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Oct 17, 2011

Chinese Jicama Dumplings

'Jicama Dumplings', or in Hokkien Chinese, 'Chai Kueh'. Not to be mistaken for 'Pot Stickers', altho these could easily stick to a pot if you let them.

I was never into Chai Kueh in my younger days, but then, I've never really been into very traditional Chinese foods and snacks. The olden day Chinese would have me burnt on a stake .... wait, i think I've got my wires crossed. Oh, never mind.
Anyway, one day, a friend brought these dumplings over and claimed they were so good, they'd knock my Chinese senses from being dormant for way too long. And, you know what? They did! Not only were my senses awakened, I actually crave for them often. Then one day, TRAGEDY! They stopped selling them! I am so doomed! Oh woe is me and all that drama stuff!
You never know you have it in you until something drastic happens and you find out just how risilient and capable you are (ahem).
Tragedy no more, crave no more!
After scouring the net, I've found several good recipes. The main ingredient is basically yam bean/jicama, then all the other variations come in as in every other recipe.... carrots, bean sprouts, tofu and chinese chives versions. I made mine as how I remembered it to be.
The most important part of this dumpling is actually the skin. Now, this is where I'd got a little confused and had to decide on what to do. Some recipes add glutinous rice flour and some don't. I'm assuming that it makes a whiter looking dough rather than the translucent one that I'm looking for. So, I omitted that.
I'm very happy with the results, filling and skin both altho I would roll out the skin a little thinner the next time. I wasn't sure how elastic the dough would be and if they'd tear while I'm wrapping.
Most of the recipes encourage you to use quite a lot of oil for the dough and also to brush more on while steaming since this is a seriously gooey, sticky, fragile skin. But I'm trying to reduce as much oil as possible without causing the skin to be dry and non-elastic and mainly not have them swimming in oil like some I've seen sold at the stalls. Eck.


about 400 g Jicama / Yam Bean / Bangkuang
about 100 g carrots
2 tbs dried shrimps
5 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbs oyster sauce
2 tbs light soy sauce
1 tbs sugar
1/2 cup water
oil for frying


Rinse and soak dried shrimps until soft. (About 20 mins)
Peel and shred or finely julienne yam bean and carrots into about 3" long strips.
Drain soaked shrimps and squeeze out water. Chop coarsely.
Heat a little oil and saute the garlic and shrimp until fragrant.
Stir in both veges until slightly cooked.
Add in oyster sauce, light soy sauce, sugar and water.
Stir to coat evenly.
Lower heat, cover and simmer. Give it a stir every now and then. Check often to see if you need to add more water.
Cook until vege is soft and translucent but still holding its shape (not too mushy).
Season to taste with salt and pepper. (I didn't add any)
Turn off heat and leave to cool.


165 g wheat starch
85 g tapioca flour
420 g hot boiling water
3 - 5 tbs oil (I used 3 tbs)


Combine wheat starch and tapioca flour in a large, heatproof mixing bowl.
Stir in boiling water until you get an almost translucent dough.
* Note: This was tough to do as the dough was very sticky and firm so I gave up and transferred to my Kenwood Chef mixer with a dough hook to mix and knead.
Once you get a nice translucent dough, cover and leave to rest for about 10 mins.
Add in the oil 1 tbs at a time and knead well after each addition. Keep at it until all 3 tbs oil are used up.
Remove from bowl and shape into a long log and divide into about 30 - 35 pieces, depending on how big you want your dumplings to be.

Prepare the steamer.
Oil the base of your steaming tray. (Some people use parchment paper)

Roll out the little balls of dough into circles (I rolled mine to about 3" in diameter).
Work quickly or the skin will dry up and become too brittle to wrap. Cover with a damp cloth in between.
Spoon a good tbs of jicama filling into the center of the skin.
Bring the two ends together, pleat and pinch to seal.
Arrange the dumplings onto well-oiled steaming tray and steam for 15 - 18 mins or until skin is translucent.
Serve warm with chilli sauce.

Dumplings can be kept in the freezer uncooked.
Place frozen dumplings directly into steamer and steam for about 15 - 18 mins or until translucent.
*Remember to oil the tray your dumplings sit on or use parchment paper to line.


