Shu mai — you know, those tasty, little, open-faced dumplings that are standard fare on Sunday dim sum carts. And, for that matter, on the menu of most all respectable Chinese restaurants across the country.
Well, if you like those appealing Asian bites as much as I do, this blog post is for you. Especially if you’re up for learning how to make some.
I’ve been making shu mai for quite a while now. Can’t get enough of them. Not only are they tasty, they’re easy to do. And, I’ve been told, they look pretty cool on the plate. Have them as an app. or a main.
These days, I’ve been experimenting. Ever since I found a recipe by Ming Tsai, the chef from Blue Ginger, near Boston. He does East-West takes on classic Asian dishes. His “Smoky Turkey Shu Mai” sounded sensational. But I didn’t want the butter — or the heavy cream.
So I modified the recipe. Added a different sauce. And Asian slaw.
Now there was smokiness, a bit of heat, balanced with the acid from rice vinegar and lemon juice. All brightened by cilantro and chives.
Smoky Turkey Shu Mai with Chipotle Sauce and Asian Slaw.
Here’s what you’ll need to make the dish:
1 lb. ground turkey
Small can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 lg. egg
2 TBS chopped yellow onion
1/4 cup + 1 TBS chopped cilantro / divided
1 TBS chives
1 tsp finely chopped shallot
1 tsp finely chopped garlic + 1 clove / divided
1/4 cup + 1/3 cup seasoned rice vinegar / divided
Juice of half lemon
Bag (16oz) of pre-sliced cabbage
1 tsp dark sesame oil
Fresh ground pepper
1 cup + 1/4 cup canola oil / divided
1 pkg. gyoza wrappers (from the Asian market)
First the filling. In a bowl, mix 1 lb. ground turkey with 2 TBS chopped onion, 1 TBS chopped cilantro, 1 TBS chopped chives, 1/4 tsp salt, a few grinds of fresh pepper, 1 TBS pureed chipotle*, one beaten egg. Then cover and refrigerate while you make the sauce and slaw.
(*To puree, take a small can of chipotles and buzz in a blender. I use a hand-held immersion blender. It’s much easier to clean. You can save what’s left over in the fridge to use another time in sauces or soups.)
Now for the sauce. In a large measuring cup or tall glass put 1 TBS pureed chipotle, 1 tsp finely chopped garlic, 1 tsp finely chopped shallot, a packed 1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro, 1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar, juice of half a lemon and a cup of canola oil. With the immersion blender again, buzz everything till well blended. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. And maybe more chipotle if you’d like added heat.
To make the Asian slaw, whisk together 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar, 1/4 cup canola oil, 1 clove garlic – crushed thru a press, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1/2 tsp salt in a large bowl. Add the cabbage and toss.
Finally, the shu mai. Grab your goyza wrappers and the turkey filling from the fridge. Hold a wrapper in the palm of your hand. Place 1/2 TBS of filling in the center. Bring the sides of the wrapper up around the filling, turning so they adhere and then tap the bottom of the shu mai against your work surface to flatten it. You can do it. Take a look at the photo above to see the shape. Repeat until you’ve used up all the filling.
Once you’re done, you can hold the shu mai in the fridge until you’re ready to cook. That’ll only take 8 minutes. Great for a dinner party.
When you’re ready, have the steamer set up over a large pot of boiling water about 2 inches deep. But before you do that — line the basket with lettuce leaves or spray it with vegetable spray to prevent sticking. Add the shu mai, and steam the little guys for about 8 minutes.
To assemble as a first course, put 3 shu mai on each plate along with some slaw. Then spoon chipotle sauce over each dumpling. You’ll want to bring the rest of the sauce to the table, everyone will want more.
And just in case you were wondering, “shu mai” translated from the original Cantonese means “to cook and to sell.” Because originally the dumplings were made mostly in restaurants, not in the home.