Siu Mai: Pork And Shrimp Steamed Dumplings
Today is the Lunar New Year, and we’d like to wish you a HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR EVERYBODY!!! I won’t embarrass myself by trying to stumble through rounds of viciously mispronounced “Gung hay fat choy!!” but you know that I’m thinking it. The only Cantonese that I’ve plundered my way through over the years is “hello”, “thank you”, “I am very smart” and a selection of salty language which I heartily enjoy pulling out of my pocket when we go for dim sum.
Preparation for the Chinese New Year is an elaborate affair, starting in the month before the lunar new year. There are new year visits to kin and friends, shopping for new clothes to ring in the year with luck and style, and one’s house is given a thorough scrubbing. I think of cleaning as an unfortunate necessity that Mike gets to do, but I’m all over the other stuff. Oh, and then there is the massive preparation and consumption of food. I’m down with that one as well. So, because the two of us borrow shamelessly from other cultures as any excuse to have a party, we had a group of our kin and friends over for dumplings on Saturday and raised a glass to the New Year!
Siu Mai: Pork And Shrimp Steamed Dumplings
Makes about 3 dozen
- 500 g extra lean ground pork
- 300 g cooked shrimp *
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp oyster sauce
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp mirin
- 1.5 tsp sugar
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp minced ginger root
- 2 shiitake mushrooms
- 1/2 cup bamboo shoots
- salt to taste
- frozen peas for garnish
- 2 packages of round dumpling wrappers, each 7 oz **
* The shrimp will be chopped up and steamed again, so you really don’t need to break the budget buying top quality seafood for these dumplings. The little bags of frozen ‘salad shrimp’ are fine.
** Dumpling wrappers, aka dumpling skins or Shu Mai/Siu Mai wrappers are thinner than wonton skins and slightly yellow. They are ideal for steaming but don’t hold up too well to frying. If you can’t find dumpling wrappers then wonton wrappers are a good second choice. The wrappers that I’ve used here are wonton wrappers, because after spending half an hour trying to get a parking spot at T&T (and failing) I gave up and went to the suspiciously quiet No Frills up the road instead. This is all that they had, but it was enough to quell my parking-induced Saturday morning rage attack, so that’s good enough for me.
Put the minced pork into a bowl and add the mirin, sesame oil, soya sauce, oyster sauce, sugar and cornstarch. Press or grate the garlic cloves in as well, along with the ginger. My all time favorite kitchen tool is my microplane (from a…hardware store? Really? No matter, it’s amazing) which makes short work of ginger, garlic, and just about everything else – including fingernails if you’re not careful.
If you’re using dried shiitake mushrooms, then you first need to reconstitute them through a relaxing soak in some hot water for a half hour or so. Or, if you’re lazy like me (and your second choice grocery store doesn’t have dried shiitake) the canned ones are fine.
Cut off the tough stems and then slice the ‘shrooms into paper thin strips before giving a rough chop and adding to the pork.
Mince the bamboo shoots very finely (no larger than 1/8″, please) and add them to the mix.
Finely chop the shrimp until it looks minced and entirely unrecognizable. You can refer to this as The Seafood Formerly Known As Shrimp, if you like. Or not. You could not do that too.
Add the shrimp to the pork mixture and mix it by hand until everything is combined and dispersed. Ooh, that sounds a bit like a directive from the Chairman – “COMBINE AND DISPERSE!!!” I likes.
If you’re used to making meatballs, the texture here might throw you off. It’s loose, slightly wet and very sticky. Not to worry, however, the cornstarch will make quick work of that when they steam.
There are some dishes which you can salt at the end of preparation and they’ll be just as good. Unfortunately, dumplings aren’t one of them. Check the seasoning of your filling by frying up a small patty with a little bit of olive oil, and add salt to taste.
Lay your wrapper on the table and dollop a good tablespoon (or thereabouts) of filling onto the middle. Gently gather up the edges, pleating them as you go, to make a crimped and frilly little bundle with an exposed top. Finish the dumpling by pressing a frozen pea on top.
Place the dumplings in a bamboo steamer basket in a single layer so that they’ll cook evenly. This is one of my smaller bamboo steamer inserts because the larger ones were busy cooking up steamed mushrooms with sesame pork filling – post to come soon! You may want to lightly oil the bottom of your steamer basket to make sure that the dumplings don’t stick.
Use a pot which is close in size to the bamboo steamer which needs to sit snugly on top. Bring a few inches of water to a rolling boil and steam the dumplings, covered of course, for 10 minutes or until they’re cooked through and firm to the touch.
Siu Mai can be served with a chili sauce, chili oil, soy sauce, or your favorite dumpling sauce. The one below is just a mixture (without any measuring, my apologies) of soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil, chili oil, chili garlic sauce, and rice wine vinegar.
Siu Mai, like many Asian dumplings, freezes really well. Just in case you can’t eat three dozen dumplings in a single sitting, they’re great to have on hand to steam up for an easy weeknight dinner. Freeze them in a single layer, making sure that they don’t touch. After they’ve had time to freeze through you can pack them into plastic freezer bags and they’ll keep their integrity for a couple of months. You can also steam them directly from the frozen state, which is a great advantage in my opinion – just allow them extra cooking time to compensate.
Do you ever have those moments where you think, “Gee, I need to tell somebody something” and then you get distracted by something shiny and totally think that you told them when you really didn’t? Or where you THOUGHT the statement quite vehemently, you just didn’t actually say it out loud? Well, it could be that we have a friend with a seafood allergy. It could also be that I slapped the plate of dumplings down on the table then went shooting back upstairs to grab something else. I’m guessing that somebody filled him in, however, because nobody got airlifted to the hospital in a state of severe anaphylaxis.
Anyway, Friend With Seafood Allergy, we weren’t really trying to kill you. Even though it must seem that way since we also sent you home with the leftovers……
HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR!!!!!!