Just like my obsession with potsticker with lacy wings, the story with lotus-shaped dumplings began with a picture I found online. I searched online sources in English trying to find how to shape lotus dumplings, but found nothing. Then I started experimenting with dough — slowly, using kitchen tongs, but I did it! And shared on Facebook. One of my Facebook friends was very kind to find and share a very education video (see Recipe Notes below) in Chinese about these and some other De Fa Chang restaurant dumplings. It amuses me every time, how our virtual friends living all over the world can help us to find answers we wouldn’t be able to find (for different reasons) so quickly any other way! I feel grateful for the chance to be connected to so many passionate foodies and cooks from different countries. Thank you, friends!
荷塘月色 | Moonlight Over the Lotus Pond
莲蓬蒸饺 (steamed lotus dumplings) are part of the that dish. When shaped, they have 13 holes on top. This article suggests these 13 holes symbolize the 13 imperial dynasties that have made Xi’an their capital.
Give Me Some Skin!
My version only looks like De Fa Chang restaurant lotus dumplings. The dough recipe belongs to Andrea Nguyen, and so far it’s the best I tried for steamed dumplings. It has a balanced chewy texture — not too soft and mushy, not too rubbery. Cooked dumplings keep their shape well. If brushed with some oil or melted butter right after steaming, the skins do not overdry and look appetizing. The stuffing is not traditional either. To practice shaping I used round slices of fresh peach dusted with dry mix of sugar and corn starch. I also changed Andrea’s recipe by replacing boiling water + oil with scalded milk + clarified butter. Peach dumplings were served with cream and peach syrup. Then I found another “lazy” stuffing for savory dumplings — large scallops, and another “lazy” sauce to serve them — Gulf Brown shrimp compound butter.
In a bowl, mix bread and all-purpose flours with chopsticks and keep them handy.
Slowly bring milk to simmering. Stir a pinch of salt and add clarified butter to melt. Pour hot milk into the bowl with flours and stir with chopsticks to make crumbs.
Knead the dough until soft and smooth. It will be slightly layered and not 100% elastic. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest for 1 hour in room temp, or refrigerated overnight. It will become completely smooth and elastic.
for scallop dumplings (14 dumplings)
Prepare your steamer — fill the pot with water and start boiling it, line the basket with oil-sprayed parchment paper. Slice scallops in half making two round slices ~1/3" thick. Mix starch, salt, and ground pepper.
Portion the dough and roll 14 skins. Keep the dough you are not working with at the moment covered with plastic wrap. Place a slice of dusted with dry starch mix and 1/2 tsp furikake scallop slice on each skin and shape the dumplings. Place them into the basket.
Steam dumplings for 7 minutes. Prepare a silicon brush and melted butter. Prepare warm plates and spread compound butter on the bottom of each one (1 tsp of compound butter per 1 dumpling to be served). Brush dumplings with butter right after the steaming and serve.
for prawns stuffing (24 dumplings)
Shell and devein prawns. In a bowl combine 2 parts cold water, 1 part ice, and 1 tbsp corn starch. Place prawns into an ice bath, stir and refrigerated for 30 min to 1 hour. During this step, prawns will absorb some starchy water to make filling juicer.
Meanwhile grate ginger and garlc. Finely dice carrots and chop chives. Finely chop frozen pork back fat.
Strain starchy water and chop prawns into puree-like consistency, transfer into a bowl. Place ginger and garlic into a cheesecloth and sqeeze their juices into a bowl with prawns puree. Add fat, carrots, and chives. Add Shaoxing wine, salt, sugar, white pepper, corn starch, hot sesame oil, and egg white. Combine well and whip with a fork for a couple of minutes. Use 1 tbsp per dumpling.
Video: Xi'an Dumplings Shaping Techniques (De Fa Chang Restaurant, 28 Pingan Market, Bell Tower Square, Xi'an, China) Note: Be patient. There are 3 or 4 ads before the video begins. See how to shape Lotus dumpling on 10th minute.