I love owning a bamboo steamer, if for no other reason that to display around the kitchen. It’s not only a conversation starter whenever new guests visit but also a handy tool for food photography. (Gotta play up the Asian theme sometimes.) Plus, a set of basket and lid usually costs less than $10 in Chinatown.
Of course, there are times when bamboo steamers are useful for actual cooking. Aside from har gow, shumai is possibly the most requested dim sum standard in my family, with the reliable crinkly yellow wonton wrappers snugly encasing the pork-dominant filling. I haven’t tackled har gow at home yet, possibly because even 95% of all restaurants I visit fail at the texture of the translucent wrapper. But siu mai I can do.
Yes, this is the same dim sum treat that’s also spelled shu mai, siew mai, and siu mai due to the lack of standard Cantonese Romanization. (In Mandarin it’s just shao mai). Wrapping is not so complex. Folding shumai is even easier than folding wontons and potstickers, which requires sealing. With siu mai you just need to form the wrapper into a cup and press the sides against the filling.
Try it the next time you’re craving dim sum but the nearest good restaurant is too far of a drive. Or flight.
Related Chinese dim sum and “little eats” recipes:
Pork and Shrimp Shumai (Shao Mai)
Serves 4 to 6
1/2 package wonton wrappers, round*
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound shrimp, deveined and finely chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 egg, beaten, for egg wash
Garnish: 1 small quarter of a carrot, minced
Special equipment: 1 or 2 large bamboo steamers with lid, pastry brush
*If all you have on hand is square wonton wrappers, stack about 10 together at a time, place a round cookie cutter or drinking glass on top as a guide, and slice into circles with a small knife.
1. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the pork, shrimp, soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil, salt, and pepper.
2. Spoon a heaping teaspoon of the filling into the center of a wonton wrapper. Lightly brush the sides of the wrapper with egg wash. Squeeze the sides up until the wrapper forms a cup, tucking in the sides and leaving the filling exposed on top. Repeat with the rest of the wrappers. Garnish with orange roe or chopped carrots.
3. Line 1 or 2 large bamboo steamer with parchment paper. Fit the steamer basket(s) in the wok and pour enough water into the wok until the water line is 1 inch below the bottom of the steamer. Steam the siu mai for 12 to 15 minutes, until filling is firm to the touch. Serve with soy sauce, chili sauce, or chili oil.