From America's Test Kitchen Season 11: Asian Favorites at Home
Every so often we’ll land on an exemplary version of shu mai (steamed Chinese dumplings)—one that boasts a tender, thin skin and a moist, flavorful filling. Our goal was to replicate this version at home.
Our favorite restaurant dumplings rely on coarse-ground pork and shrimp. We started with the pork. To ensure proper flavor and texture, we chose to chop the pork (boneless country-style ribs) in a food processor rather than relying on supermarket ground pork. Supermarket ground pork is often inconsistent—some packages can be lean, while others are riddled with fat and the grind itself is never consistent; one package could be almost pastelike while another might contain visible chunks of meat and fat. To prevent the meat from drying out during steaming, we mixed in a little powdered gelatin dissolved in soy sauce. As for the shrimp, we added that to the food processor, too. Dried shiitake mushrooms, minced cilantro, fresh ginger, and water chestnuts were just a few of the ingredients we relied on to round out our flavorful filling.
For our dumpling wrappers, we chose widely available egg roll skins and cut them into rounds with a biscuit cutter. Once we added the filling and gathered the edges of the wrappers up around each one, we steamed our dumplings in a steamer basket. Served with a hot chili sauce, our dumplings were full-flavored and virtually foolproof.
Makes about 40 dumplings, serving 6 to 8 as an appetizer
Do not trim the excess fat from the ribs; it contributes flavor and moistness. Use any size shrimp except popcorn shrimp; there’s no need to halve shrimp smaller than 26 to 30 per pound before processing. The dumplings may be frozen for up to 3 months; cook them straight from the freezer for about an extra 5 minutes. Read about our favorite steamer basket in related testing. To jury-rig one, follow the instructions in related How to Cook. For more options on wrappers, see related How to Cook. Serve shu mai with store-bought chili oil or make your own (see related recipe).