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Shanghai-style Shao Mai {Shumai}

Traditional Steamed Sticky Rice Dumplings

by Shirley
shanghai-style vegan Shao Mai {烧麦 Shumai}

Shao Mai {烧麦}, also known as Shumai or Siu Mai, are traditional Chinese steamed dumplings. Shanghai-style vegan Shao Mai, shaped like a mini pomegranate and featuring stir-fried sweet rice is so naturally delicious and healthy. Shiitake mushrooms, peas, corns, and carrots add contrasting flavor, texture, and nutrition.

shanghai-style vegan Shao Mai {烧麦 Shumai}

Steamed Sweet Rice dumplings boast a beautiful color pallet of brown, black, golden, green, and orange.

Truly nutritious and versatile, you can enjoy them as breakfast, snacks, or side dishes. You can also enjoy the stir-fried sweet rice itself.

Stir Fried sweet rice with shiitake, corns, peas and carrots for Shao Mai filling
Stir-Fried sweet rice with shiitake, corns, peas, and carrots for Shao Mai filling

Shao Mai {烧麦} Story

Legend says Shao Mai was originally from the Beijing area around the late Ming Dynasty era, which lasted from 1368 to 1644 A.D. Most stories pointed to two brothers who ran a Bao Zi {steamed buns} Shop together. When the older brother got married, he took over the business but allowed the younger brother to stick around and help out.

Additionally, as long as the younger brother finished all the chores for the day, he could have a small side-business of his own to make some extra money. The younger brother thus started to make mini Bao Zi at the end of the day. Since he wouldn’t have much time to wait for the dough to proof, he would just use the unleavened dough to make dumpling wrappers.

Shanghai-style vegan Shao Mai {Shumai}.

It is tricky to use dumpling wrappers to make mini Bao Zi. The wrapper is smaller and is not as flexible and stretchy as that of a leavened dough wrapper. Nevertheless, the younger brother figured out a way to make it work. He would pinch the wrapper in a circular motion to tighten the dumpling wrapping, but leave it open on the top.

Freshly wrapped Shao Mai

These delicious minis turned out to be a huge success. The younger brother called them “Shao Mai {捎卖}, which literally translates as “sell on the side”. Over time, people changed the Chinese characters to 烧 {cook} 麦 {wheat}, or 烧 {cook} 卖 {sell}. The pronunciation, however, remains Shao Mai.

It is worth mentioning that Shanghai Soup Dumplings also use the unleavened dough, and are wrapped in a mini bun shape.

Freshly Wrapped Shanghai Soup Dumplings
Freshly Wrapped Shanghai Soup Dumplings

Shumai {Shao Mai} Fun Facts

Although the origin of the Shao Mai was supposed to be the Beijing area, Shao Mai became more common in Shanghai and Guang Dong area. Shanghai-style and Cantonese-style are among the two dominant versions with distinctively different features.

About Shanghai-style Shao Mai {Steamed Sticky Rice Dumplings}

Shanghai-style often uses round plain flour dumpling wrappers. Read here on how to make dumpling wrappers at home.

Regarding the filling, stir-fried sweet rice with dried shiitake mushroom {Xiang Gu}, or scented mushroom are the two primary filling ingredients. Braised pork belly is often added into the filling. If you prefer a pork version, you can use this Lu Rou Sauce recipe to cook the minced pork belly and then stir fry with the cooked sweet rice, or Nuo Mi {糯米} in Chinese.

We pinch the Shanghai-style Shao Mai so that it looks like a mini pomegranate or mini pear with an opening on the top.

how to wrap Shanghai-style Shao Mai?
How to Wrap Shanghai-style Shao Mai?

About Cantonese-style Shao Mai {Siu Mai}

Cantonese style is a popular dim sum item. It often uses square egg wonton wrappers, similar to the ones I use for Huai Yang Style Wonton Soup, but thinner. Because of the egg content in the wrappers, Cantonese-style Shu Mai has a golden yellow hue. Read here on how to make egg wonton wrappers at home.

In terms of filling, pork with shrimp is the most popular one. Usually, Cantonese-style Siu Mai is garnished with some sort of bright orange color. For instance, fish roe is a popular garnishing item. For the wrapping, Cantonese-style Shao Mai looks more like a mini cylinder.

How to make Shanghai-style Shao Mai Wrappers?

Shanghai-style Shao Mai uses thinner Jiao Zi {dumplings} wrappers. Read here for a guided recipe on how to make dumpling wrappers at home.

homemade dumpling wrappers for Jiao Zi, Guotie, Xiao Long Bao
homemade dumpling wrappers for Jiao Zi, Guotie, Xiao Long Bao, Shao Mai

How to Make Shanghai-style Shao Mai Filling?

