Steamed Pork and Shrimp Dumplings (Shao Mai)
Two of the restaurants specialties are xia jiao, crisp-tender shrimp dumplings in elegant translucent wrappers, and shao mai, an international favorite. These "open-face" dumplings are the archetypal dim sum. The tender dumplings of moist pork and succulent shellfish, lightly seasoned with green onions and oyster sauce, are encased in a soft, parchment-thin wrapper that leaves the filling exposed, so the eyes can appreciate even before the first bite. Pork and shrimp are two ingredients the southern Chinese hold in particularly high regard, so much so that they use them together in many dishes. Tender, finely sliced marinated pork and whole shelled shrimp with crisp and colorful fresh vegetables feature in stir-fries and noodles, sweet-and-sour dishes and steamboats. Satiny-smooth minced pork helps to bind and enrich fillings for buns, pastry rolls and dumplings, as in this recipe.
- 4 large dried black mushrooms, soaked in hot
water to cover for 25 minutes and drained
- 1/2 lb. coarsely ground fat pork, such as
- 6 oz. shrimp meat or crabmeat, finely chopped
- 2 green onions, white and light green portions,
- 1 tsp. superfine sugar
- 4 tsp. oyster sauce
- 1 Tbs. cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
- 1 Tbs. vegetable or peanut oil, or 1 1/2 tsp.
each vegetable oil and sesame oil
- 24 round wheat-flour dumpling wrappers
- 2 to 3 tsp. vegetable oil
- Light soy sauce, mild mustard or chili sauce
To shape each dumpling, make a circle with the thumb and first finger of one hand and position a dumpling wrapper centrally over the circle. Place about 2 tsp. of the filling in the center of the wrapper, and gently push the dumpling through the circle so that the wrapper becomes pleated around the sides of the dumpling filling. You should have a cup-shaped dumpling with the top of the filling exposed.
Brush the rack of a steamer basket with the vegetable oil and place the dumplings in the basket, leaving some space between them. Bring water to a simmer in a steamer base. Set the basket in the steamer, cover tightly and steam the dumplings until the filling is firm, 7 to 8 minutes.
Serve the dumplings in the steamer basket or transfer to a plate. Accompany with soy sauce, mustard or chili sauce in small dishes for dipping.