Steamed shrimp rice rolls are a staple at any dim sum restaurant. The homemade versions are even more delicious—just minutes out of the wok, the noodles melt in your mouth. Making them takes a little practice. The rice roll itself needs to be thin enough so you can see the just cooked pink shrimp peering out through the translucent “blanket,” yet it must be sturdy enough to wrap the seafood without any tears or cracks. The soy drizzle should be sweet to highlight the plain steamed rice rolls without taking the spotlight away from shrimp. Every time I make this dish at home, I always wonder why restaurants never charge more for the perfect plate of dim sum.
Whisk the rice flour and tapioca starch in a medium bowl. Slowly add 1 ¼ 1 1/2 cups room temperature water, whisking continuously, until a smooth yet loose mixture forms. Try to break up any little lumps and be sure to mix in any flour on the sides of the bowl. Let sit for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the soy sauce, sugar and 1 tablespoon water in a small saucepan over low heat, whisking occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved, about 2 minutes. Stir in the sesame oil. Set aside.
Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels and transfer to a bowl. Add a generous pinch of salt and white pepper. Toss until fully combined. Set aside.
Set a steamer rack in a large wok or wide pot and fill with water up to the rack, about 2 inches. Bring to a full boil over high heat with the lid on.
Generously grease two 8-inch nonstick round metal cake pans with vegetable oil, about 2 teaspoons. Set one aside. Give the batter a nice whisk to make sure it is fully combined. You will have to do this each time before making a batch. Pour 1/4 cup of batter into the prepared cake pan. It will not fully coat the bottom of the pan.
Adjust the heat under the wok to medium high, carefully remove the lid and place the pan on the rack. Cover and let steam for 15 seconds. Remove the lid again and move the pan around to try to coat the bottom as much as possible; the batter should be slightly set but still loose enough to flow. Cover again and let steam for another 15 seconds. Remove the lid, lay 4 shrimp directly in the center, creating a line down the middle. Let steam for another 90 seconds; the shrimp should be pink and cooked through. Remove the lid and, using oven mitts, remove the pan to a trivet. Let sit for 30 seconds.
Using a silicone or plastic bench scraper or spatula, cut the rice noodle in half, creating 2 semicircles with 2 shrimp on each side. Focusing on one rice noodle semicircle at a time, gently fold over one of the sides to cover the shrimp completely. Fold the remaining side directly on top, tucking the flap under the roll to hide the seam. Repeat with the remaining semicircle. Carefully transfer the rolls to a dinner plate. Repeat with the reserved prepared cake pan.
Continue with the remaining batter and shrimp, whisking the batter each time and using a clean paper towel to wipe down the pans before greasing them with vegetable oil. Otherwise, any residual batter could cause a rip. Drizzle half of the sweet soy mixture all over the rolls and serve the rest on the side.
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