You’re struggling to hear the conversation at your own table because everyone’s yapping loudly over everyone else.
With two hands you pick up the snow white teapot and start to pour for your elders, but alas this one has a leaky spout. The tablecloth ends up drinking most of the tieguanyin.
There’s a clinking together of dirty china as the waitress clears the adjacent table at breakneck speed. Seconds later, she’s masterfully resetting the bowls, plates, and chopsticks for a large group of gossipy old ladies.
Your belly rumbles as the cart trundles closer, bringing with it hot trays of freshly baked pastries and high towers of bamboo steamers all stacked full of dim sum.
The waitress lists her offerings, occasionally lifting the lids for a cheeky peek inside. Dishes are rejected and chosen, the bowls shifted around to make space on the rickety table. Your glasses fog up with steam, and you thank your lucky stars that you wore your loosest trousers for the occasion.
This is the chaotic but much-treasured scene of yum cha.
Yum cha, which literally means ‘drink tea’, is the time-honoured Cantonese version of morning tea. Many little dishes, called dim sum (literally, ‘to touch the heart’) are served with teas such as tieguanyin and pu’erh, which purportedly aid in the digestion of the rich foods.
We’ve frequented yum cha establishments with the family for as long as we can remember. In New Zealand, we’d often go for yum cha when it rained on Sundays, meaning we couldn’t set up shop ourselves at the market. In Hong Kong, top dim sum chefs ensure that the yum cha experience is as much a visual delight as it is an indulgence of the tastebuds. And of course, it is always a joy to partake in yum cha in London’s bustling Chinatown.
Today we’re sharing a recipe for our little brother Justin’s favourite dim sum, the siu mai (aka shumai). This open-top pork and prawn dumpling looks like a little nugget of gold when it emerges from the steamer. Siu mai are also easy to wrap, and you’ll find that the filling is very flavoursome – so much so that we definitely recommend forgoing the dipping sauces this time
SIU MAI: PORK AND PRAWN STEAMED DUMPLINGS
100g pork loin (approx. 1 loin)
50g raw prawns, unshelled (approx. 6 prawns)
1 Chinese mushroom, soaked in hot water ~ 5-10min
1 slice ginger
1 pinch pepper
1/8t baking soda
3/4t light soy sauce
1t Shaoxing rice wine
1 1/2t water
1t sesame oil
10-12 wonton wrappers
1 cm carrot
Dice up the pork loin before proceeding to a d’huk it. Essentially, this means hacking it up into smaller pieces. This is a good way to let off some steam.
Chop prawns into small pieces, and d’huk lightly.
Dice ginger and softened mushroom into very little pieces.
Dice carrot into tiny pieces for the garnish.
Get yo mix on!
To a large bowl, add pork, ginger and mushroom. Leave out the prawn at this stage.
Add all of the marinade ingredients except for sesame oil.
Using your chopsticks, begin to mix the filling. Keep mixing vigorously in one direction so that the meat begins to bind together, about 2 minutes.
Add prawn and sesame oil, and gently mix to combine.
Cover and leave to rest in the fridge for an hour.
Wrap it up, Sofia Vergara style!
Use a cookie cutter (approx. 8cm diameter) to cut circles out of the wonton wrappers.
See the video for detailed instructions on how to wrap sexy siu mai with hourglass curves to rival Sofia’s!
Time to get steamy!
Add a few pieces of carrot to each dumpling before steaming the whole lot over vigorously boiling water for seven minutes.
If you are using a bamboo steamer, line the base with lightly greased parchment paper to stop the siu mai from sticking.
Don’t have a steamer? No worries! Check out the video for alternative methods of steaming with other kitchen kit.