Steamed Crystal Dumplings, A Dim Sum Classic

Oleh : BoyaQQ

Crystal dumplings (水晶饺子 – shuǐjīng jiǎozi) got their name from the beautiful translucent look of the dumpling wrappers.

Although not quite as common or popular as crowd favorite, har gow shrimp dumplings, you’ll see these beauties on carts in restaurants with a bigger dim sum selection.

Delightfully chewy and delicate in flavor, you’ll want to learn how to make this Cantonese dim sum favorite at home.

Crystal Dumplings

Note: This recipe was originally published in March of 2018. We have re-tested and improved the recipe in March 2022 in response to reader comments. We have also re-photographed it and added metric measurements. If you’d like to reference the older version of the recipe, it’s at the bottom of the post. Enjoy!

What Makes a Crystal Dumpling

While crystal dumplings are similar to har gow dumplings, har gow are made with more opaque white wrappers (our recipe uses wheat starch and cornstarch).

It’s the addition of tapioca starch (a root starch, unlike wheat starch and cornstarch) that makes the translucent look of crystal dumplings possible.

We do use wheat starch in these dumplings, however, as it gives the wrapper structure and makes the dough easier to work with.

wheat starch, tapioca starch, and cornstarch

As for the filling, this recipe uses seasoned pork, fragrant shiitake mushrooms, carrots, and bright green spinach.

filling ingredients

This creates a mix of colors peeking through the wrapper, making these dumplings as pretty as they are delicious.

crystal dumplings

While the vibrant colors definitely make for an impressive presentation, once you bite into one of these tasty little dumplings, you’ll find that you may just have a new favorite Chinese dim sum!


Are these wrappers gluten-free?

That’s a great question, and a tricky one! Certainly, you can use gluten-free oyster sauce for the filling (Lee Kum Kee makes a GF oyster sauce—look for the green panda label). However, when it comes to the wrappers, we do use wheat starch. Wheat starch is technically just the starch, isolated from the flour—with the gluten removed. This is likely fine if you have a gluten sensitivity rather than a serious allergy or Celiac’s (though you should always consult a doctor first!). However, some products marketed as gluten-free do contain wheat starch, as long as the wheat starch is what’s called “Codex” wheat starch, which has less than 20 ppm of gluten.

Where can I find Tapioca STarch and Wheat Starch?

You can find these ingredients in most Chinese grocery stores. If you don’t have one locally, you can find these ingredients at some online retailers!

What If I Don’t have a Bamboo Steamer?

You can pan-fry these dumplings using Method 2 on our How to Cook Dumplings Post. You can also steam them on a heatproof plate set on a rack in any pot with a lid that will accommodate it (see our How to Set up a Steamer post), though this is not ideal for dumplings, as condensation will form and drip on to the dumplings and the dish.

Do I Need a Digital Scale?

While you don’t need a digital scale to make this recipe (we provide US customary measurements), we suggest using metric measurements for the best, most accurate results! Just click the “metric” button below the ingredients list in the recipe card!

Crystal Dumplings: Recipe Instructions

Step 1: Make the Dough for the Wrappers

In a bowl, whisk together the wheat starch, tapioca starch, and cornstarch.

Whisking together starches in glass bowl

Add exactly 1¼ cups of water to a medium pot along with the vegetable oil. Cover and bring to a boil. The second it comes to a boil, immediately remove it from the heat (you don’t want too much of it to evaporate away). 

Immediately add about a third of the starch mixture to the just-boiled water in the pot, and stir vigorously with a stiff rubber spatula or wooden spoon. The starch will begin to form both opaque and translucent lumps.

starch mixture with boiling water

Add another third of the starch mixture and mix it for 1 minute until you get a paste-like consistency.

two thirds of starch mixture added to water

Finally, add the rest of the starch and mix for 2 minutes until it forms a shaggy dough. It will look dry, with some starch still not mixed in. Cover the pot tightly, and rest the dough for 5 minutes. 

shaggy dough of starch and water

Lightly dust a clean, dry work surface with some cornstarch. Uncover the pot and begin kneading the dough with the rubber spatula, folding it over repeatedly for 3 minutes. Dust your hands with cornstarch and knead the dough by hand on the work surface until it is smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. The dough should now be smooth, pliable, and relatively stretchy. 

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