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  • Writer's pictureLuis and JudyAnn

Sumptuous Shao-mai

Updated: Oct 8, 2020

The best thing about these delicately dainty dumplings? They couldn't be easier to assemble. They're like open little baskets of goodness.

Gazing at the Dim Sum cart full of Shao Mai trundles through the narrow gaps between the tables and chairs in a crowded Dim Sum restaurant will guarantee to make anyone's belly rumbles.

Compare a map of China to any other country in the world to understand how a filling dish like Shao Mai has earned several different names. It basically comes down to which part of the world they’re prepared and served

If you are vaguely familiar with dumplings, you may have noticed various spellings for them in English. "Siu Mai" is the Cantonese pronunciation. Cantonese-style Siu Mai are the version that most people are familiar with. They’re round and the filling is wrapped in circular dumpling skins. The filling consists of both pork and shrimp. Other additional ingredients may include ginger, shiitake mushrooms, and scallions. "Shao Mai" is the Mandarin pronunciation of the pork dumplings. Not only are they pronounced differently, Northern-style Shao Mai look different as well. Northern-style Shao Mai are often filled with sticky rice and mince meat and they are shaped like a vase (they have a narrow neck and a wider base).

Dumplings come in many shapes and sizes, but plump pork and shrimp Shao Mai with their unmistakable combo of Asian aromatics and seasoning are a staple in dim sum carts around the world.If you are a fan of these tasty bites, it is totally worth the time to make them in your own kitchen. They are really easy to prepare with ready-to-use Shao Mai wrappers you can find at the frozen section of your local Asian market. These wrappers are small round wrappers about 3 inches in diameter. If you can’t find Shao Mai wrappers, get square wonton wrappers. They will work.

Shao Mai are delicately flavored and elegant little bites that are perfect for a dim sum platter or as a party appetizer. Or, quite honestly, any excuse you like. Once you start, you’ll find them easier to make that you expect and such a delicious reward to eat. Enjoy!


For the filling:

  1. 1 lb. ground pork

  2. 2 ounces peeled and deveined shrimp, minced

  3. 1/4 cup dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated and minced

  4. 2 tbs. soy sauce

  5. 1 tbs. Shaoxing cooking wine

  6. 1/2 tbs. sesame oil

  7. 1/2 tsp. freshly ground white pepper

  8. 2 ounces of scallions, trimmed and minced

  9. 1 ounce, peeled and minced

  10. 1 1/2 tbs. of canola oil

For assembly and serving:

  1. 18 round dumpling wrappers

  2. Soy sauce, for serving


  1. Create the filling: In a large bowl, combine all the filling ingredients and mix until well-incorporated.

  2. Assemble the Shao-mai: For each Shao mai, spoon 2 tbs. of the filling into the center of a dumpling wrapper. Using a butter knife, press the edge of the wrapper in toward the center. Continue this around the circumference of the wrapper, indenting every 1/4 inch.

  3. Heat a 10 inch non-stick skillet then canola oil.

  4. Place Shao mai on skillet and cook right side up over low to medium heat for roughly minute.

  5. Then add a little water – enough to cover the bottom of the pan – and close with a lid. Leave them to steam for approximately 5-6 minutes.

  6. Once the water evaporates, remove the lid and serve.


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