Shanghai-style Shao Mai Filling Ingredients
Shanghai-style Shao Mai Filling Ingredients

Tip No.1 is to prep sweet rice {sticky rice} properly

Soak the sweet rice overnight and then steam in a bamboo steamer layered with an organic cheesecloth for 25 minutes.

overnight soaked sweet rice in a bamboo steamer
overnight soaked sweet rice in a bamboo steamer

Tip No.2 is to prep shiitake and other vegetables properly

Soak dried shiitake mushroom overnight, and then cut into small pieces. Peel carrots and then cut them into small pieces too.

chopped shiitake, carrots and green onion

While shiitake mushroom doesn’t require blanching first, you will need to blanch carrots, peas, and corns beforehand.

blanching peas, corns and chopped carrots

Tip No.3 is to make a delicious stir fried sweet rice, a.k.a. the filling for Steamed Sticky Rice Dumplings

Turn the heat to medium-high and heat the pan for 1 minute. Then add avocado oil (or cooking oil of your choice), chopped shiitake, and green onion along with blanched peas, corns, and carrots.

Stir Fry shiitake, corns, peas and carrots in the pan

Stir fry for about 1 minute and then add the cooked sweet rice. Use a bamboo spatula to break down the sticky rice as much as you can. Pour the stir fry sauce in a circular motion into the pan and stir fry for another 3 minutes or so.

The delicious stir fry sauce contains naturally aged soy sauce, light soy sauce, spice powder of coriander seeds, white pepper, star anise, salt, and sugar.

Stir Fried sweet rice with shiitake, corns, peas and carrots for Shao Mai filling
Stir-Fried sweet rice with shiitake, corns, peas, and carrots for Shao Mai filling

How to Wrap Shanghai-style Steamed Sticky Rice Dumplings?

  • First is to place a tablespoonful of stir fried sweet rice filling in the middle of the wrapper.
  • Second is to pinch the wrapper with multiple corners using fingers, at least 5 of them, the more the better.
  • Third is to rotate while pinching the opening area together using the curved area between your dominant thumb and index finger.
  • Last is to continuously roate and pinch another round to compact the filling inside the wrapper.
How to fold Shanghai-style Shao Mai
How to fold Shanghai-style Shao Mai?

How to steam Shanghai-style Sweet Rice Dumplings?

My favorite steamer set for buns and dumplings is using a combination of a regular wok (14-inch) and a set of two 12-inch bamboo steamers. The bamboo steamers will sit nicely on top of the wok leaving enough space for adding steaming water in the wok.

14-inch Wok and 12-inch bamboo steamer steaming set

Add 6 cups of water into the Wok and bring it to a boil. Then mount the steamer set onto the Wok and steam for 10 minutes.

shanghai-style vegan Shao Mai {烧麦 Shumai}

Shanghai-Style Shao Mai {烧麦} Recipe

Yield: 3 dozens of Shanghai-style Shao Mai
Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes

Shao Mai {烧麦}, also known as Shumai or Siu Mai, are traditional Chinese steamed dumplings. Shanghai-style Shao Mai, shaped like a mini pomegranate and featuring stir-fried sweet rice is so naturally delicious and healthy.

Ingredients

For the Wrappers:

  • 250 g all-purpose flour, organic preferred, about 1.5 cups, additional 2 tbsp for dusting and coating the dough
  • 12 g avocado oil
  • 115 g water, room temperature, see notes
  • 1/16 tsp salt, Himalayan pink salt, or sea salt

For the Filling:

  • 250 g sweet rice, soak overnight
  • 18 g dried shiitake, soak overnight
  • 50 g frozen corns, organic preferred
  • 70 g frozen peas, organic preferred
  • 60 g carrots, peeled
  • 2 stems of green onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil

For Sweet Rice Stir Fry Sauce:

  • 1 tbsp naturally aged soy sauce or dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp coriander seeds powder, freshly ground
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper, freshly ground
  • 1/8 tsp star anise powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt, Himalayan pink salt, or sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp cane sugar, organic unrefined preferred

Instructions

Prep Work Overnight:

  • Soak sweet rice and dried shiitake mushroom overnight.

Steam Sweet Rice:

  • Rinse the sweet rice a few times using a stainless steel colander and gather ingredients.
    Shanghai-style Shao Mai Filling Ingredients
  • Add 6 cups of water into the wok, turn the heat to medium-high, cover the wok with a lid and bring it to a boil, about 10 minutes.
  • While waiting, layer the 12-inch bamboo steamer with double-layered organic cheesecloth and add the rinsed sweet rice. Spread out in a thin layer. Fold the extra cheesecloth over to partially cover the sweet rice.
    overnight soaked sweet rice in a bamboo steamer
  • When the water reaches a boil, mount the steamer on top of the wok and cover it with the bamboo lid, and cook for 25 minutes.
  • Remove the bamboo steamer from the wok. Let it cool down a little bit before removing the cooked sweet rice into a large glass mixing bowl. Fold and toss the sweet rice to let the steam off and separate the rice and set aside. See notes.

