I’ve had it on my list for a while to repost this N&R entry here — next to brazo de mercedes and puto, it seems like siomai is the #3 request on this blog. The recipe here isn’t exactly for siomai, however, you can adapt it just by changing the way you wrap the dumpling. I’ll still post a siomai recipe sometime, but this is for those who have been asking — at least something to try in the meantime. If you want it more siomai-ish, don’t use cabbage, add some shrimp if you like and some finely chopped carrots to the mix, plus some chopped shiitake mushrooms (fresh or rehydrated).
When you wrap the siomai, have a bit of the meat peeking on top — best way to do this (I’ll have pics at some point) is to lay the dumpling wrapper over the side of your hand while you form an “O” with your fingers. Make an indentation in the middle and start stuffing it with the meat mixture. As you stuff it, apply a bit of pressure to push down the meat into the wrapper — this will push the dumpling down into your “O” and create natural pleats. When you’re almost at the top put the dumpling down on the counter to flatten the bottom and squeeze the pleats lightly to adhere and hold its shape.
This recipe is from the book Mrs. Chiang’s Szechwan Cookbook, a favorite of mine for many years. I know the Chinese are very particular about how to make this recipe, and some recipes for jiaozi specify how to stir the filling, what to add first, etc. However, in the interest of simplicity (and because my taste buds, though probably more refined than some, are not refined enough to distinguish results made different by the use of a stirring technique), I’ve chosen to vary the instructions here a bit — I sure hope the Chinese purists won’t mind too much. This should enable the beginner as well as the advanced cook to prepare something that’s very basic in Chinese cuisine.
You will recognize this as the pork dumpling which comes in many different shapes and guises at dimsum houses and other Chinese restaurants. You can make your own dough, or use store-bought dumpling wrappers at Asian stores. At any rate, it’s a dish worth making in the home because it’s fun, especially when you get your kids to help. You can freeze some for future use (emergency stash, for a party, etc.). You can steam, deep-fry, or cook it the traditional way (the boiling method posted here). Or, you can cook it “pot-sticker” way (see instructions below), which is how you will usually find this at most restaurants, where it shows up on menus as “Peking ravioli”, “wraplings”, and “crescents”, among other things.
The filling is so versatile that you can also use it to make siu mai, the steamed pork dumpling with an open top (with a little piece of shrimp or a sliver of shiitake mushroom on the top), or spring rolls (wrap in spring rolls and fry, that’s all there is to it), and as the meat and flavoring component for a vegetable stir-fry.
Ingredients for filling:
15 scallions, finely minced
1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, finely minced
1 lb. ground pork
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon ground roasted Szechwan peppercorns (available at Asian stores, whole and unroasted)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Here’s what szechwan peppercorns look like:
Ingredients for dough:
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup water
Or, use store-bought dumpling wrappers
I’ll let you in on my secret. This is somewhat tedious work. I’ve found that a pasta machine, while not traditional, is very handy for making and rolling the dough, and I’ve been making my dumpling wrappers using this for years (purists may frown on the method, but hey, it works!
Cutting the dumpling wrappers:
You can either roll everything out, then fill, or alternate between filling and rolling to break the monotony.
Fill each dough circle with 1 1/2 teaspoons meat mixture. Put the filling in the center, then fold the dough over the filling (but do not seal). Holding the jiaoz in one hand, start on one end of the folded circle, pleating the top half-circle with your other hand and pressing both halves to seal with the other as you pleat. You should end up with a little crescent-shaped pouch. This can get a little tricky, but it gets easier with practice.
Lay the filled jiaozi on the floured or lined platter, making sure they don’t touch as they tend to stick together. [You can freeze the dumplings at this point, then put them in a resealable plastic bag when they’re completely frozen.]
Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Cook jiaozi in batches, making sure they don’t crowd. The traditional way is to add jiaoz to the boiling water, then wait for the water to boil again, then add cold water to stop the process. Repeat boiling and adding cold water three times more, for a total of four times. The fourth time, remove jiaozi to a colander. Drain and serve hot.
If you would like to try cooking it “pot-sticker” style, pan-fry in a large skillet filmed with a bit of oil, in batches over medium heat. When the bottom is crusty, add water and simmer until completely cooked, about 15 minutes.
Jiaozi can be served plain, or with a simple sauce of just soy sauce and vinegar mixed together, or if you prefer, with this Szechwanese sauce:
4 cloves garlic, mashed to a paste with 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes in oil (Heat oil in a saucepan until hot and just beginning to smoke, then add red pepper flakes and remove from heat; let stand for 1 minute before using.)
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
A vegetable and meat filling can also be made by adding 2 cups of chopped cabbage or Chinese cabbage (salt lightly, set aside for 15 minutes, then squeeze out the excess moisture before using).
Green beans can also be used, pre-cooked for about 7 minutes before chopping and adding to bowl.
Spinach can also be used, but do not salt it; just chop and add to meat mixture.
You can also make vegetarian jiaoz by using a combination of green beans, cabbage, shiitake mushrooms and carrots, all chopped finely.
The finished product, ready for consumption:):