Wednesday, January 16th, 2013 | posted by mike
In the world of delicious stuffed dumplings, whether they’re Indian samosas, Korean mandu, Polish pirogies, Italian ravioli, Japanese gyoza (the list goes on and on), one of my all time favorites is the Chinese dim sum favorite, shumai. There are lots of regional variations; some include pork and mushrooms or pork and shrimp. Mixed seafood, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, ginger root, vegetables even lamb are used in some shumai.
My first taste of shumai was not in a Chinese restaurant but in a Japanese restaurant named Kamakura, here in Ann Arbor, back in the early 80s.The Japanese shumai are usually smaller and more finely ground than the Chinese style. Believe it or not, Kamakura was the only Japanese restaurant in town back then. They were seafood customers of ours and we would dine there a lot. After a hard day’s work at the fish market, my partner and our wives would slink into the sunken booths, sit on the floor, and dig into some shrimp shumai, gyoza, assorted sushi and lots of other goodies. The place was small, cozy and very authentic. Japanese magazines were lying around (with pictures of scantily clad beauties in them) and owner Jim Uchida would be on the phone yelling at someone who would inevitably be trying to order carry out chop suey; “this is not Chinese restaurant,” he would scream. It was tough being the only Japanese restaurant around.
Those were some good times, but back to the shumai. I don’t think that Kamakura’s shumai were made fresh, but we loved them just the same. You can buy a decent frozen shumai at any Asian store but you’ll be amazed at how good they can be fresh made with great ingredients. I used our wild gulf shrimp- any size will work (I used jumbos because there are fewer to clean). Use a large wok and a bamboo steamer, two fairly inexpensive items well worth having, great for whole fish and veggies. A vegetable steaming rack in a pot will work fine if you don’t have a bamboo steamer.
You can play with this recipe to your own taste. I love cilantro so I used a good amount. Mix in some pork or substitute scallops for the shrimp. Add some jalepeño pepper for a little kick, whatever. This recipe is fairly delicate and highlights the wild shrimp! I used wonton skins, which are a little larger than shumai skins. It worked well because there weren’t as many to make that way and they were more of a dinner size than an appetizer size. The dipping sauce is a little on the spicy side, the way I like it! The sauce was also great with the baby bok choy and rice that we served with it. Have Fun and enjoy!