Siu Mai is an infamous dim sum dish that originates from Hong Kong and is a staple when it comes to dim sum. Siu Mai usually consists of a ground meat filling, however, for this recipe I wanted to make the Shanghai version that uses sticky rice instead as a filling. The beautiful thing about these dumplings are a delicate tight wrapper with a bouncy umami infused sticky rice filling. With that said let's cook!
Cook Time 1 hour / Prep Time 1 hour
To make 24 dumplings
Siu Mai Wrappers:
255g Plain Flour
150ml hot water
pinch of saffron (optional)
cornflour for dusting
300g sticky rice
300g pork belly
100g chinese sausage (optional)
10 dried shittake mushrooms
1 celery stick
2 tbsp 5 spice
2 tbsp cooking wine
2 tbsp dark soy
4 tbsp light soy
2 tbsp oyster sauce
3 tbsp sesame oil
chilli oil recipe here
1/4 bunch chives
Let's begin this recipe by making the sticky rice, before cooking add 300g of sticky rice to a bowl and fill with cold water then allow the sticky rice to soak for 2 hours. After 2 hours drain the rice through a fine sieve then when drained add the rice to a large plate or bowl that will fit inside a steamer. Next place the steamer onto a high heat and steam the rice for 1-1 1/2 hours until cooked. The length of time to tell when the rice is cooked may vary depending on soaking time and brand.
2. Whilst waiting for the sticky rice to cook we can also prepare the remaining ingredients to make the filling much more interesting. Start by placing 10 dried shitake mushrooms into a small bowl then cover with hot water. Allow the shiitakes to soak in the hot water until soft. Next cut 300g of belly pork into a rough mince by slicing into strips then into a small dice then cut 100g of optional chinese sausage into a small dice and place separately to one side. For the vegetables mince 15g of ginger, finely dice 1 carrot, 1 celery stick then when the shitake mushrooms are soft also finely dice. As for the stock made from soaking the shiitakes keep this to one side as we will use this later.
3. To bring the filling together, start by placing a large pan or wok onto a high heat. When hot add a small drizzle of cooking oil then add all of the minced pork belly and fry until crispy golden brown. Next to the pan add all of the diced chinese sausage, minced ginger, carrot, shiitakes and celery then continue to stir fry for a further 2 minutes. When the vegetables become fragrant add 2 tbsp of chinese 5 spice then deglaze the pan with 4 tbsp light soy, 2 tbsp dark soy, 2 tbsp oyster sauce and 2 tbsp of cooking wine. Mix well then add all of the mushroom stock saved from earlier and reduce by half.
4. When reduced remove the base of the filling from the heat then season with black pepper and additional soy if needed, when satisfied keep to one side for now. Next back to the sticky rice, you can tell the rice is cooked as it becomes fairly translucent. When ready remove from the steamer add the rice to the base and mix well to break up the rice. Add some sesame oil to help break up the rice then when evenly incorporated place into a bowl and allow to cool. We are looking for the filling to be neither too dry or too wet at this point as either or will make it difficult to fold the dumplings. This consistency can be achieved by added either more stock if too dry or reducing if too wet. Now the filling is ready and we can move onto making up the wrappers.
Siu Mai Wrappers:
5. Now that we have our filling all that's left is to make up the wrappers, these wrappers are essentially wonton wrappers and in Shanghai have a distinct yellow colour. Traditionally this yellow colour is made from using food colouring, however, I find using saffron gives that same colour and a touch of elegance also. Of cause the colour of the dumplings can be skipped but I will add this into the recipe regardless. Start by adding 150ml of hot water to a bowl then add a pinch of saffron. Mix well then in a separate large mixing bowl add 255g of plain flour and 2g of salt. Next, pass the saffron water through a fine sieve then slowly add to the flour whilst mixing constantly. When all of the saffron water is added begin to kneed the dough by hand until a smooth ball of dough is formed. Take care when kneading as the dough will be quite hot. When the dough is ready, cover with clingfilm and allow to rest for 45 minutes at room temperature.
6. After 45 minutes of resting the gluten should be much more active making the dough much more elastic and easier to make the wrappers. Start by pushing your thumb through the centre of the dough to form a hole. Then begin to rotate the dough and expand the hole to form a large ring piece of dough. When the diameter of the dough is approximately 1 1/2 inches, cut the dough into half to make 2 long logs of dough. Roll out each log so that the length and thickness are equal in size.
7. Next we want to cut the dough to make 24 equal sized pieces. Start by cutting both logs of dough into half, then each half into half again then finally each of these pieces into 3. When all of the pieces are cut dust with cornflour then mix and cover the dough pieces with clingfilm to prevent them from drying. We are now ready to make up the dumplings.
8. To make the wrappers start by lightly dusting a work top with cornflour. Next take one of the small pieces of dough and flatten with your palm to make a small flat disk. Now using a small rolling pin roll whilst rotating the dough to make a thin disk that is approximately the size of your palm. As for the thickness try to make the wrapper as thin as possible and as a guide the wrapper should become almost transparent when ready. Before adding the filling use your thumb to pinch around the edges to make an almost crinkled border around the wrapper (this will help the wrapper cling onto the filling).
9. To complete the dumplings hold the wrapper with your off hand then add a generous amount of the filling into the centre of the wrapper. Now using your thumb and index finger grip the top of wrapper then using a small spoon push the filling into the wrapper to make a almost small coin purse. When tight squeeze the top of the filling to tighten up the dumpling leaving an exposed gap at the top of the filling. When ready place the dumpling onto a small square of parchment paper then onto a tray and repeat this process for all of the dumplings. To be honest its fairly tricky to write how to fold these dumplings, therefore, definitely watch a brief video tutorial if you can. Saying that these dumplings are pretty simple to fold and after 24 attempts im sure you will get the hang of it. When all of the dumplings are made take a deep breath and they are now ready to steam.
10. To cook the dumplings, place a steamer onto a high heat then when steaming evenly spread the dumplings out into the steamer. Steam the dumplings for 8-10 minutes depending on size. As the filling is already cooked we only have to focus on the wrapper to cook and tighten around the filling. When cooked carefully remove the dumplings from the steamer and we are now ready to serve.
11. To serve, finely slice some chives and spoon a small heap on top of each dumpling. Finish with a drizzle of chilli oil or a dipping sauce of your choice on the side and nourish! You can find the link on how to make a simple chilli oil in the ingredients list...Hope you like the recipe and I'm sure you will love these Shao Mai dumplings!
As for the filling this recipe follows the traditional Shanghai method, however you can simply make these dumplings vegan by removing the pork, chinese sausage and oyster sauce. The other type of Siu Mai is the cantonese version that are more commonly found in the west. These consist of a filling that is usually made from ground pork or seafood. Perhaps later on I will revisit these dumplings and make the cantonese version...Have fun making Siu Mai and as always peace!