Every so often we’ll
land on an exemplary version of shu mai (steamed Chinese dumplings)—one that
boasts a tender, thin skin and a moist, flavorful filling. Our goal was to
replicate this version at home.
restaurant dumplings rely on coarse-ground pork and shrimp. We started with the
pork. To ensure proper flavor and texture, we chose to chop the pork (boneless
country-style ribs) in a food processor rather than relying on supermarket
ground pork. Supermarket ground pork is often inconsistent—some packages can be
lean, while others are riddled with fat and the grind itself is never
consistent; one package could be almost pastelike while another might contain
visible chunks of meat and fat. To prevent the meat from drying out during
steaming, we mixed in a little powdered gelatin dissolved in soy sauce. As for
the shrimp, we added that to the food processor, too. Dried shiitake mushrooms,
minced cilantro, fresh ginger, and water chestnuts were just a few of the
ingredients we relied on to round out our flavorful filling.
For our dumpling
wrappers, we chose widely available egg roll skins and cut them into rounds
with a biscuit cutter. Once we added the filling and gathered the edges of the
wrappers up around each one, we steamed our dumplings in a steamer basket.
Served with a hot chili sauce, our dumplings were full-flavored and virtually
Every so often we’ll land on an
exemplary version of shu mai (steamed Chinese dumplings)—one that boasts a
tender, thin skin and a moist, flavorful filling. Our goal was to replicate
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40 dumplings, serving 6 to 8 as an appetizer
Do not trim the
excess fat from the ribs; it contributes flavor and moistness. Use any size
shrimp except popcorn shrimp; there’s no need to halve shrimp smaller than 26
to 30 per pound before processing. The dumplings may be frozen for up to 3
months; cook them straight from the freezer for about an extra 5 minutes. Read
about our favorite steamer basket in related testing. To jury-rig one, follow
the instructions in related How to Cook. For more options on wrappers, see
related How to Cook. Serve shu mai with store-bought chili oil or make your own
(see related recipe).
country-style pork ribs, cut
into 1-inch pieces
·1/2poundshrimp, peeled, tails removed and halved lengthwise
·4dried shiitake mushroom caps(about 3/4 ounce), soaked in hot water 30
minutes, squeezed dry, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
fresh cilantro leaves
rice cooking wine(Shaoxing) or
·1(1 pound) package5
1/2 inch square egg roll wrappers(see note)
·1/4cupcarrot, finely grated (optional)
1. Combine soy sauce and gelatin
in small bowl. Set aside to allow gelatin to bloom, about 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, place half of pork
in food processor and pulse until coarsely ground into approximate
1/8-inch pieces, about ten 1-second pulses; transfer to large bowl. Add
shrimp and remaining pork to food processor and pulse until coarsely
chopped into approximate ¼-inch pieces, about five 1-second pulses.
Transfer to bowl with more finely ground pork. Stir in soy sauce mixture,
water chestnuts, mushrooms, cornstarch, cilantro, sesame oil, wine,
vinegar, sugar, ginger, salt, and pepper.
3. Divide egg roll wrappers into
3 stacks (6 to 7 per stack). Using 3-inch biscuit cutter, cut two 3-inch
rounds from each stack of egg roll wrappers (you should have 40 to 42
rounds). Cover rounds with moist paper towels to prevent drying.
4. Working with 6 rounds at a
time, brush edges of each round lightly with water. Place heaping
tablespoon of filling into center of each round. Following illustrations
below, form dumplings, crimping wrapper around sides of filling and
leaving top exposed. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with
damp kitchen towel, and repeat with remaining wrappers and filling. Top
center of each dumpling with pinch of grated carrot, if using.
5. Cut piece of parchment
slightly smaller than diameter of steamer basket and place in basket. Poke
about 20 small holes in parchment and lightly coat with nonstick cooking
spray. Place batches of dumplings on parchment liner, making sure they are
not touching. Set steamer over simmering water and cook, covered, until no
longer pink, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve immediately with chili oil.
Assembling Shu Mai
edges lightly with water. Place heaping tablespoon of filling in center.
sides of wrapper. Rotate 90 degrees and repeat. Continue until you have eight
Gather sides of
shu mai and squeeze gently at top to
Hold shu mai in
your hand and gently but firmly pack down filling with butter knife.
How We Brought Shu Mai Home
mai may taste great, but they contain inaccessible—and, in some cases,
unappealing—ingredients. For our recipe, we kept the best of those elements and
found readily available, more healthful substitutes for the others.
pack their shu mai with fat to create rich flavor and succulent texture.
flavor-boosting additive is key to the ultra-savory flavor in many Chinese
rich, earthy flavor but are not available in most American supermarkets.
the luxuriant effect of fat and helps the meat retain its juices.
Soy Sauce +
Rice Vinegar + Rice Wine
season our filling without synthetic enhancers.
reconstituted shiitake mushrooms replicate the hard-to-find Chinese variety.