Happy National Dumpling Day! Although this is an artificial holiday created as a marketing campaign by a food company, I can't help but celebrate one of my favorite types of foods. From pierogi to empanadas to gyoza to madombi, most cuisines have some form of a dumpling. They can be sweet or savory and can be steamed, boiled, baked, or fried. While most have some type of filling - meat, fish, vegetable, or fruit - some do not (think chicken & dumplings).
Dim sum - a celebration of dumplings
For me, there is no meal where dumplings are more celebrated than dim sum. Other dishes are served but dumplings are the star. Going for dim sum with Popo (my maternal grandmother) was special. As we walked to our table to be seated, Popo would start ordering from the different carts as she walked by. Within 30 seconds of sitting, our table was filled with steaming baskets of dumplings. It was magical!
Today I share with you one of my favorite and possibly one of the easiest dim sum dumplings to make, siu mai. Unlike other dumplings that require some practice to correctly fold and pleat, siu mai are open-topped, simple to form, and fairly forgiving. Siu mai was and is one of my favorites and a must-have at dim sum.
A word about wrappers
If you aren't making your own wrappers (which I never do) it is important that you find the thinnest wrappers available. Gyoza and mundoo wrappers are too thick.
Traditionally siu mai wrappers are round but if you can't find round wrappers, buy the ones made for won ton. These are square but made of the same dough and in the same thickness as the round wrappers. Some people will cut off the corners of square wrappers or use a round cutter to get the correct shape. Others will fold down the corners when shaping the siu mai. Truth be told, I don't do either and leave the points sticking up. It may not have the traditional siu mai shape but they taste just as good.
Steaming siu mai
Siu mai are traditionally steamed in a bamboo basket over a wok but these items are not required. At the moment I don't have a wok so I place my bamboo basket over a stock pot that allows it to sit above the water. If I didn't have a bamboo basket then I would use the steamer basket that came with my multipurpose pot. In fact, many commercial kitchens use metal steamer baskets rather than bamboo.
Regardless of the type of steamer you still need to line the basket. You can purchase pre-perforated sheets (my bamboo basket came with a set of these sheets). But you can easily make your own using waxed paper or parchment paper. RecipeTin Eats has a great tutorial for making your own perforated sheets. Just be sure to lightly spray the sheet with cooking spray before placing the siu mai.
At dim sum, siu mai are just one of several dishes we enjoy. At home, we sometimes only eat siu mai or buy some siu ji yuk (crispy skin roast pork) to eat on the side. In Hawaii, the preferred dipping sauce is a mixture of soy sauce and Chinese hot mustard (similar to Colman's English Mustard). Use your favorite Asian dipping sauce suited to your preferences.