Siu Mai is the first thing you grab off the trolleys when you descend upon your favourite Yum Cha. And now you can get your Shumai fix on demand! These Chinese steamed dumplings are filled with a classic pork and prawn filling.
If you’ve ever wondered how to make Chinese Dim Sum 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 supposed 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 OR buy one sushi topped with 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);
- 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.
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!
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 lcan 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 trying to discreetly guzzle 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. Having said that though, it is obviously just as enjoyable as the star attraction for a meal!!
To serve this as a meal, try with with:
- Fried Rice or Steamed Rice
- Steamed Chinese Greens with Oyster Sauce, a Vegetable Stir Fry or Ginger Smashed Cucumbers
Or go all out and make your own Yum Cha banquet! Here are some of the dishes in my Yum Cha recipe collection:
– Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Siu Mai (Shumai – Chinese Steamed Dumplings)
Recipe video above. Siu Mai is the first thing you grab off the trolleys when you descend upon your favourite Yum Cha. And now you can get your Shumai fix on demand! These Chinese steamed dumplings are filled with a classic pork and prawn filling. Serves 2 – 3 as a main meal, or more as part of a larger spread.
- 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/160°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).
1. Dried shiitake mushrooms – sold in Asian stores and Asian aisle of some grocery stores. Soak for 20 min in large bowl with boiling water. Squeeze out excess water, then finely chop.
2. Pork – fatty is better because fat = flavour and keeps the filling juicy. I like to get it from a butcher and ask them specifically, rather than packets at grocery stores (which tend to be lean). If you want to impress me, get a piece of skinless pork belly and pass it through a mincer or cut into 2.5cm/1″ cubes and pulse in food processor to make your own.
If using your own ground pork belly rather than mince, add 1 small egg white and 1 tsp cornflour into the Filling mixture with the pork.
3. Prawns (shrimp) – if peeling raw whole ones, you’ll need 300g/10oz. Otherwise, use raw peeled one (thaw frozen). Smaller is better if you can, otherwise just chop away (as I do, because I’d rather do that than peel loads of small prawns).
4. Soy sauce – use Light or normal soy sauce. Don’t use dark soy sauce (will stain filling dark colour and flavour is too strong). If you have Dark Soy, bottle will be labelled as such.
5. Shaoxing wine (Chinese cooking wine) – key ingredient in Chinese cooking for that extra depth of flavour and complexity in sauces and fillings. If you can’t consume alcohol, sub chicken stock/broth.
6. White part of green onions – also pale green part is ok. Sui Mai doesn’t have visible green bits in it.
7. Wonton wrappers – 8cm/3.5″ squares or rounds. Sold in Asian section (fridge) of large grocery stores (Coles, Woolies, Harris Farms) and Asian stores.
Proper Chinese Yum Cha / Dim Sum restaurants make it with round wrappers, strangely not even sold in Asian stores here in Sydney. It’s the same wrappers as the square wonton ones, just cut round.
Don’t bother cutting rounds, totally waste of time! Just use the square ones, then use a bit of water to fold the edges down. End result looks EXACTLY the same!
8. Fly fish roe – tiny little bright orange fish eggs used to garnish Siu Mai. Sold at Asian stores – or buy a couple of fish roe sashimi from the sushi shop and use the roe! SUB finely chopped carrot. It’s just visual – too little for flavour!
9. Steamer paper liner with holes in it (“perforated paper liner”) – required so they don’t stick but steam gets through. Can buy from Asian stores, but I always make my own. Fold sheet of baking/parchment paper in half, quarters, then keep going to form pointy thin triangle. Line pointy end in middle of steamer, then cut the end off (this shapes the paper round). On the folded edge of the triangle, snip out tiny triangles, and snip middle off. Unfold – voila! Steamer liner!
10. Wok size – just needs to be big enough so steamer can sit in it. Mine is JUST big enough – the steamer literally sits 1 cm / 2/5″ from top of rim!
11. Microwave steamer (with water) will work too but you lose about 25% juiciness (because you’re not just cooking with steam, the microwave is also cooking it). 5 minutes on high or until internal temperature of dumplings is 75°C/160°F. Note: If your dumplings are bigger because wonton wrappers are bigger, they will take longer.
12. STORING – 100% perfect for freezing raw! Best to cook from frozen: 11 minutes steaming on stove, 7 minutes microwave steamer on high.
Cooked wontons can be kept in the fridge for a few days, reheat in steamer or microwave covered for 1 minute on high.
13. Nutrition per dumpling.
Life of Dozer
Sydney is finally experiencing some serious rain – good news for our bushfire crisis! Keep the rain coming please!