I have great memories of spending a Saturday or Sunday morning at a bustling, noisy Chinese restaurant, sipping tea and eating Yum Cha for brunch. BBQ pork buns (char siu bao), BBQ rice noodle rolls, crispy calamari and one of my favourite dim sum – Siu Mai, prawn and pork dumplings (also called Shu Mai, meaning “cook and sell”).
It’s funny how things coincide sometimes. A few weeks ago, I was craving Siu Mai. It just so happened a couple of days later, Siu Mai found me. I was flicking through one of my favourite food magazines, Gourmet Traveller, and stumbled upon a recipe for Siu Mai by one of the most well known Asian chefs in Australia, Tony Tan.
I like Tony’s recipes because they can decode the seemingly hard-to-make Asian foods, and bring them into arms grasp of an achievable home cooked meal. I love how Tony describes Siu Mai – that they are to a Chinese person what a meat pie is to an Aussie, and they are considered to be one of the “big three” dim sum by the Cantonese (along with BBQ pork buns and translucent shrimp dumplings called har gau). Read the full article here. So that weekend, I put his recipe to the test.
I was overjoyed with how they turned out – plump, bouncy and tasted better than some of the yum cha/dim sum I ate while touring China in July. Nice work Tony! The recipe was easy to follow, and much easier to make than I expected. I sent this feedback to Tony via Instagram, and he was pleased. Now it’s your turn – have a try and let me know how you go – enjoy and good luck! (@brandothepig)
- 2 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 1 hour, stems removed, finely chopped [Use the big ones or add a few more if the mushrooms are smaller]
- 80g canned water chestnuts, chopped [This adds a great texture]
- 2 tbsp finely chopped ginger
- 1 spring onion, thinly sliced
- 2 tbs light soy sauce [I used mushroom soy sauce]
- 1½ tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
- 2 tsp sesame oil [I upgraded to 2tbs because I love sesame oil!]
- 300g skinned and boned pork belly, coarsely chopped [I minced the pork with a meat cleaver]
- 180g raw prawns, peeled, coarsely chopped [I started with approx 400g shelled banana prawns then shelled and de-veined]
- 1 egg white
- 2 tbs potato flour
- For added depth of flavour, next time I would experiment with adding toasted sesame seeds, breaking traditional, I know.
- ½ Carrot – to garnish, finely chopped. Traditionally the garnish is crab roe, but you can substitute with whatever ingredients you prefer
- Wonton wrapping sheets [I used Gow Gee wrappers from the local Asian store, but if you have the time, the Gourmet Traveller article also explains how to make them from scratch here]
- Combine all ingredients except the carrots and wonton skins. Marinate in the fridge for 20 minutes.
- Spoon 1 tbs of filling onto 1 wonton skin. Pull up the corners and gently mould into a siu mai shape. Just jump in the deep end and you’ll see it’s easier to mould than it sounds. Place the Siu Mai on a plate so the bottom is flattened. See the video here
- Add a pinch of the finely diced carrot on top to garnish
- Steam for 8-10 minutes until cooked through
- Serve with julienned ginger and dipping sauces. I used Sriracha, Chinkiang vinegar and soy sauce
Written by Brandon (@brandothepig), Melbourne.