These shu mai (Cantonese) or shao mai (Mandarin) in any language are tasty little bites of pork and shrimp wrapped up in a thin flour dough. They are a must-have at any dim sum table, in Hong Kong or in America.
I apologize for the bad lighting in this picture, but the taste of these dumplings more than makes up for it. You’ll just have to trust me on that!
I have been holding off on making these shu mai for years because I could not imagine myself steaming them in anything else but a real bamboo steamer basket. It just wouldn’t be right!
There is nothing that makes me feel more Asian than my Chinese kitchen gadgets. I love my wok, electric rice cooker, bamboo spider (sieve), and now this steamer.
I asked for a bamboo steamer for my birthday this year. The first place my husband looked was at Sur la Table……really honey?! Don’t get me wrong, I love this store, but I just could not see myself owning a Chinese bamboo steamer that came from such a French-sounding store. I just couldn’t live with myself.
We made several special trips to many Chinese grocery stores and finally found my much-coveted steamer. It was sitting there on the shelf, just waiting for me to come and rescue it and make it a part of my family, which it now is!
And no, I haven’t named it or anything!
Okay, let’s get down to business. Here are the wrappers you will need. These or wonton wrappers will work too.
I love ginger! This dish really does need it. The French have their mirepoix of carrot, onion and celery. The Italians have their holy trinity of onion, bell pepper and celery. Well, I think that the Chinese equivalent is ginger, garlic and scallions. The aroma is just so distinctly Chinese, you can’t go wrong with these three ingredients.
Make sure all the aromatics are chopped finely. These are little bites of dumplings, so you want to make sure it’s all evenly distributed.
You know how I mentioned my Chinese kitchen gadgets? Here is another one I love, my humongous cleaver. This thing can take your arm off if you’re not careful! I use it for chopping through chicken bone………no joke.
Who needs a food processor when you have a ginormous cleaver like this? Chop that shrimp up, but leave it a bit chunky. Don’t mash it into a paste, we want to maintain the texture of the shrimp.
Even though I was born in Taiwan, I was raised in America, so I never learned to read Chinese. If anyone would like to translate the words on my cleaver for me, I would be much obliged!
All my ingredients are combined. If you really want to make sure this tastes good, you can take a spoonful of this filling and cook it up in a pan and do a taste test. My mom would do this sometimes if she was cooking for important company and she wanted to make sure it tasted right.
Put about that much of the filling in your wrapper. I didn’t do it here, but you can brush the edges of the wrapper with an egg wash, so it sticks to the filling better.
Slowly close your fingers around the wrapper and bring up the edges to the top. I used a spoon to flatten down the top and make sure they all looked even.
You want to make sure you put something down between the steamer basket and the shu mai because they will stick. I lay down leaves of cabbage and allow it to steam until they are wilted, then lay my dumplings down. Who needs parchment paper, right?
Pork and Prawn Dumplings (Shu Mai)
1 cup ground pork
1 cup raw shrimp, shelled, deveined, and coarsely diced
2 scallions/green onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp freshly chopped ginger
2 tsp finely chopped garlic
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp Shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry
4 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
Pinch sea salt
Pinch freshly cracked black pepper
20 shu mai or wonton wrappers
Mix the pork, shrimp, onion, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, rice wine, cornstarch, sesame oil, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Stir to combine the ingredients.
Take 1 wonton wrapper and place 2 teaspoons of the filling in the center. Then, gather up the sides of the wrapper and mold it around the filling into a ball-like shape, leaving the center exposed.
Cook’s Note: Ensure you pinch the wrapper around the filling firmly. To help, you can brush the wonton wrapper with egg wash to prevent wrappers from opening up and separating from the filling once cooked.
Line the bottom of a bamboo steamer with leaves of cabbage. Arrange the dumplings in the steamer, cover with a lid and place it over a pan of boiling water, making sure the water does not touch the base of the steamer. Steam the dumplings for 6 to 8 minutes, or until cooked.