Recipe: Shaomai for the Dummies
Maybe the name "Shaomai" doesn't mean much to you yet but if I tell you they are Chinese dumplings made of pork meat roughly stuffed in a dumpling skin, does it ring a bell? Last weekend was rainy and cold so I didn't want to go out...Instead, I decided to fill the freezer with homemade Chinese treats, including Shaomai.
These dumpling are really easy to make, especially if you don't know any wrapping technique, and cheap so you won't make a dent in your bank account attempting to prepare them.
500gr of fresh Ground Pork;
A pack or two of dumpling skins;
3-4 Chinese mushrooms;
1cm of ginger;
1 heaped tablespoon of soy sauce;
1 heaped tablespoon of xiaoxing wine;
1 heaped teaspoon of cornstarch diluted in lukewarm water;
1 heaped teaspoon (or two) of sesame sauce;
Salt and Pepper;
Optional: some like to put a carrot, water chestnut or lotus in them to add some crunchiness. It is also common to add a few shrimps to improve the texture but it is not mandatory.
As you can see, there are a few Chinese ingredients which can be found at your local Asian store or even at your regular supermarket (except for xiaoxing wine maybe). If you want to start preparing Chinese recipes, these ingredients are a must as they are the very base of the Chinese cuisine. They will be found in various combinaisons in many recipes: Ginger, Scallions, Light Soy Sauce, Xiaoxing Wine and Sesame Oil.
The first step will obviously be to rehydrate the mushrooms and cut them, cut the ginger and scallions, and to defrost the dumpling skins.
Once the first step is completed, you can mix all the ingredients together is a mixing bowl. Make sure to work the paste until it becomes almost homogeneous. You will see that the more you work and aerate the paste the more its consistency will change. I would suggest to add a shot of water as well, the meat will absorb the liquid and become smooth.
Now come the time to use the dumpling skins :) Take one on the palm of your hand and place in the middle a good teaspoon or small tablespoon of meat. Then make a circle with your index and thumb and make the skin and filling go through. You want the skin to really fit between your fingers, then squeeze a bit to give the shaomai its shape and there you are...
Easy right? Repeat the process until you don't have anymore filling...
Cooking Shaomai is really simple. Grab as many as you want to eat and place them in your steamer for about 15-20 minutes, and they're ready to be devoured...