Ham Sui Gok (鹹水角) at the Chu Shing Restaurant in Ottawa
The Chu Shing Restaurant in Ottawa’s Chinatown is one of my favorite spots for Dim Sum when visiting the capital. Usually, the dishes are top-notch, but there are occasional failures. The 鹹水角, or ‘Ham Sui Gok’ I was served on this particular occasion were definitely not up to par.
The style of dumpling known as ‘Ham Sui Gok’ in Cantonese (Xiánshuǐ jiǎo in Mandarin), are sometimes called ‘Footballs’, or ‘Football Dumplings’ in North America for fairly obvious reasons. The dough is made with wheat starch, glutinous rice flour, plus sugar and oil, and it is deep-fried, resulting in a shell that is slightly crispy on the exterior and delightfully soft and chewy inside. The dumpling filling is most commonly pork, with a few vegetable additions sometimes, but other meats or seafood can be used too.
At Chu Shing, the 鹹水角 were very nicely formed and looked pretty on the plate, but they were not very good beyond that. The exterior, as you can see, has a nice golden appearance and looks as though it should be crispy. Sadly, it was not crispy at all and I suspect that these Ham Sui Gok had been in steaming in the Dim Sum push-cart for a bit too long. The inside, moreover, were unpleasantly doughy and pasty to the bite, rather than having the toothsome chewiness that is standard.
These were pork filled Ham Sui Gok, and, as is common in restaurants, it was ground pork in a fairly small amount. Part of the reason that 鹹水角 are less than completely filled is that the air expands during cooking leaving a ‘cavern’ with just a small amount of added ingredients inside. Here though, as you can see if you look closely, the filling is very scant indeed and, indeed, except for the five-spice seasoning that was used, was barely detectable to the taste. In short, these Ham Sui Gok were a disappointment.