If you’ve ever been to a dim sum restaurant, you’ve probably eaten shu mai. Shu mai are little open-topped filled dumplings that usually come to your table in little steamer baskets. Shu mai rank among our favorite dumplings, and are both fun to make and eat. They don’t take a lot of effort and are very forgiving for the uninitiated – much easier than wontons or potstickers. Think of them as delicious little meatballs held in a tender, noodle-like wrapper.
Shu mai are most often made with pork and shrimp, but there are many regional and seasonal variations. We like this one in particular, which is made with ground turkey or chicken instead of pork. The texture is a little firmer than the pork version, and while they’re much lighter and lower in calories, they’re still very, very tasty.
The ingredients in shu mai can vary considerably. We wanted to experiment with an intriguing ingredient that we’ve been enjoying lately: black garlic. We were quite pleased with the results. The complex flavor of black garlic is quite subtle, but it never gets lost in the crowd. While it’s not assertive in flavor, black garlic holds its own quite well against the mixture of traditional Asian seasonings. Sweeter and much milder than “regular” garlic, black garlic doesn’t have the same sharp bite and won’t linger on your breath the way fresh garlic can.
Our dipping sauce also contains a unique ingredient that we’re raving about just now: BLiS smoked soy sauce. This is soy sauce on a higher plane. The best soy sauces come from Japan, where they have centuries of experience in traditional soy-brewing techniques. BLiS starts with a high quality, naturally-brewed Japanese soy sauce that has already been aged for a year in Japan, then smokes it and ages it further in oak barrels that have first held Kentucky bourbon and then pure Michigan maple syrup. These additional painstaking steps add layer upon layer of incredible complexity, with subtle nuances of smokey flavor that aren’t found in any other soy sauce in the world.
Black Garlic Shu Mai with Smoked Soy Dipping Sauce
(adapted from Nicole Routhier)
- 12 oz ground turkey or chicken
- 4 oz raw shrimp, shelled, deveined, coarsely chopped
- 6-7 cloves black garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 large egg white
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
- 1 Tbsp dry sherry or Shaoxing wine
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 1/4 cup chopped scallions
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
SMOKED SOY DIPPING SAUCE
- 1/2 cup BLiS smoked soy sauce
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 4 tsp sugar
- 2 Tbsp chopped scallion
- 1-2 Tbsp minced garlic
- 4 tsp finely shredded ginger
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tsp chili oil
- 32+ wonton or gyoza wrappers
- 32+ fresh or frozen green peas, optional
PREPARE THE FILLING:
Put the mushrooms in a small bowl, add boiling water to cover; soak until soft, about 30 minutes. Drain, save the liquid for making soup or your favorite recipe. Squeeze the mushrooms dry. Cut off and discard the stems. Mince the mushroom caps and place them in a mixing bowl. Add the turkey or chicken and all the remaining filling ingredients, and mix well. Let stand for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to marry.
PREPARE THE DIPPING SAUCE:
Place the smoked soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan over moderate heat and bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the scallions, ginger, garlic, sesame oil and chili oil. Cover and set aside.
ASSEMBLE THE SHU MAI:
Place 1 tablespoon of the filling in the middle of a wrapper. If using square wrappers, bring two opposite corners towards the middle, gently squeezing them into place. Now bring the remaining two corners together and squeeze once more to form a wrinkled cup around the filling. (If using circular gyoza wrappers, gather the edges around the filling. Then, holding the little packet in the palm of your hand, lightly squeeze the dumpling between your index finger and thumb to form a sort of “waist”.) Use a teaspoon dipped in hot water to press the filling down so that it is smooth on the top and compact. If you are using peas to garnish each shu mai (highly recommended), lightly press 1 pea into the center. Place the filled dumpling on a lightly floured baking sheet. Cover with a clean towel while you fill the remaining dumplings.
STEAM THE DUMPLINGS:
Fill the bottom of a steamer pot or pan with an inch or two of water – enough to form a generous resevoir of water, but not enough to boil up above the bottom of the steamer. Lightly oil a steamer tray or basket and lower into the pot. Bring to a boil over moderate heat. Working quickly, place the dumplings upright on the steamer basket, a 1/2 inch or so apart. Cover and steam for 5 minutes over high heat.
Serve immediately with the dipping sauce.
NOTE: The dipping sauce and filling can be prepared a day ahead, covered and refrigerated. The dumplings can be assembled ahead of time, covered and refrigerated overnight or frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw them in the refrigerator before steaming. You may wish to double this recipe and freeze some for impromptu hors d’oeuvres.
Many of the ingredients used in this recipe, and other recipes on the Earthy Delights Blog, can be purchased online at our retail website, Earthy.com. We welcome you to visit the Earthy.com website to view our extensive selection of hard-to-find ingredients and our complete Recipe Collection of over 500 tested recipes.
For even more news, information and recipes, sign up for the free Earthy Delights email newsletter.