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Open-Face Steamed Dumplings (Shao Mai)


This article is from the 20th Century Appetizer Recipes, with numerous contributions by famous and also anonymous cooks

Open-Face Steamed Dumplings (Shao Mai)


2/3 c All-purpose flour

2 tb-Hot water, plus:

2 ts-Hot water

Filling A

5 oz Regular or firm tofu-mashed

1 1/2 ts Tientsin preserved cabbage-minced (packed)

1 tb Presoaked & minced tree ears

1 tb Presoaded & minced lily buds

3 tb Black or shiitake mushrooms-(presoaked & minced)

1 1/2 ts Green onion, minced

1 ts Sesame oil

1 ts Vegetable oil

1/8 ts Salt

2 ts Soy sauce

Filling B

3 tb Water chestnuts, minced

3 tb Black mushrooms, minced-(presoaked)

3 tb Bamboo shoots, minced

3 tb Carrot, minced

2 ts Green onion, minced

1/2 ts Gingerroot, minced

1 tb Soy sauce

1/4 ts Cornstarch

1 1/2 ts Sesame oil

Dipping Sauce

Soy sauce Mushroom soaking liquid Sesame oil These little open-faced steamed dumplings, a popular item in dim sum teahouses, are a special treat, for you seldom see a vegetarian version. With their flowerlike appearance and savory filling, they are an attractive luncheon dish. You can use the ready-made wrappers, sold in refrigerated or frozen sections of some markets ("shu mai skins"). "Suey gow skins" or "gyoza wrappers" are too thick and will dry out during steaming. Wonton wrappers can be substituted, but trim off the pointed corners. Better yet, prepare your own wrappers according to the directions below.


To prepare wrappers, combine flour and hot water. Knead a couple of minutes into a smooth dough; cover and let rest at least 1 hour. Place on a lightly floured board, and knead for 2 minutes or so.

With palms of your hands, roll it into a long, cylindrical shape, 7-1/2 inches inches long, 1 inch in diameter. Cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces; you will have 15. If your climate is dry, keep the dough covered. Shape these, cut-side up, into a round shape. Flatten them with the palm or heel of your hand on a flour-dusted board. With a pastry roller, small rolling pin, piece of dowel, or even an empty jar --all of these should be wielded under the palm of your hand--roll each into a round wrapper, 3-1/2 inches in diameter, thicker in the center, thinner toward the edge. This is easily done by rolling the pastry roller from the edge of the piece of dough to the center, and back again, turning the dough counterclockwise a little with your left hand after each roll. Continue all the way around several times, also turning the dough over once or twice, until you have a thin, 3-1/2 inch wrapper.

Prepare Filling A or B by combining the ingredients. Place approximately 1 tablespoon filling on the center of each wrapper. Holding the wrapper on your left fingers, encircle it from below with your right thumb and index finger, gathering the wrapper up around the filling. Squeeze gently around the middle to make a kind of neck; some of the filling should emerge at the top. The bundle should hold together securely or it will collapse during steaming. Pat the bottom with your left hand to make a flat base. If the skin is not too floppy, you can also turn the edge slightly outward (like an open flower), pinching it if necessary to make it secure. Place a layer of damp cloth in a bamboo steaming basket or on a flat, perforated race (you can use a heatproof plate if you have neither of these, but circulation of steam is somewhat impaired this way). Arrange the shao mai on it. With the rack well above the boiling water in a steamer, steam for 10 minutes (if frozen, do not defrost first). They will stick to the cloth, but if you wash and reuse the same cloth each time, they will not stick as much.

Serve while still hot, before the skin hardens--as is, or with small dipping saucers of soy sauce and mushroom liquid (from the black mushrooms), mixed in equal proportions. Add a few drops of sesame oil. Advance preparation: These can be assembled in advance, frozen, and steamed just prior to serving. *

From: The Fragrant Vegetable, by Martin Stidham * Typed for you by Karen Mintzias


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