SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - Like ramen and gyoza, shumai is a Japanese food item with Chinese origins.
In the book Overseas March: How The Chinese Cuisine Spread, published in 2011, writer Naomichi Ishige notes that in the late 19th century, Japan's port cities of Kobe and Yokohama had Chinatowns, but Chinese food was not yet popular with the Japanese.
Around 1910, more Chinese restaurants started springing up.
More than a decade later, with industrialisation, dining out became part of the urban lifestyle, and there was an emergence of eateries serving Chinese food cooked by Japanese chefs who used local ingredients and Japanese seasonings to cater to the local palate.
Many of these diners served popular items such as yakisoba (fried noodles), fried rice and shumai.
Unlike the yellow wrappers used for making Chinese siew mai, the Japanese ones are white and slightly smaller.
I recommend using pork collar meat for the filling as it is not too oily or too lean. I added egg white to help bind the mixture and to smoothen its texture.
I must confess I was generous with the filling (40g for every shumai), to literally wrap things up quicker.
The recipe yields 17 plump pieces of shumai. If you cannot eat it all at one go, freeze the raw dumplings in an air-tight and freezer-friendly container.
Simply defrost and steam when you want to eat them. They should keep safely in the freezer for at least a week or two.
300g minced pork collar
2 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked and diced
100g yellow onion, chopped
3 Tbs cooking sake
1 Tbs mirin
1 tsp light soya sauce
1 tsp salt
1 egg white
1 Tbs cornflour
17 pieces of shumai wrappers (6.5cm by 6.5cm)
17 frozen green peas, defrosted
1. In a bowl, place the minced pork, diced mushrooms and chopped onion. Add cooking sake, mirin, light soya sauce and salt.
2. Add the egg white and cornflour. (Below)
3. Mix until ingredients are evenly distributed.
4. Place a large tablespoon (40g) of minced pork filling in the middle of one shumai wrapper.
5. Wrap up the sides, leaving the top open.
6. Place the shumai on a flat surface and holding it by the sides, lightly press it down to flatten the base of the shumai. Repeat the process for each shumai.
7. Garnish each shumai with a green pea.
8. Line a bamboo steamer with baking paper.
9. Place shumai inside.
10. Steam the shumai for 10 minutes.
11. Serve piping hot.
(Makes 17 pieces)