Gluten Free Ha Gao (Xiā jiǎo/Prawn Dumplings)

Since establishing Fruit is not a Pudding,  I haven’t had much time for other kitchen projects, but a hankering for some proper dim sum prompted by the numerous Chinese New Year features on the TV and offers in the supermarkets had me searching all over for a gluten free steamed dumpling recipe. I found several that I thought could be adapted, but settled on this one.

The kind folks at Glutafin offered some advice on how I could replace the wheat starch in the recipe with their multi-purpose white mix which has GF wheat starch as it’s primary ingredient. Unfortunately the Glutafin mix is only available on prescription, I had been saving my sample box for special purposes. If you don’t have the mix or can’t tolerate GF wheat starch, perhaps have a look at this recipe instead – you can replace the taro with potato. If my experience with sweet dumplings is anything to go by, the potato should give the dough a good pliable texture.

Photo 10-02-2013 12 30 02

Gluten Free Steamed Prawn Dumplings

Makes 16 dumplings


For the filling:

  • 175g pack of medium sized cooked prawns
  • 4 or 5 water chestnuts (the rest will be great in a stirfry or salad)
  • 3 tsp cornflour
  • ½ an egg white
  • 1 tsp Chinese rice wine
  • A dash of mirin
  • A dash of toasted sesame oil
  • A dash of gluten free tamari soy sauce
  • A squeeze of cheat’s ginger (or use fresh of course!)

For the dough:

  • 90g Glutafin Select White Multi-Purpose Mix
  • A pinch of xanthan gum
  • 80ml hot chicken stock (I use Kallo stock cubes)
  • 15g tapioca flour (optional – can use more Glutafin mix, I liked the silky texture of the tapioca)


  1. Make the filling: chop the prawns into small pieces of your preferred size and put into a bowl. Finely chop the water chestnuts (or push through a garlic press) and add along with the other filling ingredients. Give it a good mix and set to one side.
  2. Make the dough: weigh the Glutafin mix into a bowl and add the xanthan gum. Pour in the hot stock and mix well with chopsticks to form a sticky batter/dough. If the batter is too liquidy, add a little more flour until you can handle it as one piece.
  3. Making pleats in the dough

    Making pleats in the dough

    Scatter some tapioca flour onto a board and knead the dough thoroughly, adding more tapioca flour a little at a time until it become a smooth dough that doesn’t stick to your hands.

  4. Roll the dough into a sausage and cut into 16 pieces with a knife. Store them under cling film to stop them drying out.
  5. Form each piece of dough into a ball then flatten to make a 3 ½ inch circle. You can either do this by using a rolling pin, or by putting it under baking parchment and flattening with a pan. I found the easiest way was to flatten between your hands.
  6. Form overlapping pleats around the edge of 2/3 of the circle of dough to form a little cup. Place a teaspoon of your filling into the cup, then press the edges together to seal. You shouldn’t need anything to stick it.
  7. When the dumplings are formed, place carefully into a steamer over hot water and steam for 7 minutes. Remove the steamer from the pan and leave to rest for 3 minutes before serving. We had them with a dipping sauce made from tamari and mirin.
We don't have a bamboo steamer, but our normal one worked pretty well

We don’t have a bamboo steamer, but our normal one worked pretty well

We were pretty pleased with the results! Very authentic-tasting dumplings with a great dough texture. The dough was a little more yellow and not transparent like you get in a restaurant, but otherwise satisfied my hankerings. If you aren’t inclined to make dumplings, Marks & Spencer sell steamed prawn dumplings that don’t contain gluten. They microwave pretty quickly and I can heartily recommend them.

Photo 10-02-2013 12 32 05

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s