It doesn’t get more Cantonese or more delicious than this: steamed siu mai dumplings, the “must-have” of any dim sum meal. My parents live in Rowland Heights, an outer-suburb of Los Angeles, also known as one of the best places to get Chinese food in all of California. This city has become an Asian American ethnic enclave over the last 15 years, with many choices of Cantonese, Mandarin, and Taiwanese restaurants to choose from. My parents often remark that they are “tired of eating” as a result of living there. If you are ever in LA and stop by Rowland Heights, you will most certainly realize what they mean.
If you are going out for dim sum (aka to “yum cha” or literally, to “drink tea”) you will see bamboo steamers filled with piping hot siu mai at pretty much every table in the restaurant, with of course, a teapot of hot tea to share.
Getting dim sum is one of the times where “tea etiquette” takes on an entirely different meaning. When ordering, it’s important to focus, know what you want, and be clear with the Chinese cart ladies. If all else fails, point to what you want. There is no time for dawdling or shyness here–for goodness sake, people are eager to get their siu mai fix on! Above all, just don’t piss off the Chinese cart ladies, otherwise they won’t come back.
If you are wanting to forgo the weekend Chinese restaurant madness but are still craving some delicious siu mai, here is the recipe for you. Of course it’s always fun going out to dim sum, but once in a while it’s really satisfying making your own set of steamy dumplings, especially since you can make them healthier and have lots of leftovers too! These siu mai are simple to make, classic, and delicious…perfect with a cup of pu-erh or oolong tea.
Siu Mai Dumplings (Steamed Pork & Shrimp Dumplings)
Makes about 30 dumplings.
6 oz fresh deveined shrimp
1 lb ground pork
1 cup dried shiitake mushrooms (I used sliced but you can also use whole)
3 green onions, thinly sliced, white portions removed
2 egg whites
1 1/2 tsp low sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp cooking sherry
1/2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp chicken bouillon
1/4 tsp white pepper
wonton or siu mai wrappers
mini cubed carrots, thinly sliced green onions, chili sauce, or salmon caviar eggs to garnish (optional)
large bamboo steamer
wok with slightly larger diameter than steamer OR a stockpot with exactly the same diameter as the steamer
cookie scoop with 1 3/4″ diameter (2 Tbsp)
1.) Soak the dried shiitake mushrooms in warm water for 20-30 minutes depending on size. When completely softened, drain off liquid, remove stems (if using whole mushrooms), give mushrooms a light squeeze to remove excess moisture, and cut into small pea sized pieces. Alternatively, place hydrated, drained, and squeezed mushrooms in a food processor and pulse until you get small pea sized pieces. Set aside into a large mixing bowl.
2.) Chop (or process) shrimp into small pea sized pieces. Add to mixing bowl.
3.) Add ground pork, green onions, egg whites, soy, sherry, sesame oil, cornstarch, sugar, bouillon, and pepper to the mixing bowl and gently mix until all ingredients are evenly incorporated.
4.) Prepare a large, clean workstation for assembling the dumplings. This station should include a small bowl for water and the bowl of mixed meat filling. Place a damp paper towel over the wrappers to prevent them from drying out. Prepare the bamboo steamer by lightly spraying it with non-stick spray or by placing a round piece of parchment in the base of the steamer. If using parchment, pierce or cut several small holes all over the parchment round so that the steam will circulate and cook the dumplings evenly.
5.) To fill wrappers, place an even scoop of the meat filling in the center of each wrapper, then use fingers to wet all 4 exposed edges of wrapper. Bring up edges of wrapper and stick them to the sides of center “meatball.” Tighten the dumpling wrapper around the filling with your fingers, forming a cylinder-like shape with a flat bottom.
6.) Place open-faced dumplings into prepared steamer, about 1″ apart from one another and away from the sides of the steamer. When the steamer is full of dumplings, fill the wok or stockpot 1/2 full with water and place on stove top on high heat. When water has reached a full boil, place the bamboo steamer (with top on) atop the wok/stockpot. Steam siu mai for 10-12 minutes or until completely cooked through.
7.) Garnish siu mai tops with carrots, green onion, chili sauce, or caviar.