The second recipe from Pat of The Asian Grandmothers' Cookbook was siu mai. It's a dim sum staple and I was excited to try it. A little daunted, but excited.
The project began with shelling/deveining shrimp and soaking the shittake mushrooms. I'm so slow at shelling shrimp. Water chestnuts added a nice crunch to the siu mai. I was walking through the produce section at 99 Ranch and saw a huge bin of fresh water chestnuts.
Once peeled, they have the texture of jicama. Crunchy, like an apple, but without the moisture. The chestnuts were minced, along with scallions and the shittake mushrooms. As for the mushrooms, I must say that shittakes should not be skimped on. Buy good-quality mushrooms (usually sold dried). I bought one of the cheapest packages because I don't usually cook with them, but I should have splurged for better. However, it didn't seem to impact the outcome seriously, so no harm, no foul.
The ingredients added into the mixing bowl. The shrimp, once shelled/deveined, are minced.
The mixture is mixed with cornstarch, sherry, sugar, salt, sesame oil, soy sauce, and white pepper. The photo's a bit blurry.
I was also a little surprised to find siu mai wrappers at 99 Ranch. I'm glad I did. They were square, but trimming off the corners allowed the formation of even, open-topped cylinders.
First, the wrapper is wet down by running a finger dipped in water along the edge. Then, use the thumb and pointer fingers to form an "O" (like you're about to tell someone it's A-OK). Place the wrapper on top of the "O", place a tablespoon of filling on top, and push it through the "O" to form a cylinder. Press the wrapper into place gently, but firmly, to form a basket shape. Afterwards, crimp the top edge into pleats. Here's a video.
After they were wrapped, I steamed them using pie tins and a steam rack in a stockpot.
I was inspired by a Good Eats episode on steaming. If I wanted to do them all at once, I could stack the pie tins with biscuit cutters in between. Here's the end result:
I goofed and accidentally omitted the last step, which was to brush the tops with oil. This would have kept the tops more moist and given the meat a bit of a sheen. Still looked pretty good. I thought they tasted fantastic. Again, as with the Thai Basil Pork, I probably would have seasoned the pork a little bit (salt, black pepper, sesame oil... let sit for 20 minutes) before starting. It might be the ground pork shoulder I bought, but it needed something to bring out its flavor.
Thanks, Pat! I had a great time with both recipes.