Shanghai Shao Mai (Sticky Rice Dumplings)

August 23, 2021
1 Ratings
Photo by Woonheng Chia
  • Prep time 4 hours 30 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • makes 50 to 60 dumplings
Author Notes

When you hear shao mai (also spelled siu mai and shumai), you might think of steamed pork dumplings with yellow wrappers, often found at dim sum places. There is actually another version, called Shanghai shao mai, that is filled with sticky rice. It’s equally delicious and can be veganized easily, as I’ve done here by skipping the pork (mushrooms and bamboo shoots add plenty of umami and meatiness). Shanghai shao mai have a distinct look that resembles a vase, with a round bottom, slender middle, and wide opening at the top. From the side angle, the top looks like a bouquet of flowers. To create this shape, the dumpling wrapper circumference needs to be thin and frilly. This can be done using your fingers, pinching and squeezing the edges. While you can swap in homemade dumpling wrappers (they’re even easier to shape), I call for store-bought wrappers here to cut down on the overall work. I like serving these with hoisin sauce and chile oil. —WoonHeng Chia

What You'll Need
  • 400 grams (2 cups) glutinous rice (I use Thai glutinous rice)
  • 1-inch piece ginger
  • 10 dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated in hot water until soft
  • 150 grams fresh or canned bamboo shoots
  • 3 tablespoons neutral oil (such as vegetable or grapeseed)
  • 3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
  • 2 tablespoons vegan oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons umami seasoning (such as Yondu), plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 dash white pepper
  • 50 to 60 round dumpling wrappers, at room temperature
  1. Prepare the rice: Rinse the rice with water to remove dust. Transfer the cleaned rice to a bowl and cover with at least 2 inches of water. Soak for 4 to 12 hours.
  2. When ready, strain the rice, then transfer it to a parchment-lined bamboo steamer, spreading it out for even cooking. Steam for 25 to 30 minutes, until the grains turn opaque.
  3. While the rice is cooking, prepare the filling: Finely mince the ginger. Finely dice the mushrooms and bamboo shoots.
  4. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Sauté the ginger until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and golden-brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the bamboo shoots and stir-fry just to combine. Add the soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, oyster sauce, sugar, umami seasoning, salt, and pepper. Stir in 2 cups of water, then add the steamed rice. Using a silicone spatula, gently press and toss the rice until all the grains are covered with sauce, about 2 minutes. The texture of the rice should be soft—if the rice appears to be too dry or undercooked, add more water, 2 tablespoons at a time. Taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
  5. Set up a dumpling assembly station: Fill a small bowl with water and grab a soup spoon. To wrap the shao mai, wet both your thumb and index finger with water. Pinch and squeeze the edge of the dumpling wrapper in a circular motion to create a frilly, thin edge like a lotus leaf. Dip a spoon in the water and place a heaping spoonful of filling in the middle of the wrapper. Now cup the fingers of your nondominant hand to make a C shape. Place the wrapper in the middle of the C shape (in the crook of your hand) so that the filling is in your palm and the wrapper is laying on the outside of your hand. Use your thumb and index finger to close the C shape to create an O shape; this will adhere the wrapper to the sides of the filling. Help it adhere by crimping the wrapper around the edges of the filing with your dominant hand (the top of the filling should be exposed). Dip the spoon in water again and gently press the rice into the wrapper. Press the dumpling onto a work surface to flatten the bottom so it can stand upright. You’re aiming for a finished dumpling that looks like a vase, with a large round bottom, a slender middle, and a wide top.
  6. Transfer as many dumplings as will fit to a parchment-lined bamboo steamer rack—they shouldn’t be touching. (Depending on the size of your steamer, you’ll probably need to do a few batches of steaming.) Fill the steamer pot with water and turn on the heat. Once the water starts to boil, set the steamer rack on top, cover, and steam for 10 to 12 minutes, until the dumpling wrappers are fully cooked and opaque. Serve immediately and repeat with the remaining dumplings. (You can also store the cooled steamed dumplings in the freezer and resteam when ready to eat.)

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1 Review

txchick57 August 25, 2021
These look delicious. My favorite F52 contributor