Prepare Vegetables:

  • Fill a 4-Qt stockpot with water, about 75% full, turn the heat to medium-high, and bring it to a boil.
  • While waiting, prepare shiitake, carrots, and green onion.
    chopped shiitake, carrots and green onion
  • Gently wash and rinse shiitake mushrooms. Gently squeeze the extra water out and cut them into small pieces. Peel carrots and then cut them into small pieces, similar size to that shiitake mushrooms. The smaller the better. Chop green onion into small pieces.
  • Once the stockpot reaches a boil, add carrots first, and then frozen peas and corns. Fold them into the boiling water and wait for it to reach a boil again, about 2 minutes.
  • Turn the heat to simmer and simmer for 1.5 minutes.
    blanching peas, corns and chopped carrots
  • Once done, turn off the heat and remove the carrots, peas, and corns from the stockpot using a stainless steel skimmer and place them onto a plate.
    vegetable assortment for Shanghai-style Shao Mai filling

Cook Shanghai-style Shao Mai Filling:

  • Add everything under "For Sweet Rice Stir Fry Sauce" into a small bowl, whisk to mix well.
  • Turn the heat to medium-high and heat a frypan for 1 minute.
  • Add 1 tbsp avocado oil, along with chopped green onion, blanched vegetable assortment, and shiitake mushrooms, toss and mix for about 1 minute, either using a turner or a pair of bamboo spatulas.
    Stir Fry shiitake, corns, peas and carrots in the pan
  • Add cooked sweet rice, use a bamboo spatula to break down, and separate the rice if needed. Fold the sweet rice into the vegetable assortment, toss and mix for another 1 minute.
  • Quick whisk the Stir Fry sauce again and then pour into the pan in a circular motion. Scrape the bowl clean using a mini silicone spatula if needed.
  • Use a flexible turner to fold and mix for about 3 minutes.
    Stir Fry shiitake, corns, peas and carrots in the pan

Make Dumpling Wrappers:

  • If you have a stand mixer or a pasta machine, it is easy to use the machine to flatten the dough into thin dough sheets and then cut them into rounds using a cookie cutter.
    Use cookie cutter to cut dough sheet into Dumpling Wrappers
  • Read here for a detailed guided recipe on how to make dumpling wrappers at home.

Wrap Shanghai-style Shao Mai:

  • Place a tablespoonful of stir-fried sweet rice filling in the middle of the wrapper.
    How to Wrap Shao Mai step 1
  • Pinch the wrapper with multiple corners using fingers, at least 5 of them, the more the better.
    how to wrap Shao Mai step 2
  • Rotate while pinching the opening area together using the curved area between your dominant thumb and index finger.
    how to wrap Shao Mai Step 3
  • Last is to continuously rotate and pinch another round to compact the filling inside the wrapper.
    how to wrap Shao Mai step 4 last step
  • Hooray, you just successfully wrapped a Shanghai-style Shao Mai easy classic way!
    Freshly wrapped Shao Mai
  • I usually use dried bamboo leaves as the liner for steaming Shao Mai. Unbleached parchment paper also works. Remember to cut a few small holes before using it.
    cut bamboo leaves and layer them in the bamboo steamer for steaming buns and dumplings
  • As you wrap, place the freshly wrapped Shanghai-style Shao Mai on the bamboo leaves.
    Freshly wrapped Shanghai-style Shao Mai

Steam Shanghai-style Shao Mai:

  • Add 6 cups of water into the wok, cover it with a lid and bring to a boil.
  • Once it reaches boiling, turn off the heat, place the steamers onto the wok. The steamer should sit securely against the wall of the wok.
  • Cover the steamer with the bamboo lid. Turn the heat back to medium-high and steam for 10 minutes.
  • Remove the steamer from the wok and serve hot.
    shanghai-style vegan Shao Mai {烧麦 Shumai}

Notes

  • When making the dough, add the water slowly, gradually while kneading, allow the flour to absorb the four. We need to knead a smooth dough for dumpling wrappers, but not too watery. The water required to make a smooth dough is highly dependent on the humidity of the environment. The water required is for reference, you may not need the entirety of the water.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 295Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 904mgCarbohydrates: 52gFiber: 3gSugar: 2gProtein: 7g

Nutrition calculation is provided by Nutritionix to the best knowledge per ingredients description and isn't always accurate.

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