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Koi Dim Sum

Updated: Feb 17, 2021

We were probably all taught not to play with our food. But seriously, how could we not sometimes? I watched a few videos on these koi dim sum and had to try to figure it out. We tried 2 different recipes for the skin and they weren't working quite right. Finally we nailed it! Our Koi are filled with a typical har gow filling of shrimp with a little bit of ginger and bamboo shoots. We hope you will give it a try. They are delicious!

This recipe gave me a lot of trouble. Not the filling, the dough. I read many reviews of people having the same problems. It comes down to the water. The water has to be piping boiling hot. It needs to cook the starches. Take my advice and make sure your water is boiling when you add it, otherwise you'll end up with a soupy mess and wasted ingredients.

So now, I proudly present to you my resulting recipe. I tried to use natural food coloring made from pureed beets and carrots for red and orange and for the black, black cocoa and ground black sesame seeds. You can use powdered, gel or liquid food color. Just options. The natural colors don't add much flavor since you're not using much. You don't need 3 colors but you do need orange/red at the very least. I just wanted to try it with 3 colors. Feel free to use a black sesame seed or flax seed for the eyes if you don't want to make black. Keep it simple and stress free!

After you roll out a wrapper, place the side with the most color on the outside for the prettiest result.

Koi Dim Sum (Har Gow - shrimp dumplings)

Ingredients (makes 16 koi)

Shrimp filling

1/2 pound raw shrimp (225g), peeled, de-veined and patted dry, chopped into 1/2" pieces

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon ginger, grated

1/4 cup bamboo shoots, finely chopped

food coloring (natural or artificial - I used carrots, beets and black cocoa and black sesame)


1 cup wheat starch (different from flour; look under ingredients section; find in Asian markets)

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup tapioca starch (if you can't find this ingredient, just use 1/2 cup total corn starch)

1 1/4 cup boiling hot water (310 ml) may need an additional 1 to 2 teaspoons

3 teaspoons vegetable oil, plus one teaspoon for wiping on equipment


round plastic take out cover

rolling pin (optional)

straw (large and small if you have 2 sizes)



Make the filling. In a mixing bowl mix all of the ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Make the dough. In a small saucepan, bring 1 1/4 cups water to a boil. Leave on to simmer.

In a heat proof mixing bowl, mix together the wheat starch, corn starch and tapioca starch. Turn the heat off on the water. Very carefully pour some of the water over the starch mixture and stir at the same time. Keep adding water and stirring till you get a rough looking dough. If it looks too wet, don't add all of the water but it should be just right.

Add oil. When the dough is cool enough for you to handle, start kneading by hand. Knead until you get a smooth dough that feels like playdough.

Color dough. Pull off a quarter cup portion of dough and from that portion, a marble sized portion. Color the larger one red/orange and the marble sized portion black. Knead the colored dough by hand until an even color is achieved.

Knead then roll the white dough into a log about 2" in diameter. Roll the orange dough into a thin log the thickness of a pencil and cut into 35-40 pieces. Roll and flatten each piece then place all over the white log. Gently roll the log to press in the orange dots. Cut the log into 16 pieces. Cover all the pieces of dough with a damp paper towel.

Roll the black dough into a thin log and cut into 32 pieces and roll each of those pieces into tiny balls for the eyes. Set aside under the wet paper towel.

Take one piece of orange and white dough. Roll it into a ball between your hands. Rub it with a tiny bit of oil. Gently flatten it slightly with the palm of your hand. Place the takeout container cover on top and using a circular motion firmly press and spread the dough underneath until it forms a disk about 3 1/2" wide and 2-3 mm thick.

Place a heaping teaspoon of filling in the center. Gently lift the wrapper closest to you and fold over the filling. Do the same with the top and overlap the wrapper covering the filling. Press down near the filling on both open ends to seal.

Use the back of a knife to gently mark some fin lines for the tail then use the sharp side to cut 2 slits separating the tail into 3 parts, shaping them into a flowing tail. Pinch the base of the tail gently to give it shape.

Fold up the head flap up and over the filling and gently shape to round the head and body. Gently pinch the dough from the tail to near the head to make a dorsal fin.

Use the large straw and gently make 2 indentations on the sides of the head. Add the tiny black balls into the middle of the circles to complete the eyes. Use the chopstick to gently make an indentation for the mouth. Shape the mouth a bit.

Turn over to the side and hold the smaller straw at an angle. Gently add indents all over to the side to make scales. Repeat on the other side. Be careful not to puncture the dough.

Repeat steps until all the koi are wrapped.

Place steamer basket over boiling water. Line basket with cabbage leaves, parchment or you can even place each koi on a thin slice of carrot. Place koi in steamer and steam for 8 minutes. Be careful when opening cover. Serve hot with some dipping sauces (or just soy sauce) you can find in the mix and match section. Enjoy!

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