I love to come up new ideas for dumplings. There are so many variations you can explore by just changing the stuffing, or even the wrapper. By simply changing the wrapper base from wheat flour to rice flour changes the whole experience, and of course the stuffing can be anything you imagine. Dumplings can be Chinese, Japanese, or even American, European, or African. There is no end to the combinations.
This time, however, after some experimenting, I decided to combine a Vietnamese twist on a traditional pork shu mai filling with a unique hybrid flour/rice wrapper to make a Vietnamese-style shu mai.
I actually started by comparing three different versions of a suitable wrapper using only ingredients that are easily found in U.S. supermarkets. The first was a traditional Chinese-style, using only all-purpose flour. The second was a mixture of rice flour and potato starch that gave the papers a slightly more Vietnamese flavor. They were really tasty right after I cooked the dumplings but because of the starch, they hardened quickly when they cooled. Finally, I settled on a mixture of all-purpose flour and rice flour. The papers have an interesting texture from the rice flour but they hold up well on the table, or even the next day.
I have step-by-step photos on how to form the shu mai dumplings on my website (http://www.cuisinivity.com/recipe/archive/appetizer/viet_shumai.php), if you want an illustration of the written instructions below. —Yuko
Test Kitchen Notes
As we put together yuko's beautiful little dumplings, we were struck by how satisfying it was to replicate a dish we'd eaten scores of times in restaurants, but never gotten around to making at home. Oh, the sense of accomplishment we felt tucking the gorgeous nuggets of filling into the delicate, homemade dumpling wrappers, and then gingerly gathering the edges together! The steamed shu mai, filled with a fragrant, lemongrass-spiked mix of shrimp and pork, are tender and light, and the tangy, hot dipping sauce is a great counterbalance. We were able to coax 18 dumpling skins from the dough, so you may want to double the recipe in order to use up all the filling. - A&M —The Editors
For the shu mai:
minus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
ground pork (not lean)
cleaned uncooked shrimp, cut into small pieces
Start with the wrappers. In a bowl, combine flour and rice flour. Add boiling water and oil then mix quickly with a fork. Use your hands to form the dough into a ball and knead it until it is smooth and elastic. Cover with plastic wrap and leave it on the counter for 30 minutes.
While the dough is resting, mix all the stuffing ingredients (pork through potato starch) in a bowl. Use your hands to blend the mixture until the meat becomes sticky.
Divide the meat mixture into 24 even pieces and roll each piece into a small ball. Set aside on a baking sheet.
Roll the dough on a floured surface into a long log and cut into 24 pieces. Keep the pieces under plastic wrap or a kitchen towel.
Take one piece of dough and roll it into a 3-inch circle. Put the wrapper on your thumb and index finger and put one of the small balls of meat on top. Slowly push down the shu mai into the hole between your thumb and index finger to wrap the wrapper around the meat ball. Push the edges of the wrapper inward in small folds covering the top edges of the meat. Some meat at the top should remain exposed. Put the shu mai on a floured plate or tray and cover with plastic wrap. Continue this process for the rest of the dumplings.
Before steaming, tap some water around the folded edges of the wrapper with your fingertips to help keep them from drying out. (If the wrapper is still moist already, skip it.) Steam the dumplings in a steamer on high heat for 6 to 7 minutes. Take one piece out of the steamer at the 5-minute mark to confirm the meat is cooked through.
When they are cooked, garnish the top with fresh red chile and cilantro leaves.
Mix all ingredients for the dipping sauce and serve on the side with the shu mai. Other condiments such as sweet chili sauce or soy sauce are good to serve with them as well.