  1. Oh I love these so much - I order something similar from a nearby Chinese place and they're SO good. I tried making something like it once - they were ok, but not really what I was after. These look just perfect! Can't wait to try these... just need to figure out where to buy tapioca flour and wheat starch from :s

  2. First reaction - Chinese Jamaican dumpling sounds like a funky fusion dish. This sounds delicious, I'd love to try it though not too enthusiastic about making it - bit too complex for me. It looks very similar (shape wise) to the Central Asian manty. The filling is completely different, manty has fat, onion and traces of meat. Manty is usually steamed but its possible to buy deep fried version - I presume these Jamaican treats are deep fryable also, but I remember your aversion to large pots of hot oil

  3. Charles: Thanks! Tapioca flour and starch are the same but wheat starch and wheat flour are not. I'd got a little confused there at first. I found the wheat starch at a specialist baking store. Or maybe you might find some at the Chinese supermarts?

    3Cookies: Umm.... it's Jicama, not Jamaica... close, but no sausage. Actually, I've been wanting to ask someone if the font on this blog is difficult to read? Also, I believe the Manty dough is more similar to the pot stickers. This is actually quite starchy and gooey and melts in the mouth. and yeah, I still fear large pots of hot oil.

  4. Manty dough is made with flour and water - its very slightly chewy. Blog layout is great, font is easy to read. I was just trying to be funny. Since you picked on me, I can return the favour by asking whether its necessary to use 'hot boiling water' - can I use cold boiling water:)

  5. You guys are funny!

    So good that you finally were able to enjoy these Chinese (jicama? :) treat! Wouldn't you know it they stopped making them. Happens to me all the time ....grrr....
    I am glad you shared it with us. Now I have something elsr on my list...since I can't go try the real thing from the stalls! It looks good.

  6. your 'Chai Kueh' look so nice and the skin look so thin, well done! must be very yummy too.

  7. It's so hard to buy tasty ones cos the skin is usually thick but I'm so lazy to make my own kekeke

  8. Lyndsey: Actually, it turned out good when they stopped selling them, coz I'd never have learnt to make these if they hadn't. Let me know if you like them when you do make them. Enjoy!

    Sonia: Hello. Thank you, and yes, I was happy with it, they were nice!

    babe_kl: You are right, that's why I was so devastated when my regular supplier stopped making them. But like I told Lyndsey, something good turned out of this tragedy. :D

  9. Ping, how do you know I just bought a packet of Wheat starch? I think you heard me from far away. Or is it wise men think alike or fools don't defer?? hehe No, I am not kidding. I bought it with the intention to look for the recipe for chai kueh and try making it. I love chai kueh that has a ultra thin skin and lots of filling. I can eat 5 at one go!

  10. QPC: You did? Really? What a coincidence! Haha! "Great Lucys think alike" is more like it :D Mmm yeah, I agree, can never stop at one that's why I freeze them in batches of 6! Have fun making them, I did!

  11. Ping, your dumplings look so perfectly made! I have never tried making homemade dumplings, and you just inspired me to! But I'm not sure if I have the patience to make the skins.

  12. o, gosh, love them!!! I could eat tons...

  13. Oh! I love these kind of dumplings...often order in dim dum...yours look awesome, would love to have one of this right now. Great pictures as well Ping.
    Hope you are having a fantastic week and thanks for this yummie treat!

  14. Ping-I love Chinese dumplings, or dumplings of any are the expert in making these yummy little gems. Theingredients alone are "Greek" to me, LOL meaning that I would not know where to start to get them unless, I would google the nearest places, and most importantly...I would need a step-by-step direction, which would mean you would have to start photographing your method of making these gems...or...otherwise, I would have to show up on you doorstep, to get private lessons from you!
    Am I not fair?...ha, ha...I thought so:DDD

  15. Tina: Hi there! Thank you so much! Very encouraging indeed since it's my first attempt. It's not really that time consuming... quite therapeutic actually, rolling, filling, pinching, shaping ....

    something_good: Oh yeah! Very addictive indeed!

    Juliana: Thanks very much! Have a great week as well!

    Elisabeth: Hello. Oh no, an expert I am not but thank you so much for the compliment. Still plenty of room for improvement. Hmm ... I would think you could get the ingredients from an Asian grocer. Unfortunately, I'm quite the klutz when doing a step by step. And this recipe would be quite messy with oily hands, I'd probably end up with an oiled lens and blurry pictures ... or I could call it "special effects" LOL!!! Showing up at my doorstep sounds good too! :D

    Amanda: Haha! Make some! :D

  16. Ping, hi!

    Those look gorgeous and your description makes me want to try a hand at those too - but I have a deathly (read: turn white and hide under desk) fear of making dumpling skins. Do you think the potsticker or wonton skins would work for this filling, or would that be too much of an abomination? ;)

    Hmm, now I am tempted to buy one of those bamboo steaming baskets, too!

