Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Siu Mai Dumplings With Pork, Mushrooms & Shrimp

One of my favourite Sunday treats and a delicious way to celebrate any weekend, is going out for hot and delicious Dim Sum. I love the wonderful variety of small bites, whether it's steamed Shrimp and Scallop Dumplings, Sticky Rice Wrapped in Lotus Leaf or Siu Mai, succulent little parcels of ground pork and shrimp steamed to perfection. A traditional Chinese dumpling, Cantonese Siu Mai, from the south-eastern province of Guangdong, is the most well-known and popular variety enjoyed in North America. 

The standard filling consists primarily of ground pork, small whole or chopped shrimp, Chinese black mushroom, green onion and ginger with seasonings of Chinese rice wine, soy sauce and sesame oil, but bamboo shoots and water chestnuts can also be added. Wrapped in a very thin round sheet of unleavened dough with a pleat border, Siu Mai is usually garnished with an orange dot, made of crab roe or diced carrot, but I prefer the one prepared at Pearl Harbourfront in Toronto, with a small poached shrimp crowned with pea. 

Siu Mai Dumplings With Pork, Mushrooms & Shrimp

Makes about 20 dumplings

3 dried Chinese black or Shiitake mushrooms
6 oz large fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 green onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely diced water chestnuts
1 tsp minced ginger
3/4 cup ground pork
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp granulated sugar
20 frozen peas, defrosted
20 small fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
20 gyoza wrappers, or won ton wrappers cut into circles

Soak the mushrooms in a bowl of hot water for 20 to 30 minutes, until soft,  then drain and squeeze dry. Using a sharp knife, trim off and discard the stems, and mince the caps. In a food processor, chop the shrimp, green onion and water chestnuts into small pieces and place in a large bowl along with the mushrooms, ginger and pork, stirring well to combine. Then add the oyster sauce, rice wine, sesame oil and sugar, and mix thoroughly.

To make the Siu Mai, hold a wrapper in one hand and moisten the edges with water. Put 1 tablespoon of filling in the centre of the wrapper, taking care not to get too close to the edges. Gather up the edges of the wrapper and gently pleat the ends so that it forms a basket shape, with the top of the filling exposed. Gently press down on the filling, and set the dumpling upright on a plate. Crown with a small shrimp and finish with a small green pea in the centre. Repeat and continue filling and garnishing the remaining wrappers, keeping the finished dumplings covered with a dry kitchen towel to prevent them from drying out.

To cook the Siu Mai, line a steamer basket with a round of parchment paper or oil a small plate, to prevent sticking. Space the dumplings about 1/4" apart in the basket, so they don't stick together as they expand. Cover and steam the dumplings over boiling water for about 5 to 10 minutes, or until the dumplings have puffed slightly and their skins have become translucent. Serve immediately with hot chili sauce or Chinese hot mustard.

COOK'S NOTE: Dumplings can be made several hours in advance of cooking, but should be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated until needed. For longer storage, they can also be frozen on a baking sheet until hard, about 1 hour, then transferred to a plastic container. They can be frozen for up to 1 month, but should be partially thawed before steaming.

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