Traditional Cantonese Siu Mai 燒賣 dumplings are steamed pork dumplings that often include shrimp and mushrooms and are topped with minced carrots, green pea, or fish roe. This type of dumpling is popularly enjoyed in Dim Sum restaurants or at street food stalls. They are called siu mai because in Chinese, Siu Mai means "to sell quickly" and they usually do because they are such a tasty food that is easy to make and even easier to eat! At the dim sum restaurant, they will usually come in a bamboo steamer, whereas in a street stall, they may be served in a cup with skewers to eat, or served already on a skewer for easy travel and eating!
For me and my hubby, siu mai is a dish that we always ordered whenever we went with our families and friends to dim sum, a staple that you simply need to get in order to have a complete and satisfying dim sum experience. Other dim sum staples include cheung fun (steamed rice noodles) and har gao (crystal skin shrimp dumplings). Since the start of the COVID19 pandemic, I have been slowly learning to recreate our favorite dim sum dishes at home, from ha cheung (steamed rice noodles with shrimp) to lo bak go (steamed/pan-fried turnip cake), and now siu mai!
Try some of my other dim sum recipes:
Shrimp Cheung Fun
Chinese Turnip Cake
The filling for siu mai is very similar to our Shrimp & Pork Wonton filling in that it involves shrimp and pork and similar seasonings, and for the wrappers you can also use wonton wrappers. However, if you are able to find siu mai wrappers at your local Asian super market, I highly recommend using those as they are even thinner than wonton wrappers and lends to a much more authentic siu mai texture.
Some tips for making delicious siu mai ingredients:
Making siu mai is simple! After mixing all your dumpling filling ingredients, let it marinate for about 4-6 hours and then you are ready to wrap the siu mai. The siu mai are wrapped as an open faced dumpling, meaning you don't close all the edges as you would in a normal boiled or pan fried dumpling, and you see the meat filling. The dumpling is shaped in such a way that the bottom is flat and sits straight up in the steamer.
Once your dumplings are made, you top it with your choice of either finely minced carrots or fish roe. This gives extra flavor to your dumpling with subtle sweetness (for carrot), whereas the fish roe adds a bit of saltiness with the briny ocean flavor. It is minor, but it definitely levels up the variety of flavors and textures of your siu mai and is so delicious! I also like to add a single green pea on top of each siu mai for color, and honestly it doesn't add a whole lot to the flavor, but it looks cute and is what I see at many dim sum restaurants so it make the siu mai feel more legit when eating it at home, haha!
Now that I have mastered making siu mai at home, I want to try frying them in a tempura-like batter for added crispy texture outside--I have a feeling it would be dangerously delicious! I hope you enjoy this steamed siu mai recipe as much as we do and try it out at home!
STEAMED SHRIMP & PORK SIU MAI
Until next time,
Cantonese style chow mein is characterized by a bed of crispy pan fried noodles topped with a delicious brown sauce with stirfried meat and veggies—it could be seafood, beef, chicken, etc. The brown sauce is usually a base of soy sauce and oyster sauce thickened by a cornstarch slurry.
Chow mein was often a dish we ordered when we went to a Cantonese restaurant or dim sum place and got as an "add on" dish (because for us, when we went for dim sum, we ate dim sum, and any other "entree" is really just in case you aren't full, or you want to bring it home as leftovers, haha). My dad would often order the chicken chow mein for us to eat and it is a memory I often associate with whenever I see it on the menu. I love the way the pan fried noodles would crackle and crunch when you cut into them, and how tender and moist the protein always was, regardless of whether it was chicken, beef, or pork.
The reason for this is due to the marinade used for the protein and then cooking it on high heat—this is a process called 'velveting' and it locks in all the juices, making even chicken breast tender and yummy.
Since we've been craving childhood favorites lately, and because there is truly a shortage of good, authentic Asian eats where I live, I found our local mini Asian market sold chow mein in their freezer, I decided to make this restaurant favorite at home! I air fried the noodles rather than frying the noodles pan or wok of oil so it is just mildly healthier than the restaurant version! It was so crispehhhhhh 😍
The package of chow mein noodles we got had 4 servings, so we just used half and saved the other half to make again later in the week. You can always make as much as you want, but we have a small airfryer so it wouldn't have fit all of it in one go anyway, haha. Be sure to get the thin chow mein noodles--thick noodles won't crisp up the same way.
AIR FRYER BEEF CHOW MEIN
Makes 2 servings
Air Fryer Chow Mein
- 1/2 package Chow mein noodles
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- salt* optional
Marinade for Beef
- 6 oz beef, sliced into bite sized pieces
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 3 stalks of scallions
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 cup water or low sodium chicken broth
1. Marinate your sliced beef in 1 tbsp cornstarch, a sprinkling of salt, black pepper, sugar, oyster sauce, and 2 tbsp water. Mix well and let marinate for 10 minutes.
2. Boil the chow mein noodles briefly, about 1-2 minutes. Then drain and run through cold water to remove any excess starch, and get rid of as much liquid as possible in the strainer. Use paper towels to dry if needed.
3. Add the olive oil and sesame oil to the chow mein in a large mixing bowl and mix well to ensure the noodles are coated. You can add a pinch of salt and mix in as well, but optional.
