappers, but it’s really not necessary.  Just use any flat bottom pot or bowl and press down evenly and deliberately.

The more pressure you exert the flatter (and thinner) the wrapper will be.  Especially if you are new to the process, don’t press the skins too thin otherwise they will be really hard to work with.  Slightly thicker than a nickel coin thickness is about right. The process is very similar to making homemade tortillas.

I’ve made two versions of Ha Gao here.  One type is the more traditional filling with a white wrapper.  The other kind has spinach in the filling and some emerald green matcha in the wrapper for taste and color.  At the end of 2013 I went matcha-crazy, and apparently I am still suffering its effects.  At least this time, I’ve ventured into the savory realm!

Celebrate Chinese New Year and your New Year’s resolutions with light and steamy Ha Gao shrimp dumplings.  There is nothing like opening a bamboo steamer lid to find these delicate pouches staring up at you.  This is one time where making a dish homemade is worth the extra effort.  Eat these elegant dumplings fresh out of the steamer without hesitation or guilt…hey, you can only celebrate New Year’s twice every year!

Ha Gao (Steamed Shrimp Dumplings)

Makes 24 dumplings.



12 oz. peeled, deveined shrimp

2 tsp less-sodium soy sauce

1 Tbsp sherry

1/2 tsp sesame oil

1/2 tsp grated ginger

3 Tbsp non-hydrogenated vegetable oil spread (I used Natural Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks) @ room temperature

2 tsp white sugar

1/8 tsp white pepper

1 Tbsp cornstarch

1/2 of 8 oz. can of sliced bamboo shoots, drained and diced

2-3 stalks green onion, sliced thinly

****Green Wrapper Variation:  2 cup spinach, microwaved for 1 minute (uncovered), then chopped finely

{Ha Gao Wrappers- makes 24 dough balls}

Note:  You can easily make both the white and green wrappers for one batch of filling by cutting the wrapper recipe in half and placing one portion of the ingredients in one mixing bowl, and the second portion (with matcha added) into another separate mixing bowl.  You’ll end up with 2 doughs, one dough ball making 12 white wrappers and another dough ball making 12 green wrappers. 

2 cup wheat starch

1 1/3 cup tapioca flour

1/2 tsp fine salt

2 Tbsp non-hydrogenated vegetable oil spread (I used Natural Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks)

1 cup water just before boiling (175 degrees F)

*** Green Wrapper Variation:  mix 1/2 tsp matcha green tea powder into hot water


bamboo steamer

wok with slightly larger diameter than steamer OR a stockpot with exactly the same diameter as the steamer

1 Tbsp measure

parchment paper, cut in circle to size of bamboo steamer and perforated with 1″ cuts throughout

food processor

one large ziplock bag


large flat-bottom pan or mixing bowl


1.)  In a food processor, process 6 oz. of the shrimp with the 3 Tbsp of vegetable oil spread.  Cut the other 6 oz. into a 1/4″ dice.  Mix all filling ingredients together with shrimp, gently mixing in green onion last (and spinach if using).  Set aside in fridge to chill.

2.)  Place dry dough ingredients into a large mixing bowl.  Add the hot water and oil and mix the dough with chopsticks (or a spoon) until you get a shaggy dough, then knead the dough for about 2 minutes until you get a smooth dough that is very slightly tacky without actually sticking to your hand.

ha gao wrapper dough

3.)  Divide dough in half and roll each dough ball into a log, about 12 inches.  Cut the log in half, then cut each half into half again.  Cut each of the 4 shorter logs into 3 pieces.  You will get 24 dough pieces.  Roll each piece into a ball, then place in airtight container and set aside.

*** Green Wrapper Variation:  If you have decided to make both the white and green wrappers, you should execute steps 2 and 3 once for the white dough and again for the green.  As a result you will have 12 dough pieces from the white dough and another 12 pieces from the green dough.  

4.)  Cut all 4 edges off of the ziplock bag to create 2 squares of plastic.  You will use the two plastic sheet pieces to make wrappers.

5.)  Place a dough ball on top of one square of the ziplock bag, then place the other plastic sheet on top.  Using both hands on opposite sides of the flat-bottom pan,  press down directly onto the dough ball with a deliberate and even pressure.

Press dough ball until you get a 3 3/4″circle (or just under 4″) that is about 1/8″, slightly thicker than a nickel.

After the dough ball is flattened, peel off top plastic sheet carefully.  Flip the wrapper onto one hand, then peel off the second (bottom) plastic sheet to free the wrapper carefully and completely.  If your wrapper doesn’t detach from the ziplock sheet easily your dough has too much moisture and you should knead in some more tapioca starch into it to create a less-tacky/sticky dough.

6.)  Fill the wrapper with 1 Tbsp of the shrimp filling (regular filling for the white dough, and spinach filling for the green dough).  Fold half of the circle over the other half and press lightly to seal and create a half-moon dumpling.  Pinch the edges of the half-moon to seal.  Sit the dumpling up on its base and bring both edges in on one side.  Press edges of dumpling just off the vertical center of the dumpling, creating a propped up pouch-looking dumpling.  Repeat this process to make all 24 dumplings, then place the dumplings in a bamboo steamer lined with perforated parchment.

***  Make Ahead Tip:  Dumplings can be made up to 2 hours ahead of time and placed in fridge until steaming time.  Dust bottoms of uncooked dumplings with tapioca or wheat starch to prevent sticking.

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 12 minutes while water is on full boil the entire time.  Eat Ha Gao fresh, right out of the steamer with soy sauce or chilli sauce for dipping.

Love Dim Sum?  Please check out my other recipes!  And as Chinese New Year comes closer there will be more to come!

Dim Sum Recipe #1:  Siu Mai Dumplings

Dim Sum Recipe #2:  Honeyed Pork Buns (Baked Char Siu Bao)

Dim Sum Recipe #4:  Egg Custard Tarts (Dan Tat)

Dim Sum Recipe #5:  Pork & Chive Potstickers