    - Veronika

  17. Ping, I have made these skins several times with exactly the same recipe (given by a Vietnamese grocery shop assistant ;-) I remember he said it would be very difficult. I found them extremely difficult and tricky indeed. They were always delicious I admit (I could eat them even empty), but soooo thick! (compared to what I have in Chinese restaurants).
    It's definitely my favourite type of dumpling skins!
    Your dumplings look perfect and I like your original, very appetising photos! How do you do make sure the skins are thin?
    Charles, you can probably buy tapioca flour and wheat starch in Chinese supermarket (XIIth arrondissement). I have them in all the Chinese shops here.

  18. They look so good! You made the wrappers yourself? Amazing! I never knew how they could make the slightly translucent skin, but it seems like you’ve nailed it! Good job!

  19. I wish the people at the Asian market behind me would talk to me because I would bring in my phone, with your posts up and ask them to show me where to get some of these ingredients - or if they had some (because they have some pre-made things on hand) to try. These sound so different to me, and different always makes me want to take a bite :D

  20. eattheroses: Hi Veronika. Thanks! Haha! It's really not that scary. If I can do this, anyone can .... I'm serious, not being modest. And no, unfortunately, wonton and potsticker skins just won't do. The whole idea about this dumpling is the skin and its texture. Btw, I didn't use a bamboo steamer, mine is a stainless steel one (gone are traditions).

    Sissi: Hmm ... I guess you could add more oil to the dough while mixing to make it more pliable and then easier to roll it out thinner. I flattened mine to about 1 - 1 1/2 mm thin. I think for this amount of starch, 3 tbs is the minimum amount of oil to use. Any less and the skins will tear easily and the texture may not be as smooth. I hope Charles saw your comment.

    Lilly: Hi Lilly! and thanks much :D

    Kita: Haha! You mean they don't speak English? I could tell you in writing how to say it but then the intonation might get screwed up and you might get arrested instead! LOL!!

  21. Thank you, Ping! If I remember well, I have put only oil on my hands, not into the dough...

  22. Oh, my! Ping, your dumplings are simply beautiful! And I had to laugh when you said you loved bars, but not the drinking kind :) Me, too!

  23. Ping...your dumplings looks delicious and your pleats are nice too. Now you have me craving for it and all your fault! :) Thanks for the recipe. I shall try it one day. Btw , I have put up the link to the pissaladiere recipe. The dough recipe is here. I can't put the recipe on my blog...that is the rule, Lucky someone has put the recipe up here


  24. Thanks, Elin. I guessed as much you couldn't post the recipe so thanks very much for the effort of providing me with the link. I definitely will try it out.

  25. Hi Ping! I love these but sadly this is one thing I do not know how to make gluten free successfully. Most things I can adapt but the abscence of gluten in the flours I'd use doesn't allow a succesful translation. Will just oogle at yours!

    Had meant to email last week as I made Auntie Choo's Nonya Curry again. It is THE best! I thnk of you and 'A.C.' whenever I pass the recipe along and love being able to make her personal curry powder; such an honor. Hope you are well!

  26. Boulder Locavore: Hey! Hi! So nice to see you again! Aww ... yes, unfortunately this needs the starchy stuff.
    Mum will be happy you like her recipe and consider it the best. I will let her know. Thank you.

  27. haha.....I wasn't much into very traditional chinese foods when i was young either ;) I love how you can find a recipe for almost anything you want on the internet now- so you can recreate almost anything you want to! These look delicious! Well they must be, if they were enough to convert you! :P

  28. Von: Hello. Oh yes, the internet is quite the life saver for me most times. Haha! Yes, they were nice enough but I'm sure there's plenty of room for improvement too! Thanks for dropping by.

  29. Hi Ping, your Hokkien dumpling looks perfect! In Hong Kong we have Cantonese and Chu Chaw Dumplings but I think there is only a little difference in the fillings. They are sticky things to make and you've done a good job. I use water instead of oil to prevent sticking during rolling the pastry so that's not so oily. I think the one that use glutinous flour is less transparent and they're Cho San dumpling that steamed with banana leaves.

  30. Hi Veronica. Thank you! Just water? Really? I'd like to do that next round. I'd prefer it to be less oily altho this wasn't that bad compared to the commercial ones. I don't believe I've had Cho San dumplings ... Cho San, as in Good morning? So cute!

  31. how interesting! my grandma makes something similar, but without a recipe, of course. I find it so amusing that my grandma can cook such complicated things without recipes. I guess when you get older, you get wiser too. getting back on topic, they look really yummy too!

    1. Yeah, the older generation seem to have a knack for making things without any guide. I'd be so lost and what turns out could be major disasters! Can't wait til I get wiser :D