I love me some dim sum times! I’ve made wontons and soup dumplings before, but this is my first crack at shumai.
Assembly wise, shumai is a little more involved than wontons, and a lot easier than soup dumplings. I’m not sure if that gives you any indication of range of difficulty, but if you have any type of half-way decent hand eye coordination you should be fine.
My biggest fear was either over or under cooking the shumai – leaving me with either a gummy shrimpy paste or raw limp shimpy grossness. Luckily, I encountered neither.
A couple FYIs:
Don’t assemble these until you’re ready to steam them. The liquid in the minced shrimp will seep through the wrapper and get all gross and inedible/uncookable. These aren’t a “prep all shumai a day ahead and cook when you’re ready” type of thing. At all.
These freeze well, but you have to steam them and cook thoroughly first, then freeze. Don’t freeze raw shumai.
I eat these with hot Chinese mustard and a combo of soy sauce + spicy vinegar.
And a tip from my good friend Debbie (@bringingbutterback): Go eat decent shumai somewhere so you know what the fuck you’re getting yourself into.
Time to make the shumais!! I think a verbal explanation of the assembly makes this seem more complicated than it is. So here… pictures of the entire process, all for you (my camera is so dirty, y’all).
adapted from no recipes
makes about 24 shumai in about 45 minutes
For whole shrimp
3/4 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 egg white
1 teaspoon cornstarch1/2 teaspoon salt
For minced shrimp
1 oz pork fat (a.k.a. lard, folks. don’t be scurred)
1 lb raw, small shelled shrimp
4 scallions white part only, minced
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 egg white
1 tablespoon ginger juice grated and juice squeezed out
1 tablespoon sake
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
24 wonton wrappers
napa cabbage or lettuce, for lining steamer
For whole shrimp
Use a sharp knife to slice shrimp in half from head to tail, down the center. If your shrimp are very large, you may need to cut them in half once again crosswise. Remove the dark vein if present, then add the shrimp to a large bowl.
Add egg white, 1 teaspoon of cornstarch, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the halved shrimp, then use your fingers to vigorously “whisk” the shrimp together with the egg until the shrimp are evenly coated with a white froth.
For minced shrimp
If you’re using a food processor, roughly chop the pork fat, and add it to the food processor. Process until finely minced. Add the small peeled shrimp, and pulse until there are no big chunks, but not to the point where it turns into a paste. If you are doing it by hand, finely mince the fat, small shrimp separately and add to a large bowl.
Add the scallions, cornstarch, egg white, ginger juice, sake, sugar, sesame oil, oyster sauce, soy sauce, salt, and white pepper. Pulse the food processor until combined, or use your hand to “whisk” the mixture together thoroughly.
Assembling + cooking shumai
Prepare a steamer and line the bottom with napa cabbage or lettuce (this prevents the dumplings from sticking to the steamer). Bring the water to a boil.
To wrap the shumai, form an “o” with your left hand (assuming you’re right handed). Cover the “o” with a wrapper, then put a generous teaspoon of filling in the middle.
Add a half shrimp on top, pressing the dumping into the “o”.
Add another teaspoon of filling, then use the thumb of your opposite hand to press the dumping all the way into the “o” shape in your hand, using your thumb to level off the top.
Top with one more half of shrimp. Make sure the colored side of the shrimp faces up so it turns red when cooked. Make sure the top and bottom of the dumpling are flat, then repeat until you have enough dumplings to fill the steamer. Unfortunately, these can’t be prepped ahead as the liquid in the minced shrimp will absorb through the wonton wrapper. Make these as you can eat them.
Turn off the heat, then place the dumplings in the hot steamer, leaving enough space between the dumplings so they are not touching each other. Cover the steamer with a damp kitchen towel, then cover with the lid. Flip the corners of the towel back over the lid to keep them from catching on fire. The towel keeps the condensation from dripping on the dumplings.
Turn the heat back on and steam the shumai over high-heat for 8 minutes.
Serve with vinegar and Chinese mustard.