• Snapper dumpling tom yum soup (China Squirrel)

It's all about the broth - sour, salty, hot. Invest time in building complexity in the prawn stock. My daughter drinks this like water.






Skill level

Average: 4 (12 votes)

Instead of using wonton wrappers, I encase the snapper dumplings with spinach leaves. The trick to cooking the dumplings without them falling apart is to wrap the entire dumpling - leaf and all - in plastic wrap, forming a tight nugget, which you poach. Nothing goes to waste in this dish - I fry the skin from the snapper and top off the soup with it.


Prawn stock

  • 8 king prawn heads and shells
  • 1.5 litres water
  • 4 coriander roots, cleaned
  • 2 stalks lemongrass
  • 5 cm piece young galangal
  • 8 white peppercorns
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves 


Tom yum soup

  • 500 ml (2 cups) prawn stock (from above)
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, chopped and bruised
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1-2 birdseye red chillies, sliced 


Snapper dumpling

  • 125 g snapper fillet, skin on
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp chopped lemongrass
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 coriander roots, cleaned
  • 5 green birdseye chillies
  • 4 cm piece young galangal, chopped
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped red Asian shallot
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped spring onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 8 large Chinese spinach (Malabar spinach) leaves (see Note) 


To serve

  • 1 long red chilli, deseeded, finely diced
  • 35 g enoki mushrooms
  • 1 bunch coriander
  • 1 tbsp salmon roe

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


For the prawn stock, toast the prawn heads and shell in a dry large saucepan over high heat for 5 minutes or until the shells have turned red and are slightly charred.

Add the remaining ingredients and gently simmer for 30-45 minutes or until the flavours have developed.

Strain the stock, discarding the solids.

For the tom yum soup, measure out 500 ml of the strained stock, return the stock to the saucepan, add the lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, lemon juice, lime juice and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the chillies, remove from the heat and keep warm.

For the dumplings, remove the skin from the snapper and set the fillet aside. Heat the oil in a small frying pan over high heat, when hot, add the skin and cook until crispy. Remove from the pan and set aside to garnish the soup.

Check that there aren’t any bones in the snapper, season with salt and roughly chop.

Place the lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, coriander root, chillies, galangal, shallot, spring onion and garlic and process until finely chopped.

Add the fish, fish sauce and a pinch of salt and blend until a fine mince. Transfer to a bowl.

Blanch the spinach leaves in boiling water for 30 seconds or until soft – they should be malleable but not breaking apart. Remove and pat dry on paper towel.

Take a 30 cm square of plastic wrap and place a leaf in the centre.

Place 1 teaspoon of the snapper mixture in the centre of the leaf, then take the ends of the plastic wrap together so the leaf encloses the filling to form a parcel. Twist the ends together and tie to form a watertight seal. Repeat with the remaining leaves and filling.

Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, add the dumplings and cook for 5 minutes.

Remove from the pan, unwrap the plastic wrap and place the dumplings in serving bowls.

Ladle the stock into the bowls, top the dumplings with the salmon roe, enoki mushrooms, coriander leaves, diced chilli and crispy snapper skin.


Cook’s notes

You can substitute Chinese spinach with English spinach.


Photography, styling and food preparation by China Squirrel


This recipe is from The Chefs' Line - a brand new series airing weeknights at 6pm on SBS. Can the passion of a home cook beat the skills of a professional chef? Missed all the action? Catch-up online and get all the recipes #TheChefsLine.

This recipe has been edited by SBS Food and may differ slightly from the series.