Siu Mai (shumai) is a type of Chinese steamed dumpling that is ever popular as part of a dim sum feast. Minced pork and prawn are wrapped in a ready made wonton wrapper and simply steamed. They are fun and easy to make in a large batch to stash extras in the freezer for later.
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I was taught how to make Siu Mai dumplings along with Har Gow and Fun Gao at London Cookery School back in 2017. I was blown away by how easy they all are to make and I’ve made several batches a few times since.
The ingredient list might look long and scary but everything can be purchased from any Asian grocers. I even recently checked out the tiny shop that I have here in Grimsby and I could get everything I needed. As an alternative, everything can be found and ordered online.
Steamed Dumpling vs Fried Dumplings
Different dumpling and their various skins generally warrant different cooking methods. These Sui Mai dumplings are almost exclusively steamed. The meaty filling remains tender and the wrapping becomes soft and silky.
But it is possible to deep fry them. I would fry at roughly 160c until golden brown and cooked through. You would need to treat them gently to ensure that they don’t unwrap and explode in the fryer. Non-traditional maybe, but tasty nonetheless.
How to Serve Siu Mai
I would most often serve Sui Mai as part of a selection of various dumplings. It is especially nice to combine some fried elements (I usually pan fry gyozas) and steamed dumplings.
Various dipping sauces are essential. My favourite to serve with such a flavourful dumpling like Siu Mai is my simple Dumpling Dipping Sauce. I sometimes add a little ginger paste if I’m feeling fruity.
Chopsticks are traditional when eating steamed dumplings but they can be very tricky to pick up and hold even for the chopstick competent. Don’t be embarrassed to use your fingers or a fork. A supportive soup spoon can help those determined to see the use of chopsticks through.
The most important thing when serving steamed dumplings is to serve them piping hot. I usually serve them to the table in their steaming basket placed on a plate. Take one and replace the lid. Repeat.
Make Siu Mai into a Feast
I truly believe that you can make any dish into a proper feast! Whether thats a feast for one after work on a Tuesday, a casual feast for four on a Friday evening or a feast for 12 for a special occasion!
There follows a selection of fabulous dishes to share including Korean Belly Pork, Teriyaki Tofu, Sesame Tenderstem and Sweet Chilli Salmon. It’s all served with Sticky Rice and followed by an unusual Chinese Steamed Cake.
Don’t forget to head over to the Big Asian Feast post for all of my tips and tricks to help you host a fun and stress-free feast. Plus remember to check out my other feast collections and all my Asian inspired recipes.
Ingredients for Siu Mai
Any size will do but it is important that they are raw, have no shell and have been de-veined. I keep a bag of frozen king prawns in my freezer for dipping into whenever I need to.
Chinese dried mushrooms can be bought in vac packed bags. They are not dry and crispy but soft and pliable. They can be easily cut and cooked with without being re-hydrated.
If you are struggling to find the dried mushrooms or simply can’t be bothered to look, simply omit the ingredient. I would not recommend substituting them with fresh as the moisture content will affect the filling consistency.
I have stated 20% fat is the ideal to provide just the right amount of moisture for the recipe. You can use leaner mince but you will end up with a drier filling. These dumplings are only little morsels, don’t skimp on the fat.
Wonton wrappers are usually found in the freezer section of Asian Grocers but they can also often be found in the freezer section of the supermarkets. Look for the “world foods”.
Wonton wrappers come in various sizes and in both round and square versions. You need to look for the smaller size which is roughly 3 inches in diameter or the size of your palm.
If you are only able to find the square ones, you can use a cookie cutter to make the square skins round.
To find out about more of my favourite Asian Ingredients, check out my guide to the Top 16 Asian Ingredients which I always keep stocked in my pantry.
I’ve also suggested a whole bunch of recipes to try once your cupboard is fully stocked!
My favourite shop-bought Sui Mai actually have a chicken based filling rather than the traditional pork and prawn. To make this version, substitute the prawn and pork mince with chicken mince. Turkey mince would also work.
Make it Vegetarian or Vegan
Try my Tofu Siu Mai Dumplings for a great vegetarian alternative to this pork filling. Alternatively the pork and prawn could be substituted with a vegetarian/vegan meat substitute.
The biggest problem for making a vegan version then becomes the wrapper which usually contains egg. I would then recommend making my Tofu Crystal Dumplings which use a homemade translucent dough which is totally meat and dairy free.
