Glutinous Rice Shao Mai (糯米烧卖)

Yields: 2 Servings Difficulty: Medium Prep Time: 30 Mins Cook Time: 30 Mins Total Time: 1 Hr

Glutinous rice shao mai (烧卖) is a Shanghainese dish, a little different from the pork-heavy Cantonese siew mai. As winter is much colder in the Northern provinces, carbs in the form of grains feature a lot more in Northern Chinese cuisine.

Glutinous rice is a popular ingredient for Chinese New Year as the stickiness signifies the closeness of loved ones. It is also auspicious to have at least one steamed dish for CNY, because 蒸蒸日上. What does this mean?  Well, 蒸蒸日上 (zhēng zhēng rì shàng) means “constantly be on the up and up”. So, our combination of glutinous rice shao mai and steaming will make a nice dish for CNY.

Shao mai have a unique shape, different from other steamed dumplings. This is because dining inns used to serve many kinds of shao mai with different stuffing. So, with their open “mouths”, the customers could see what was inside each dumpling and decide what they wanted to eat.

If you can, I recommend that you make your own dumpling skin, so the shao mai skin will be thinner. Fresh dumpling skin is also more pliable and less likely to break. If you are making your own dumpling skin and want the typical shao mai yellow colour, you can add some turmeric to the flour!

I will be adding Chinese New Year dishes under the CNY 年菜 category so check it out!

To be honest, I am not sure how many shao mai this recipe makes exactly because I was eating the stuffing as I was wrapping… but I estimate about 24! The images in the instructions here are for a double serving.

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0/8 Ingredients
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  • Sauce Ingredients


0/14 Instructions
  • Soak the glutinous rice overnight, then steam it for 40 minutes until cooked.
  • Finely chop the carrot, mushrooms, and spring onions, separating the white and greens.
  • Heat 1 tbsp of oil and fry the carrot, mushrooms, and spring onion whites until the carrots are softer. Press the mushrooms with back of the spatula so any excess water comes out.
  • Add the sauce ingredients and bring to boil. Once it starts to boil, you can turn off the heat.
  • Put the steamed glutinous rice into a mixing bowl. Add the spring onion greens and the mushroom sauce including all the liquid.
  • Mix well. The glutinous rice will absorb all the liquid. Leave to cool.
  • Place 1 heaped tsp of stuffing in the centre of the dumpling skin.
  • Make six points from the top.
  • Turn all the points in one direction.
  • Circling the dumpling with your thumb and forefinger, squeeze it about 1/3 of the way down to create a "waist".
  • Place the dumpling on a flat surface and adjust so it looks nice.
  • If you would like to freeze the shao mai, you can do it now. I wrap all my dumplings in the afternoon and freeze them for the following days.
  • If the shao mai are frozen, start the steamer from cold water and steam on high flame for 5 minutes and medium-low flame for 20 minutes. If the shao mai are fresh, start the steamer from cold water and steam on high flame for 5 minutes and medium-low flame for 10 minutes.
  • Serve hot with chilli oil!

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