4. Lay the noodles flat in your air fryer rack with a piece of parchment paper underneath the noodles. Airfry at 380°F for 10 minutes. Then flip the noodles and move the noodles around so that all the crispy edges are under and the non crispy noodles are exposed. Airfry again at 380°F for 7 minutes. At this point, check to see if it is crispy throughout, and if not, mix the noodles and make sure the non crispy noodles are exposed and airfry again, 3 minutes at a time until it reaches desired crispness. The time may differ based on how dry you were able to get your noodles.
5. While the noodles are airfrying, add a little oil to your fry pan and cook your beef until seared brown on all sides. Remove from the pan and cook your onions in the remaining oil until onions are brown and translucent.
6. Make your sauce mixture with cornstarch, water (or low sodium chicken broth), oyster sauce, light soy sauce, sugar, and black pepper. Add your beef back in, add scallions, and add the sauce mixture and mix. Cook until the sauce thickens and taste—add salt if needed, but if you use chicken broth, most likely do not need extra salt. Once the sauce is thickened to your desired consistency, shut off the heat.
7. Once airfried chow mein noodles reach the desired crispness, put onto a large plate and spoon the beef and onions sauce on top. Garnish with more scallions if desired and enjoy!
Until next time,
Got leftover rice? Try making congee! Congee is a rice porridge, also called jook 粥 in Cantonese or zhou in Mandarin. It is slowly cooked over a low fire with any variety of ingredients your heart desires, but one of the popular variations is century egg with learn pork and chopped scallions. Other types may include seafood congees with shrimp, scallops, squid, and fish, or simple congees with just chicken. Most of them also incorporate ginger which brings a warm balance to the porridge. Typically it is eaten as a breakfast item with crispy fried youtiu 油条, which are fried sticks of dough that is used for dipping into the congee. (Youtiu is also delicious to dip into hotpot broth!) It's a great vessel to soak up liquid flavors.
Congee can be made from scratch with fresh rice (though it can take longer) or if you're lazy like me, I use leftover or extra white rice that I have on hand from another meal. Once the jook is ready to eat, you can serve it with side dishes like pork floss (dehydrated pork that is dried and fluffy, seasoned with soy sauce and sugar), pickled cucumbers, spicy bamboo shoots in chili oil, roasted peanuts, and more.
This is a dish that is close to my heart because my grandmother made it often for us for breakfast, or whenever my tummy didn't feel well. A warm bowl of jook cooked with chicken was comforting and easy on the stomach, and had such pure, delicious chicken flavor infused into it. Grandma always makes her jook super soft and thick and called it "BB jook" because it's how she made it for us when we were babies--she would spoon feed us the jook instead of American style baby food haha. This is a dish that is made with love and care deeply imbued into it. ❤️ Century egg and lean pork congee is also a congee we would be able to buy at restaurants or Chinese eaters in Chinatown, but of course, only grandma and dad made the best jook that money can't buy 😊
You can find century egg in most Chinese grocery stores, either in the refrigerated section or on a shelf where they keep dried goods. Century egg is a preserved and cured duck egg--it is not actually a century old, though when you crack it open it certainly looks like something that might have been, haha! It's characterized by dark brownish jelly like outside, with a blackish green gooey yolk inside. It is definitely an acquired taste to beginners, but there is something about it that is so delicious once you grow accustomed to it. You can eat it in steamed dishes, in congee, or just peel, cut and enjoy with vinegar dressing over cold silken tofu as an appetizer!
Now that I'm older and cook for myself and my hubby, I make congee from time to time and it brings back fond memories of my grandmother making it for me, or of his mom making it for him. It's something that is both comforting and nostalgic, and I hope you enjoy it as well!
CENTURY EGG CONGEE WITH LEAN PORK
- 2 cups cooked leftover rice
- 1 can chicken broth
- 2-3 cups water
- 2 century eggs peeled and chopped up
- 100 grams sliced pork loin or pork butt into slivers (about 1/4 pound)
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 3 stalks of green onions
- 2 slices of thinly julienned ginger
- 1 tbsp chicken bouillon powder
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tbsp white pepper
- salt to taste
1. Cut your pork into thin slivers and then coat it in cornstarch and a tbsp of oil. You can add a small pinch of salt to it and let it marinate for about 20 minutes.
2. Mix the leftover rice and break it up in a pot. Add your chicken broth and water.
2. Peel and rinse the century eggs and chop them up, add to the pot. Add the chopped up scallions and ginger to the pot.
3. Bring to a boil and add in your pork. Continue mixing, and once pork is cooked through, lower heat down to the lowest flame possible and let simmer for about 1-2 hrs. Mix once in a while to prevent the rice from sticking and burning at the bottom of the pot.
4. Keep an eye on the congee to ensure it doesn't get too thick--add water 1/4 cup at a time and mix if you want it thinner.
5. Once it reaches the consistency you like, add the chicken bouillon, salt, sugar, and white pepper to taste.
Enjoy with Chinese crispy pickled cucumber, spicy bamboo shoots in chili oil, or with pork floss!
Until next time,
Just a gal who loves to eat and cook ❤