Shu mai, siu mai, shumai, or shaumai. No matter how you say it or write it, shu mai is an outstanding Chinese dim sum appetizer that no one can seem to get enough of, at least not in my family. My boys could eat this dish every week and never tire of it. Whenever I ask what appetizers they think I should make for a special dinner, inevitably the coral response is shu mai. You might wonder what makes it so good. It’s all in the right blend of savory ingredients: pork, ginger, cilantro, and garlic. And there’s also the pasta that it’s all wrapped up in. Shu Mai is versatile but generally you’ll see it made of pork, chicken, or shrimp, or a mixture of any of these. Guests love it and ask for the recipe. You just can’t go wrong with it.
Part of the fun of making shumai is that it smells so good when it’s steamed, and it can be enjoyable making the dumplings, especially if you have small children who want to get in on the action. Before I was married my own family went through a phase of eating Chinese food. We ate a lot of spring rolls, Chinese rice, and stir-frys. About the same time I was working for Sharon Singstock, a caterer in Malibu, and one of her specialties was a Chinese theme spread consisting of a stir-fry, Chinese chicken salad, spring rolls, and shu mai. So I have done my fair share of rolling and stuffing. Now that I think about it, working with the caterer came first and her food spilled over in my family’s way of cooking.
One of my favorite books is The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking, by Barbara Tropp; it’s still on my bookshelf today. Another book I enjoyed learning about Chinese food from is Ken Hom’s Chinese Cookery. Both of their shu mai recipes are very good; mine is a little more kicked up with with the flavorings. If you’ve never tried your hand at Chinese cuisine maybe you should give it a try. The results taste sooo good!
Disclaimer: Please note that the books listed above are Amazon links are affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you purchase through them. I use the books mentioned and I recommend them because they are useful.
- 1 lb ground pork
- 2 tablespoons ginger, minced
- 3 green onions, finely chopped
- 1-1/2 tablespoons cilantro, minced
- 1-1/2 teaspoons garlic, minced
- 1-1/2 tablespoons lite soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons rice wine or sherry
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1 package won ton or gyoza wrappers (40 wrappers needed)
- 1 head green leaf lettuce, or Napa cabbage
- 1/3 cup lite soy sauce, divided
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar, divided
- Put the first nine ingredients into a bowl and mix together well.
- Place about 1 tablespoon of filling into a wrapper, bring up the sides of the wrapper up. Twist the sides of the wrapper clockwise. This will form clockwise pleats around the filling. Place all 5 fingers around the middle of the pouch and lightly push down so the bottom of the dumpling forms a flat base. As you push down some of the filling will ooze up through the center. This is expected and desired for the finished dumpling (1st picture of four). Keep the Shu Mai covered with a lightly damped tea towel or paper towel until your are ready to steam them.
- Pour water into a 12-inch skillet until it reaches the level of about 3/4 inch. Place a steamer basket into the skillet and line with lettuce or cabbage leaves.
- Place the shu mai on top of the leaves spaced ½-inch away from one another. Do not allow them to touch or they will stick together (2nd, 3rd and 4th pictures of 4).
- Cover the pan and steam about 8 to 10 minutes until they are cooked through and then serve immediately with the sauce.
- Check the water level and add more if necessary, and repeat the steaming process until they are all cooked.
- Get out two small dipping bowls, about ¾ cup in size.
- Put 3 tablespoons of soy sauce and 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar in each bowl. Stir to mix.
1. To steam the shu mai you can use stacked bamboo steamer baskets if you have them. Placed them in a wok with an inch of inch water; otherwise, you can set up a stainless steel steamer basket in a 12-inch skillet with 1-inch of water in the bottom of the pan.
2. Instead of using lettuce leaves or cabbage leaves you can lightly oil a plate, place the dumplings on top of it and put it on top of the steamer basket in the skillet (non-traditional way).