This starter has been on and off our menu for a couple of years now. It always makes a comeback because it is so popular. The lemongrass broth has a sweetly mysterious flavour and coupled with the highly seasoned prawn (shrimp) gau gees (Chinese dumplings) they combine to make an elegant start to a dinner party.
The glass noodles refer to mung bean flour vermicelli and can be found in any good Asian grocery, dried and bundled up for sale. Once soaked and reconstituted they sit tantalizingly in the broth, like shimmering pale tresses. If you can't find them just substitute dried rice noodles or any thin Asian noodle variety.
This recipe may seem complex, but as all the preparation has been done in advance it only takes a snap to put them together, like most restaurant dishes. The gau gees can even be frozen for up to a few weeks, making the preparation even simpler, just make sure the prawns were fresh before you freeze them as twice frozen shellfish is seldom a wise idea.
2 litres (3 1/2 pints) lemongrass broth
500 gm (1 lb) green (uncooked) large prawns (shrimp), preferably fresh
1 packet of gau gee wrappers, (or wonton wrappers)
2 shallots, peeled and chopped
Roots from 1 bunch coriander, washed and chopped
2 egg whites
2 Tbs cornflour (cornstarch)
1 Tbs fish sauce
1 tsp caster sugar
100 gm dried mung bean vermicelli noodles
1 bunch Chinese cabbage, such as bok choy, washed and finely sliced
1 Tbs sesame oil
First make the broth, a recipe for which can be found here. Peel the prawns and remove the vein that runs along the back. Add to a food processor with the coriander roots and shallots and puree well. Add the egg whites, cornflour, fish sauce and sugar and blend well.
Place a few gau gee wrappers on a clean workbench. Spoon out one teaspoon onto each wrapper and moisten the edges with a little water. Fold over to make half moon shapes and press the edges well to form a seal. Continue until all your mixture is used up, you should end up with around 20 gau gees. Wrap tightly and place in the refrigerator (if you are using them the same day) or freeze until required.
Soak the noodles in hot water for 15 minutes. Bring the lemongrass broth to the simmer. In another pot, bring some water to the boil. Add the gau gees and cook for 5 minutes, add the Chinese cabbage for the last 30 second.
Warm up 6 bowls. Add a handful of noodles to each. Scoop out the gau gees and Chinese cabbage, drain well and divide between the 6 bowls. Ladle over the hot broth and drizzle over a little sesame oil. Maybe scatter with a few coriander leaves.