Make it Allergy Friendly
My Siu Mai dumplings are nut and dairy free.
Gluten Free: The only way to make these Sui Mai gluten free is to home make gluten free wrappers. The filling doesn’t contain any gluten containing ingredients.
Egg Free: Like with the vegan version, I would recommend making the dough from my Har Gow recipe instead of using wonton wrappers which consistently contain egg.
Please note that this recipe may contain other allergens not referred to above. For more information regarding any dietary information provided on this website, please refer to my Nutritional Disclaimer.
Equipment Notes for Siu Mai
There are various options for steaming the dumplings. I prefer to use bamboo steamers lined with parchment circles. They are easy, quick to clean and balance perfectly on my medium sized saucepan. Using the steamer part of my saucepan set is another option as would be using an electric steamer.
A comprehensive list of the equipment used to make this recipe is included in the main recipe card below. Click on any item to see an example. There are no hard and fast rules so many items can be sensibly substituted to achieve the same results.
The filling can be prepared up to a day before making the dumplings providing it is properly refrigerated. The filling mix can also be frozen and turned into dumplings at a later time.
The best thing about all of my Chinese Dumpling Recipes is that they can all be made in large batches, frozen and then simply steamed to order straight from frozen.
To freeze the dumplings, lay them out on a baking tray and pop them in the freezer. Try to make sure the dumplings are not touching as much as possible and that the wonton wrapper is nice and tightly wrapped around the filling. Any sticky-out bits are likely to snap off.
Once the dumplings are fully frozen, they can be much more tightly packed into trays or bags and popped back in the freezer in a much smaller space than before.
Leftover Siu Mai
To the extent possible I would recommend only cooking as many dumplings as you are likely to eat. Once steamed and cooled, they can be reheated in the microwave or re-steamed but they do have a tendency of going a little soggy.
The best way to cook leftover Sui Mai is to actually deep fry them. You can reheat the filling whilst making the outer skin much more crisp that you will otherwise achieve.
Siu Mai Tips
Try not to under or overfill the dumplings. After making one or two, you will get a feeling for how much filling is needed for each.
The overall shape you are looking for is a stumpy cylinder!
Don’t overcrowd your steamer basket. You need the steam to be able to circulate properly around the dumplings for them to cook through.
Don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you try making this recipe – I want to know what you think and if you made any substitutions, how did it turn out?
Still Have Questions?
Simple! Just contact me and I will do my best to help as quickly as I am able. Head over to my Contact Me page, any of my social media channels or post a comment at the bottom of this page and I’ll see what I can do.
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More Dim Sum Recipes
Siu Mai (Steamed Chinese Pork Dumpling)
- 60 g Raw Prawns (Shrimp)
- 10 g Chinese Dried Mushroom
- 360 g Minced Pork – 20% Fat
- 1.5 tsp Baking Powder
- 2 tsp Fine Salt
- 2 tsp Sugar
- 2 tbsp Cornflour (Cornstarch)
- 0.5 tsp White Pepper
- 2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
- 30 Small Round Wonton Wrappers
- Very finely mince 60g Raw Prawns and 10g Chinese Dried Mushroom. Add this to 360g Minced Pork in a small mixing bowl.
- Add 1.5 tsp Baking Powder, 2 tsp Fine Salt, 2 tsp Sugar, 2 tbsp Cornflour, 0.5 tsp White Pepper and 2 tbsp Vegetable Oil to the pork.
- Mix everything extremely thoroughly to combine. I use my hands to scrunch everything together. Leave the mix to sit in the fridge for at least 10 minutes.
- Take 30 Small Round Wonton Wrappers and lay 5 of them out on a flat surface.
- Add a tablespoon of the filling mixture to the centre of each wonton wrapper. I worked this out to be 15g of filling per wonton if you would like to be very accurate.
- Use your finger to wet the edge of the skins with a little cold water.
- Make a circle with your thumb and forefinger on your left hand (assuming you are right handed, otherwise use your right hand).
- Balance the dumpling skin and filling over the hole in your hand then ease the whole thing downwards through the hole. This will wrap the dough around the filling leaving the top exposed.
- Firmly but gently press the wrapper together until it keeps its shape.
- Repeat with the other 4 dumplings on the board. Continue working in batches until all the filling and skins are used.
- To cook the dumplings, place them in a steamer basket and cook for 8 minutes over boiling hot water. To cook from frozen, allow 12 minutes.