Siu Mai (shumai) is the first thing you grab off the trolleys at Yum Cha. And now you can get your fix on demand with this easy to follow recipe! These Chinese steamed dumplings have a classic juicy pork and prawn filling, enclosed with wonton wrappers.
If you’ve ever wondered how to make Chinese dumplings, today is the day you’ll discover that it’s totally doable by any home cook! You don’t even need a bamboo steamer!
Siu Mai (Shumai – Chinese Steamed Dumplings)
It’s so unsatisfying going to Yum Cha* with just two people. I mean, Yum Cha is all about ordering as many different types of dumplings you can, sprinkled with a few crunchy deep fried things (hello Spring Rolls!), some sort of fluffy steamed bun (Pork Buns all the way for me), and I suppose we should order something green (Chinese Broccoli with Oyster Sauce is our standard) and fried rice makes a mandatory appearance, always.
So when you go with only 2 people, you have to be very selective and careful about how you spend your dumpling credits.
But Siu Mai always makes the cut!
* Called Dim Sum over in the US 🇺🇸
Don’t be daunted by the folding technique. Watch the video and look at the step photos. You’ll get the hang of it in no time!
What you need to make Siu Mai
Here’s what you need to make Siu Mai. If you’re in Australia 🇦🇺, you can get all of these ingredients at large Woolies, Coles and Harris Farms.
Just a few notes on some of the ingredients:
Fish roe is for decorative purposes only. Found at some Asian stores, good seafood shops OR buy one sushi topped with flying fish roe and use that – you only need a small amount, one sushi is enough! That’s what I did. 😇 Substitute: finely diced steamed carrot!
Wonton wrappers aka Wonton Egg Pastry – about 8.5cm / 3.5″ squares OR rounds if you can find them. Rounds are harder to find so I just use squares. No need to cut out rounds. Look for egg (yellow) pastry, there are also white wontons (used for Wonton Soup type wontons). Substitute Gyoza wrappers (ie white round pastry);
Dried shiitake mushrooms have an earthier, more intense flavour than fresh. They need to be rehydrated in boiling water for 20 minutes or so, then wring them out and finely chop. Sold in Asian aisle of large grocery stores or Asian stores. Sub fresh finely chopped and sautéed in a bit of oil, or leave out.
How to make Siu Mai
Don’t be daunted by the thought of stuffing / wrapping the Siu Mai. Firstly, if it’s a bit wonky and lopsided, so what? It will still TASTE just as good.😇
Secondly, you will get the hang of it after a couple, it’s actually not that hard. The technique used is to use your forefinger and thumb to form a “O” then use that as a “hole” into which you stuff the filling.
Excess flappy bits
The purpose of Step 5, so eloquently labelled as “fold down excess flappy bits”, is because we’re using square pastry for a round dumpling. Just a dab of water, then fold the pastry down and it sticks perfectly.
So if you managed to track down round egg pastry, then Step 5 isn’t applicable to you.
How to Steam Chinese Dumplings
Here’s how to cook Siu Mai. I’ve used a bamboo steamer here which is the traditional way to cook them, as you see at Yum Cha / Dim Sum restaurants. The bamboo adds a subtle fragrance that is authentically Chinese.
But you can steam Siu Mai in any steamer – you can even use a microwave steamer!
This is a photo of the dumplings before and after. You can see the pastry becomes soft and slippery, and that it holds its shape nicely once cooked.
DIY Perforated Paper for Steamer
You’ll need perforated paper for your steamer. That’s a fancy name for “paper with holes in it”. It stops the dumplings from sticking whilst allowing the steam to rise through.
Don’t rush out to buy them, make your own. Simple, quick – and a great hack!
Sauce for Siu Mai
There’s no official dipping sauce for Siu Mai. You’ll find dumpling joints provide a selection of soy sauce, Chinese black vinegar or white vinegar and some kind of Chilli Paste, then you make your own.
I usually do:
3 parts soy sauce
1 part vinegar
As much chilli as I think I can brave.
I always go overboard with the chilli. I boast that I can handle it. Then two bites in, my mouth is on fire, I’m sweating, silently cursing (and trying my very hardest not to let my friends see how much I am suffering), and discreetly guzzling ice water.
It’s all part of the dumpling ritual.
What to serve with Siu Mai
Siu Mai is a Yum Cha / Dim Sum dish so it’s intended to be served as part of a larger banquet. If you’re inspired to try to make your own Yum Cha banquet, here are some of the dishes in my Yum Cha recipe collection:
Yum Cha / Dim Sum favourites
Having said that though, it is obviously just as enjoyable as the star attraction for a meal!!
To serve this as a meal, try it with:
For some greens, try Steamed Chinese Greens with Oyster Sauce, a Vegetable Stir Fry. If fresh vegetables are wanting, Ginger Smashed Cucumbers or Chinese Lettuce with Creamy Sesame Sauce are great alternatives.
Of course, you can just consume as I usually do. Straight up, neat! – Nagi x
PS And because my mother will be cranky if I don’t let you know this – there is a Japanese version of Shumai too, they’re smaller and topped with peas and here is the recipe on my mother’s website, RecipeTin Japan.
Watch how to make it
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Siu Mai (Shumai - Chinese Steamed Dumplings)
- 3 dried shiitake mushrooms , soaked in boiling water, finely chopped (Note 1)
- 350g/ 13oz pork mince (ground pork) , fatty (Note 2)
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 2.5 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp light soy sauce (Note 4)
- 1.5 tbsp Chinese cooking wine (aka Shaoxing wine, sub Mirin or dry sherry) (Note 5)
- 150g/5oz prawns/shrimp , peeled and deveined, chopped 0.5cm / 1/5" (Note 3)
- 2 tbsp white part of green onions , finely minced (Note 6)
- 20 - 25 wonton wrappers / egg wrappers 8cm/3.5" squares or rounds (Note 7)
- 50g/1.5oz flying fish roe (Note 8 for alternatives)
- Place pork, salt, soy sauce, rice wine, sugar with the pork meat/mince in a large mixing bowl. Mix vigorously with a spoon or use your hands until it becomes pasty (initially it will be crumbly) - about 30 seconds.
- Add mushrooms, prawns and green onions, mix until just dispersed (don't crush the prawn meat).
Making Siu Mai (process steps and video helpful!):
- Form an "O" with your forefinger and thumb.
- Place a wonton wrapper over the "O". Push in 1 heaped teaspoon of Filling and push down into the "O" hole.
- Use a butter knife to smear more Filling into until level with edge of wonton.
- Place on work surface and push down to flatten base and use fingers to shape into a round.
- Line a 30cm/12" bamboo steamer (or stove steamer) with baking paper with holes in it (Note 9)
- Fill a wok big enough to hold steamer with about 2 cups of water (Note 10). Bring to rapid simmer over medium high heat.
- Place Siu Mai in steamer (20 - 25 fits). Place lid on, place on wok over simmering water.
- Steam 8 minutes, or until internal temperature of dumplings is 75°C/165°F. (If yours are bigger due to larger wonton wrappers are bigger, they will take longer).
- Remove steamer from wok. Remove lid and place a tiny bit of roe in the middle of each dumpling.
- Serve immediate with dipping sauce!
Siu Mai Dipping Sauce:
- Provide soy sauce, Chinese black vinegar or normal white vinegar, Chinese chilli paste (or Sriracha or other chilli). Let people mix their own to their taste (I do: 3 parts soy, 1 part vinegar, as much chilli as I think I can handle).
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