OK, I’ve done a second Chinese recipe, and I have to tell you, this is fun. Maybe it’s just because it’s a novelty for me, but I’m really enjoying using techniques like stir-frying and shaping dumplings. It’s just a good time in the kitchen for me.
Last night we made siu mai (or shu mai), a steamed dumpling that’s become quite popular in the US. You can get it at most Japanese restaurants (it’s not as common in American Chinese restaurants, though its origins are Chinese) or frozen at Trader Joe’s. This is another recipe from the Eileen Yin-Fei Lo book.
Well, I say last night, but it was a two-day process. It’s not difficult, but the meat needs to marinate overnight. For the meat mixture, you are mixing diced shrimp (peeled and deveined, please!), ground pork and diced shiitake mushroom caps. The marinade is a mixture of peanut butter, dark mushroom soy sauce (Best! Condiment! Ever!), sesame oil, Chinese cooking wine, rice wine vinegar, sugar, pepper, salt, and cornstarch. It’s supposed to have an even consistency, but mine was pretty lumpy so I took it for a quick spin in the Cuisinart. I put it in a covered bowl and let it sit overnight in the fridge.
The next day is the fun part: shaping the dumplings. Lo gives instructions for the dough, but she also advocates buying fresh dumpling wrappers if available, so I picked some up at the Chinese supermarket. I suspect that the wrappers I bought may be a bit bigger than what she was going for, though, since the recipe says it makes 36 dumplings and I got 16. My siu mai looked exactly like the pictures in the book, only bigger. Eh, what are you gonna do?
So, shaping the dumplings. The dumpling wrapper is a thin, circular piece of dough. Take that into your left hand, and with the right scoop out a good bit of meat filling– three or four tablespoons, I’d say. Smooth it onto the wrapper, and then use your fingers to fold and shape it. You’re creating a little basket shape that’s open on top, and you want to flatten the filling on top so it all cooks evenly. I used a cookie sheet to hold them while I was making them, and tapped the bottom on the cookie sheet so it was flat and stood up on its own.
Next, steaming time! The recipe calls for 7 minutes in the steamer, but since they were big we did 10 minutes. We steamed four at a time and they came out perfectly done and fragrant. We put some dark mushroom soy sauce on them and oh my god, were they delicious. The mushroom flavor was dominant, but shrimp and sesame were prominent too. When they start to cool down, the dough starts to toughen a bit, so these are best eaten piping hot.
The great thing about these is that they freeze really well. Once we’d eaten our fill, we let them cool and then froze them for about two hours on a cookie sheet, just enough to let them solidify. Then we wrapped them up, put them in a ziploc bag and put them in the freezer for a rainy day! Lo says they’ll last for about two months, and to heat them up you just need to steam them for 3-5 minutes.