SHAO MAI (about 24 steamed pork and shrimp dumplings)
“The acknowledged master chefs of dim sum usually come from Guangzhou, in Guangdong province, training in restaurants like Pan Xi Jiujia, with its dining rooms and pavilions set beside Li Wan Lake. At this famous restaurant, you can order direct from the chefs, then watch them prepare the mounds of fresh dumplings that will be lined up in gigantic bamboo baskets and stacked to steam over huge woks of simmering water with roaring gas fires below.”
4 large dried black mushrooms, soaked in hot water to cover for 25 minutes and drained
½ pound coarsely ground fat pork, such as pork butt
6 ounces shrimp meat or crab meat, finely chopped
2 green onions, white and light green portions, finely chopped
1 teaspoon superfine sugar
4 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable or peanut oil, or 1-1/2 teaspoons each vegetable oil and sesame oil
24 round wheat flour dumpling wrappers
2 to 3 teaspoons vegetable oil
1. Remove and discard the stems from the mushrooms if necessary and very finely chop the caps. Place in a bowl, add the pork, shrimp and green onions and mix well. Mix in the sugar and oyster sauce, then stir in the cornstarch, white pepper and oil. Let the filling stand for 20 minutes.
2. To shape each dumpling, make a circle with the thumb and first finger of one hand and position a dumpling wrapper centrally over the circle. Place about 2 teaspoons of the filling in the center of the wrapper, and gently push the dumpling through the circle so that the wrapper becomes pleated around the sides of the dumpling filling. You should have a cup shaped dumpling with the top of the filling exposed.
3. Brush the back of a steamer basket with the vegetable oil and place the dumplings in the basket, leaving some space between them. Bring water to a simmer in a steamer base. Set the basket in the steamer, cover tightly and steam the dumplings until the filling is firm, 7 to 8 minutes.
4. Serve the dumplings in the steamer basket or transfer to a plate. Accompany with soy sauce, mustard to chili sauce in small dishes for dipping.
adapted from Jacki Passmore, Savoring China, Williams Sonoma