Each winter around Chinese New Year, our neighbor Grace, who is from Taiwan, holds a large potluck party. The food is always great, ranging from Grace’s potluck standby, a slow-simmered braised beef dish, to Beijing-style pot stickers and red-cooked baby eggplant.
Not surprisingly, a lot of the conversation is about food—who contributed what, other versions of the same dish, and so forth. Last year we fell into conversation with two guests from China. When we asked them about their favorite foods, one of them began describing sweet rice and pork dumplings, a version of the Cantonese dim sum classic siu mai from his hometown up the Yangtze River from Shanghai. In traditional siu mai, seasoned ground pork is the main ingredient, wrapped in wonton skins or dumpling wrappers and steamed, then eaten with a dipping sauce. Here the main ingredient is not meat but sticky rice. The pork and a few black mushrooms are used as flavorings. The rice gives the dumplings body and a more tender bite than siu mai, as well as a more subtle flavor.
Wash the rice under cold running water until the water runs clear, then soak in warm water for 30 minutes.
Drain the rice thoroughly, then place in a heavy medium pot with
Heat the oil in a wok over high heat. Toss in the pork, mushrooms, and shrimp and stir-fry until the color of the pork changes, breaking up the pork with a spatula so there are no lumps or clumps. Add the soy sauce, wine, sugar, salt, and pepper and stir-fry briefly. Stir in the cooked rice and the scallions and mix well. Remove from the heat and divide between two medium bowls.
If using wonton skins, trim to a circular shape. Place a small bowl of water (for moistening your fingers as you shape the dumplings) and a large lightly oiled plate by your work surface. Lightly oil one or two 10-inch or larger steamers.
To shape the dumplings, place
When you have made 15 to 20 dumplings, transfer them to a steamer. In a large wok or pot, bring water for steaming to a boil. Place the steamer over boiling water (the water should be no higher than
Continue to shape the remaining dumplings while the first batch cooks, then cook the remaining dumplings.
Mix together the dipping sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
Serve the dumplings hot or at room temperature, either from the steamers or on plates. Accompany with the dipping sauce, served in one or two small bowls.
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