Shui gao dough

Shui gao dough

Simple rolling & chinese rolling technique

Hong Kong Diner
25-30 dumplings
Kris Kirkham

If you have never made them before, dumplings can be one of the most daunting things to tackle in the kitchen. Once you get going, however, and learn a FEW SIMPLE FOLDS, you’ll find it easier to pick up more intricate techniques. The key is to start small and simple, and little by little work your way up. If you are making dumplings for the first time, I suggest using readymade dough. You can find it both fresh and frozen in most Chinese supermarkets. It really is the best way to start to BUILD YOUR DUMPLING-MAKING CONFIDENCE. For the more experienced dumpling maker (or for those who are that unique combination of brave and ballsy), try this simple recipe for a great all-round dumpling dough. It’s completely interchangeable in any of the following dumpling recipes and will make a DELICIOUS MEAL, whatever the filling.


Quantity Ingredient

The dough

Quantity Ingredient
250g medium-gluten wheat flour, or plain flour
25g tapioca flour
A pinch salt
170ml boiling water
25g vegetable oil


  1. Put the flour, tapioca flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Using a spatula or a wooden spoon, gradually mix in the boiling water, until all the flour has come away from the sides of the bowl. Lastly, add the oil, then start to knead the dough well by hand for 5 minutes. Alternatively, you can use an electric dough mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment; start on a low speed for the first minute or so, then knead well on a high speed for 2–3 minutes.
  2. Once you have a smooth dough, form it into a ball, scraping the dough off the sides of the mixing bowl. Rub with a little oil, put it back into the bowl, then cover with a damp tea towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  3. If making the dough itself is as adventurous as you want to be for now (or if you’re just too hungry to have patience), rolling out the dough into 2 or 3 large pieces, as thin as possible, and taking a 7cm square or round biscuit cutter (depending on the recipe and the shape you would like to fold) to it is the best way forward.
  4. However, if you are now thinking you are closer to becoming a dumpling maverick, the traditional way to roll a round dumpling pastry is to roll each and every piece of dough into an individual sheet. This is usually done with a specific dim sum rolling pin, a thin wooden stick that looks very much like the end of a broom, and sometimes even thinner.
  5. If you are inclined to become a true dim sum master, here’s how to practise the right movement:

    First, roll a third of the rested dough into a long cylinder, roughly 1.5cm thick, keeping the remainder of the dough covered so it doesn’t dry out. Cut the cylinder into 1cm chunks.
  6. Roll each piece of dough into a small ball and set aside. Before rolling each individual piece, dust the work surface with a good amount of plain flour (all-purpose flour) or medium-gluten wheat flour. Take a piece of dough and push down on it with your palm to form a small circle. With the dough still resting on the floured surface, with your left or non-dominant hand, using your thumb and fingers underneath the edge of the dough, begin to turn the dough anti-clockwise, with the base of the pastry sitting on the surface at all times. (I use my middle finger as the ‘hub’ to the wheel of pastry.)
  7. While you are turning the pastry, using your right or dominant hand along with a small rolling pin, with a relevant amount of force roll inwards towards the centre of the forming circle, allowing your pressure to ease up when rolling outwards towards the edges of the circle. Turn the pastry anti-clockwise with your non-dominant hand and continue this rolling process, eventually forming a small circle with a slightly thicker hump of dough in the middle. This thickness will help to protect the filling from breaking through the thin pastry, keeping your dumpling perfectly intact.

Cooking method

  • The same cooking method can be used for all of the dumpling shapes that follow.

    Fill a large pot or wok with water, add a pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Gently add your dumplings and boil for 3–4 minutes, or until they begin to float to the surface, signalling they are cooked. Remove using a spider or slotted spoon and serve with the following dipping sauce.

    Dipping sauce

    1/2 teaspoon Chiu Chow chilli oil

    1 tablespoon oyster sauce

    1/2 tablespoon light soy sauce

    100ml chicken stock (or Classic Chinese broth)

    Combine the dipping sauce ingredients in a small pan, mixing well. Gently heat, reducing the sauce slightly, then pour into a dipping bowl and serve with fresh dumplings.
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