Chinese New Year is this coming Tuesday, which means the Year of the Monkey begins in less than a week. Ring it in with a DIY dim sum party! These shumai, which are traditional fare on the dim sum table, are easy to make with dumpling wrappers and a couple of steamer baskets. Make the filling, then gather your friends and set up stations so everyone can try their hand at assembling and steaming the dumplings.
Shrimp and Pork Shumai
For the soy-ginger sauce:
1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml.) soy sauce
1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml.) mirin
1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml.) rice vinegar
2 green onions, including 2 inches (5 cm.) of tender green tops, finely chopped
4 tsp. peeled and minced fresh ginger
For the filling:
1/2 lb. (250 g.) boneless pork loin, ground
1/4 cup (1 1/2 oz./45 g.) minced raw shrimp
1 1/2 oz. (45 g.) pork fatback, minced
2 oz. (60 g.) fresh shiitake or oyster mushrooms, brushed clean and tough stems removed, minced
2 Tbs. minced bamboo shoot
1 Tbs. peeled and finely grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 Tbs. cornstarch
1 Tbs. dry sherry
2 tsp. Asian sesame oil
1 tsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. fine sea salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper, to taste
30 round dumpling wrappers (see note above)
Napa cabbage leaves for lining steamer
To make the soy-ginger sauce, in a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, mirin, vinegar, green onions and ginger. Set aside until ready to serve.
To make the filling, in a bowl, combine the pork, shrimp, fatback, mushrooms, bamboo shoot and ginger and stir briefly to combine. Add the cornstarch, sherry, sesame oil, sugar, salt and pepper and stir until the mixture has a smooth, even consistency.
Working with 1 dumpling wrapper at a time and keeping the others covered with a damp kitchen towel, assemble the shumai: Place a heaping 1 Tbs. of filling in the center of the wrapper. Cup it in your hand and, with the index finger and thumb of your other hand, pleat the top edge. Squeeze the dumpling gently in the center to indent slightly and tap the bottom to flatten. Using the back of a teaspoon dipped in water, pack the filling gently and smooth the top. Repeat with the remaining filling and wrappers to make 24 dumplings. (The extra dumpling wrappers allow you to lose a few while practicing.)
In a wok or large, wide saucepan, pour in water to a depth of 2 inches and bring to a boil over high heat. Line a bamboo steamer basket or a plate with a single layer of cabbage leaves and top with half of the dumplings, spacing them about 1/2 inch apart. Place the basket in the wok or on top of the pan, or place the plate on a steamer rack in the wok or pan. Make sure the steaming water does not touch the basket or plate. Cover tightly and steam until the wrappers are translucent and the visible filling is opaque, about 6 minutes. Transfer the dumplings to a large, wide, shallow platter and keep warm in a 200°F oven while you steam the remaining dumplings.
Serve the dumplings immediately. Pass the soy-ginger sauce at the table or serve it in individual dipping bowls. Serves 4 to 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma The Pasta Book, by Julia della Croce (Weldon Owen, 2010).