Vietnamese Style Shu Mai

April  6, 2011
2 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Makes 24
Author Notes

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 (, 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

What You'll Need
  • For the shu mai:
  • 1/3 cup minus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 5 teaspoons rice flour
  • 1 ounce boiling water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 pound ground pork (not lean)
  • 1/4 pound cleaned uncooked shrimp, cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 teaspoon grated garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1/4 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons lemongrass, finely chopped (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons potato starch (or cornstarch)
  • fresh red chile, thinly sliced
  • cilantro leaves
  • For the dipping sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 gallic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh red chile pepper, minced
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Divide the meat mixture into 24 even pieces and roll each piece into a small ball. Set aside on a baking sheet.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. When they are cooked, garnish the top with fresh red chile and cilantro leaves.
  8. 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.
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43 Reviews

beejay45 October 8, 2016
I love the idea of the Vietnamese flavors in these. I've been making dumplings for years, my first efforts being appetizer-size lumpia, then on to siomai. One tip for those who want to make a large batch and freeze, freeze them first on a cookie sheet so they don't touch. When they're frozen solid, put them in a zipper bag or other tightly closed container. My first batch of lumpia I froze for a party, just stacked on a tray. Oh, what a mess. When they thawed, they were all stuck together and impossible to cook. Now I make maybe a hundred dumplings at a time, just spend a couple hours stuffing and folding. Love these and love even more that I can just grab a few from the freezer and have homemade anytime, in just a few minutes. Thank you, Yuko, for the great flavor and wrapper ideas. BTW, your dipping sauce is almost exactly the sauce that my friend's Chinese-Filipino mom used with her lumpia!
Connie November 10, 2014
I made these last night and they were delicious! I did not double the dough but wish I had. Luckily, I had some gyoza wrappers left over in my freezer that I used up. I served them as an appetizer before lemongrass pork banh mi. What a great dinner!
Brenzo December 11, 2011
Made these for supper tonight! Turned out great!!
I doubled the dough as A&M suggested, and I'm sure glad I did. I also had to add extra water to try and get the elastic quality to the dough. It must be a learned skill to get the wrappers so thin. I am excited to try again.
The flavors were awesome, and it was the recipe that finally forced me to buy a bamboo steamer!
Thanks so much!!
magicorobertopolini July 30, 2011
Which is the best way to freeze these? Just the filling or with the dough?
Yuko July 31, 2011
I always freeze them with the wrapper. When you steam them, take out from the freezer and put them in the steamer without defrosting. You can freeze just the filling and make the fresh dough again.
Jasmine April 20, 2011
I loved these! I didn't have the time to make my own dough (next time) but the filling is fantastic. I made a batch this weekend and, just like another commenter, meant to freeze a bunch, and instead ate them all! I'll have to make a double batch soon to freeze. Such a flavorful filling, really loved it.
Yuko April 20, 2011
I am glad to hear that you tried and it worked out well for you. I always make tons and freeze them too. FYI, you don't have to defrost them when you cook. Just steam a little longer!
fitsxarts April 17, 2011
these were fabulous! the filling is sublime and so fresh-tasting. my husband and i made a whole batching thinking we'd freeze half and we ate almost the whole thing! delish.
Yuko April 17, 2011
I am so glad to hear that you tried the recipe and worked out great for you.
lorigoldsby April 17, 2011
congrats yuko! love your wrapper recipe--this will definitely elevate our asian inspired dishes.
Yuko April 17, 2011
Thank you lorigoldsby.
thatgirl April 15, 2011
These look terrific. I'm having a friend for dinner and I think this might make a fun meal and evening activity. Anyone have any good suggestions for what to pair with this, as I fear I can't serve shumai alone.
Yuko April 15, 2011
How about green papaya salad or cucumber salad or Vietnamese Fresh Spring Roll which you can serve with same dipping sauce? Serve with rice (if you cook rice with some lemon grass, that makes even better!) with some fresh herbs and sriracha on top?
thatgirl April 15, 2011
A papaya or cucumber salad would be great. I couldn't figure out how filling this would be, but an Asian-inspired salad sounds just right. Thanks!
CalcuttaChow April 15, 2011
Yuko, this is so gorgeous. I wanted to ask if there is a vegetarian version of these. My husband doesn't eat meat and while I think there is really no substitute for shrimp and pork in shumai, let me know if you have any ideas.
Yuko April 15, 2011
Thank you CalcuttaChow! I can suggest to use a "firm" tofu. You put the tofu on the plate and warp with kitchen towel. Then put some heavy item like a fry pan. Wait for 30 minutes or more to get rid of water. Use your hand and mix with rest of the ingredients in the recipe. Don't forget to add starch. It will be very light and fluffy shu mai. I hope this helps.
littlelemon January 7, 2018
Thanks Yuko! What about an all-seafood version? Would you suggest simply increasing the shrimp or using a ground fish in place of the pork?
Yuko January 8, 2018
All Shrimp would work perfectly. You can either keep all shrimp to be chunks or ground some but not all of the shrimp more. Potato (or corn) starch will bind all together either way.
TiggyBee April 15, 2011
What a beautiful recipe. Congrats to you!
Yuko April 15, 2011
Thanks TiggyBee!
fiveandspice April 14, 2011
Congrats! These look so delicious! Perfect flavors, and I just love having this recipe for wrappers.
Yuko April 15, 2011
Thanks fiveandspice. Vietnamese flavor combo is absolutely my favorite!
edamame2003 April 14, 2011
i love that you made a banh mi-style wrapper! brilliant flavors--congrats on being a finalist! i will definitely try these for my son's next batch of lunch dumplings.
Yuko April 14, 2011
I am a sucker for banh mi or Vietnamese food in general. So when I thought combining my favorite shu mai and Vietnamese flavor, I know it would work. I hope you would like them.
boulangere April 14, 2011
I love, love, love shu mai. Like Amanda and Merrill, though, I never thought of them as something I would, or even could, make. Your instructions are so precise and clear that I might just try. Thank you.
Yuko April 14, 2011
I know, Me too. I love love love shu mail and it is actually quite easy to make. Once you start making your own shu mai, there is no go back.
boulangere April 14, 2011
Thank you for the encouragement.
cheese1227 April 14, 2011
My husband will love these.
Yuko April 14, 2011
My husband loved it too!
healthierkitchen April 14, 2011
Congrats Yuko! Beautiful!
Yuko April 14, 2011
Thanks healthierkitchen.
Bevi April 14, 2011
These look and sound great!
Yuko April 14, 2011
Thanks Bevi!!
gingerroot April 14, 2011
Congratulations, yuko! So glad to see these are a finalist - looking forward to making them.
Yuko April 14, 2011
Thanks ginerroot : ) It is really fun to make shu mai so give it a try.
mrslarkin April 14, 2011
Fantastic! So glad you've given us a recipe for the dough! Congrats on being a finalist!
Yuko April 14, 2011
Thank you so much. This is so exciting! I got something to celebrate.
hardlikearmour April 14, 2011
Congratulations! These sound really delicious, and I love that you make the dough from scratch.
Yuko April 14, 2011
Thank you! I am a dough lover : )
Midge April 7, 2011
Sounds delicious!
Yuko April 8, 2011
Thanks Midge. I hope you will try sometime.