Crystal Skin Dim Sum Wrapper 水晶皮製作

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Have you ever had Dim Sum 點心?  You know, that Cantonese teahouse tradition where tea is paired with tiny delectable dishes or steamers of sweet or savory treats.  Sooo goood!  And in the midst of these delectable treats have you ever had those dumplings where the skin was transparent enough to see through to the inside filling?  So amazing amirite?!  

Well these thin transparent wrappers are known as Crystal Skin Wrappers, 水晶皮.  So delicate these wrappers: thin enough to see through yet strong enough to pleat and hold the shape of the dumplings with ease.  Check out the beautiful Har Gow 蝦餃 shrimp dumplings (photo above) that we made with this crystal skin!

Tricky wrappers to make but we managed through much trial and error to get it just right.  Check out how to make the most excellent Crystal Skin Dim Sum Wrappers 水晶皮, both thin enough to see through and yet pliable and easy enough to work with to make and hold the pleats necessary for these fancy dim sum dumpling shapes.

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For this crystal skin wrapper we need tang flour 澄粉 (which is also known as wheat starch) and potato starch 土豆澱粉.  Note that potato starch is also often just loosely translated as 生粉 in which case you need to check the actual ingredients to confirm if it actually uses potato starch.  

It’s important to note that some crystal skin recipes use alternatives like tapioca starch or cornstarch.  Don’t know if these work.  I think they might but haven’t tried.  But potato starch does for sure.  And don’t substitute sweet potato starch, that’s different.

I got tang flour at my local wet market (ask the noodle guy) and I’ve recently seen it pop up in some supermarkets.  Potato starch we can always get at the Japanese grocery store.

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An interesting part of the process of making this crystal skin is that the tang flour/potato starch mixture is scalded with boiling hot water.  This creates a gelatinous texture to the dough.  

This scalding, according to most recipes we tried, was the key to this wrapper.  But even with the scalding our wrappers were coming out hard to work with and with end result of a thick and chewy mouthfeel.

However, finally we had a breakthrough!!  It turns out that you scald all the tang flour and only a portion of the potato starch!  This is the key!  

Mix up flour/partial portion of starch/hot water as quickly and thoroughly as you can.  As you can see mine came out kinda lumpy and very sticky.  There also were still tiny lumps of uncooked flour dotted through.  Maybe I didn’t stir fast enough?  Not sure but it didn’t affect the final result that I could see.

The scalded flour is then covered and rested for a bit.

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This step of holding back a portion of the starch until after the scalding changed the game for us!  It made what had before been a most difficult and persnickety dough just so easy to work with.

The rest of the potato starch is then kneaded into the hot dough.  It will seems kinda impossible at first to knead it all in but just keep at it.  The dough will eventually soak in all that dry starch and form a smooth, non-sticky, pliable white dough.  Cover it and let it rest again for a bit.

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Your smooth and silky crystal skin dough is done and ready to wrap some gorgeous dim sum dumplings.  Made with our method, the dough is so easy to roll out, shape and pleat.  And importantly, when steamed, your dumplings will have a thin translucent skin that allows the flavor and texture of the filling to stand out.

What next with the dough?  Well, to make it easy to portion out the dough use your hands to roll the dough out into logs.  Start with your hands in the middle and roll out towards the sides until your roll is 3/4″ in diameter.  From this log you can easily weigh out and cut out portions for the wrapper.

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It’s important to weigh out the portions to keep the dumpling sizes the same.  While working cover the rest of the dough with cling wrap to keep it moist.

The crystal skin wrapper is traditionally made using the side of a cleaver.  That’s right I said a cleaver!  The chefs make it look so easy, just a press of the cleaver and a beautifully thin wrapper is made.  Chef’s version of sleight of hand!  

I, apparently, have no cleaver magic, try that I might.  So I did it my way with a regular ‘ol rolling pin and my secret weapon, a thin silicon mat.  Silicon mats are so awesome!

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The mat makes it easy to roll out super thin which makes your wrapper look so professional.  The reason is because the wrapper will stick to the silicon mat as you roll it out.  And when done rolling you can also still peel that incredible thinness off the silicon no problem.

The rolled out wrapper should be so thin that you can just start to see through it.  That’s good and means that you’re going to get a lovely see thru skin to show off your delicious filling.  Check out our video below to see the in-depth details of rolling and wrapping a crystal skin dumpling.

Please enjoy our crystal skin 水晶皮 recipe.  If you’re like us and have already tried multiple recipes to only end with so-so results after a lot of effort, we hope that this easy and smooth crystal skin recipe will make it up to you!

Try out this delicate crystal skin wrapper with our yummilicious Har Gow Shrimp Dumpling recipe.  We’ll post more dim sum dumplings using this translucent crystal skin soon so stayed tuned!

Crystal Skin Wrapper Recipe 水晶皮製作
(makes 20 wrappers)  Prep time: 10 mins   Cook time: 0 mins

Ingredients:

Dough wrapper:

Directions:

Scald the flour:  Mix all the tang flour, 1/4 of the potato starch and lard in a bowl.  Add the boiling hot water into the mixture, stirring as you do.  Try to stir everything together as quickly as you can.  The mixture will get really sticky but just go at it.  Cover and let it rest for 4 mins.

Knead in starch: Add the rest of the starch to a working surface and knead that starch into the hot dough.  It will take a couple of minutes but all the starch will be absorbed by the dough.  The dough will become smooth and not sticky.  Cover and let the dough rest 5 mins.

Roll dough to logs: Weigh and slice the dough in half and then roll out to 3/4 inch diameter logs.  To roll out start in the middle with the palms of both hands and roll outwards towards two sides.  The log will gradually lengthen to desired length.  

Weigh out portions: Slice each log to 10 equal portions, weighing 10g each, for a total of 20 portions.  

Roll out wrappers: Covering the rest of the portions to keep them moist, roll one portion into a ball.  Flatten onto a silicon mat and roll out to a 3 1/4 inch diameter wrapper.  This size is appropriate for most dim sum dumplings.  Use right away to wrap dumplings.  

Enjoy some dim sum dumpling love!

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