New Year's Stars: Shao Mai
by Kate Heyhoe
Happy Lunar New Year! A reader recently requested a recipe for "shao mai," one of the loveliest of traditional Chinese dimsum. Shao mai are steamed open-topped dumplings, with the filling visible at top and the sides of the dumpling wrapper pinched into pleats. Various techniques exist for pleating them, but I've found the easiest and perhaps prettiest is to simply pinch the excess wrapper into eight-pointed stars. Here's how you do it:
Place a round shao mai or gyoza wrapper on the work surface. Spoon on a heaping tablespoon of filling. Lightly rub or brush the pastry surface surrounding the filling with water (I dip my finger into a bowl of water to do this). Place thumb and forefinger of each hand under the sides of the wrapper near the filling, then pinch the wrapper together from base of filling to top of wrapper. Give the wrapper a quarter turn and repeat, making two more pleats so the dumpling now looks like a square with flared corners. In between each corner of the square, repeat the pleating process to make an eight-pointed star.
Now, to push the filling up so it mounds on top, place the dumpling in one hand and gently press up on the bottom, pushing the filling up. Press the sides of each pleat together at the base, so that the pleat becomes longer and the base smaller. Set the dumpling on a cornstarch-dusted surface and continue with the remaining dumplings. The process actually goes quite quickly, and I usually work four dumplings at a time, filling all of them, wetting with water, then pleating each one.
After steaming, decorate the filling top with a sprinkle of black or white sesame seeds, minced green onion, or chili oil. If you don't have a bamboo or metal steamer, improvise with a large pot with a rack and a lid, and a lightly oiled heatproof plate or round cake pan.
Salmon Shao Mai Stars
by Kate Heyhoe
Makes 12 stars. Serves 4 as an appetizer; 2 as a light meal.
3/4 pound boneless salmon fillet, pinbones removed
1 green onion, minced (white and green parts)
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons dry sherry or Shao Xing wine
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
1 or 2 serrano or jalapeño chiles, seeds removed, minced
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
12 round shao mai or round gyoza skins
Lettuce leaves or parchment paper
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon lime juice (optional)
1 drop toasted sesame oil
1. Mix together all salmon filling ingredients. If desired, reserve 1 teaspoon minced green onion top for garnish.
2. Lightly dust a work surface with cornstarch.
3. On the work surface, set out four wrappers. (Cover the remaining wrappers with a damp towel to prevent drying out.) Spoon 1 heaping tablespoon filling in the center of each wrapper. Brush the surrounding wrapper surface with water. For each wrapper, crimp the sides up in 4 places, to make a square, pleating the excess dough and leaving the top exposed. Make 4 more pleats to form an 8-pointed star, and push the filling up from the base so it forms a mound. (See the headnotes for more details).
4. Set the dumplings aside on a cornstarch-dusted surface and cover with plastic wrap. Continue with the remaining wrappers. (Dumplings may be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated on a cornstarch-coated surface up to 3 hours before steaming.)
5. Fill the steamer pot with enough water to come just below the steamer rack. Cover the pot (without the rack inside) and bring the water to a boil. Prepare a bamboo or metal steamer rack by lining it with parchment paper or lettuce leaves. Arrange the dumplings about 1 inch apart on the rack. When the water boils, carefully remove the lid and place the rack in the steamer. Cover and steam about 7 minutes, until the dough and salmon are just cooked through. (Overcooked dough becomes mushy, and overcooked salmon dries out).
6. While the dumplings steam, mix together all ingredients for the Dipping Sauce.
7. Garnish the salmon tops as desired. Serve the steamed dumplings with the dipping sauce, either in one communal bowl or as small individual bowls per person.
Copyright © 2003, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page created February 2003