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Dec 23, 2008 05:29 AM

Wheat Flour vs Wheat Starch ?

I've searched the web and this forum and its still not clear to me.

I'm trying to make the translucent dough for the more common dim sum dumplings. Most recipes call for some form of wheat starch + tapioca starch or flour (+ boiling water and oil).

Does anyone know the the difference between flour and starch? I thought that starch was a by product after glutens are removed from flour, but many of the recipes seem to use the ingredients (flour/starch) interchangeably which doesn't make sense.

From what I can tell, tapioca starch and tapioca flour are one and the same, but wheat flour and wheat starch are very different.

My asian grocery had the wheat starch in the same section with the tapioca flour/starch as well as a variety of other startches (yam, corn ,arrowroot, etc). The wheat flour however, was in a much bigger bag in the regular american flour section.

Seems like the key to the dough is a non glutinous flour product.

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  1. It sounds as though you have the differences figured out. Tapioca is probably all starch to begin with, so its 'flour' and 'starch' are the same thing.

    'flour' in general just refers to the texture, the fine grind.
    'starch' is a specific carbohydrate, or a product high in that. The wiki article on starch gives an overview. I don't see mention of wheat starch there, probably because wheat is not a common source. But in China, wheat gluten is a common meat alternative. Their wheat starch is likely to be a byproduct of gluten production.

    1. It sounds like you want to make har gau dumpling dough; though I have been hugely unsuccessful in my attempts thus far, I believe you will need to use wheat starch (it is white and looks a lot like corn starch); do not use wheat flour which is more brown in color. Also, if you "google" har gau dough recipes, you will find many examples.

      1. Do the recipes that use wheat flour use more tapioca starch in an effort to keep the overall gluten level low enough?

        1 Reply
        1. re: paulj

          Paulj - I think the recipes that call for wheat flour really mean wheat starch.

          I've made plenty of dumplings with the flour based wrapper recipe (aka gyoza or potstickers). This is a more 'doughy' like wrapper.

          From what I can tell the translucent dim sum wrappers all require some form of wheat starch and or tapioca starch. (standard recipe is 1 1/4 c wheat starch + 1/4c tapioca starch + 1 tbsp veg oil + 1tsp salt + 1 c boiling water)

          Bakerboyz - yes, I am trying to get a Har Gow style wrapper, but thicker - in this case, I'm after the round shrimp & chive steamed and fried dumplings. I will give this a try this weekend/ From what I've heard, its very important that the water for the dough be boiling vigorously for several minutes before mixing with the starches. If the water is cooled off even for just a few seconds. the starch will not get cooked and the dough will fall apart. The dough should take on a chalky white appearance. It will take on a more transparent look when you steam the dumplings.