Crafting Siu Mai (Shumai) – Chinese Steamed Dumplings Masterclass

In Huhhot, Shaomai is commonly served as a staple food, especially for breakfast.

Hailing from the vibrant city of Hohhot, China, Siu Mai, also known as Shumai, are irresistible steamed dumplings that are a delight to the palate. Each dumpling boasts a filling of shiitake mushrooms, ground pork, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, shrimp, and green onions, all cocooned within delicate wonton wrappers. Once steamed, these dumplings exude a moist texture, the fillings blend harmoniously to impart authentic Chinese flavors in each bite.

Embracing the heart of Chinese culinary tradition, the crafting of Siu Mai requires careful assembly and technique. From dicing the ingredients to a uniform size, ensuring the filling is well seasoned, to the art of folding the wonton wrappers around the flavorful mixture, each step demands attention. Despite the precision required, making these dumplings can be a gratifying experience, the process offering a glimpse into the rich food culture of China.

As an appetizer, Siu Mai sets the stage for a meal, its exquisite blend of flavors rousing the appetite. If served as a snack, these dumplings prove to be a delightful indulgence. With a side of soy sauce for dipping, the savory taste of the dumplings is elevated, making each Siu Mai an enchanting culinary journey to the streets of Hohhot.

Embarking on a Global Journey: Varieties of Siu Mai (Shumai)

Much like a linguistic dialect changes with geography, so does the culinary expression of the humble dumpling. From the stuffed and sealed Italian Ravioli, and the deliciously deep-fried Polish Piroshky, to the corn dough-encased Puerto Rican Guanimes, every culture has its unique interpretation of a dumpling.

Venturing to Hohhot, the regional shaomai takes center stage. Moving south to the bustling hub of Cantonese cuisine, the siumaai variety is a local favorite. In Changsha, the capital of Hunan province, chrysanthemum shaomai is the version of choice, while the Jiangnan region prides itself on its unique Shaomai. Further northwest, the Uyghur people of Xinjiang contribute their regional varieties to the mix. Lastly, the southeastern region of Jiangxi province holds a special place for Yifeng shaomai.

In this worldwide journey of Siu Mai, we not only encounter the diversity of ingredients and cooking techniques but also appreciate the shared love for these bite-sized delights. Every regional variant is a testament to the enduring appeal of dumplings and an embodiment of the local culture and gastronomic preferences. Each Siu Mai offers a taste of the place it comes from, a flavorful window into the world’s culinary landscape.

Preserving the Delicacy: Best Practices for Storing Siu Mai (Shumai)

Storing uncooked Siu Mai requires delicate handling to maintain their texture and shape. Refrigeration is not an ideal option, as the moisture could seep into the dumpling skins, leading to a soggy texture and causing the dumplings to stick to each other or to the storage container. Therefore, to keep your uncooked dumplings fresh, it’s best to cook them immediately after preparation.

On the other hand, if you find yourself with leftover cooked Siu Mai, they can be safely stored in the refrigerator. Place the cooked dumplings in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days. It’s crucial to ensure their consumption within this time frame to avoid any potential spoilage.

For longer storage, freezing cooked Siu Mai is a reliable option. To do this, lay the dumplings out on a tray and place it in the freezer, allowing them to freeze individually. Once fully frozen, usually after about half an hour, transfer the dumplings to a zipper-lock freezer bag. Make sure to squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing the bag, then store the dumplings for up to two months. This method prevents the dumplings from sticking together and ensures they retain their shape and flavor when reheated.

Tracing the Roots: Origin and Evolution of Siu Mai (Shumai)

While most associate Siu Mai with the Cantonese culinary tradition, historical records trace the origin of this delicacy to Hohhot, the capital of China’s Inner Mongolia autonomous region. The dish, known as suumai in the local dialect, translates to “without being cooled down” in Mongolian. The uniqueness of Siu Mai lies not only in its delightful taste but also in its intriguing history.

In its journey from Hohhot to the rest of China, Siu Mai underwent transformations in its recipe, adapting to local tastes and available ingredients. Despite these changes, the fundamental essence of the dish remained intact – a delicious filling encased in a thin wrapper, the top left open to reveal the enticing filling within.

Over time, Siu Mai became a staple in dim sum cuisine, gaining popularity far beyond the boundaries of China. Today, whether served in high-end restaurants or bustling street food stalls, this steamed dumpling stands as a testament to the enduring culinary heritage of Hohhot and the broader Chinese cuisine.

Gateway to Inner Mongolia: Exploring the Metropolitan City of Hohhot, China

Hohhot, once known as Kweisui, currently serves as the capital of Inner Mongolia in northern China. It has established itself as the region’s administrative, economic, and cultural center, effortlessly embodying the essence of Inner Mongolia. With a population reaching towards 1.6 million, Hohhot presents a dynamic blend of traditional heritage and modern vibrancy.

Though Hohhot only became the capital of Inner Mongolia in 1947, it rapidly evolved into the region’s industrial and economic powerhouse. This growth, however, did not overshadow the city’s cultural roots. Despite the indigenous Mongols constituting only around 11% of the city’s population, Mongolian Buddhism continues to flourish here, and the city actively preserves its Mongolian culture.

The city’s cultural richness, combined with its modern amenities, make Hohhot a captivating destination. From historical sites echoing past eras to bustling markets showcasing local crafts and cuisine, Hohhot offers a unique experience for every visitor. The city stands as a proud testament to the resilience and adaptability of the Mongolian people.

Through Time and Tradition: A Glimpse into the History of Hohhot, China

Hohhot’s historical narrative is deeply intertwined with its geographic position on the edge of the Han Chinese settlements. The city’s initial development as Kuku-khoto was marked by its emergence as a significant religious center for Tibetan Buddhism, known as Lamaism, during the 16th century. Its strategic position as a frontier trading center contributed to its growing prominence.

By the mid-17th century, towards the end of the Ming period, Han Chinese began to settle in the fertile plains surrounding the city. The new settlers named the city Guihua, translating to “Return to Civilization,” signifying the transformative process the city was undergoing. Subsequently, in the mid-18th century, a new city, Suiyuan, sprouted a few miles north of Guihua. Eventually, the two cities merged under the name Guisui, with the combined city flourishing as a vibrant frontier market with a considerable Muslim trading community.

The pivotal point in Hohhot’s history was in 1928 when it became the provincial capital following the establishment of Suiyuan sheng. As part of the larger policy to integrate Inner Mongolia with Chinese civil administration, this move marked the beginning of a new chapter in Hohhot’s narrative. By 1954, the city had been renamed Hohhot, which in Mongolian translates to “Green City,” symbolizing its vibrant, evolving identity.

Unveiling the Charm: The Joys of Tourism in Hohhot, China

While Hohhot might lack an abundance of historical and tourist sites, the city’s charm lies in its unique blend of tradition and modernity. The city is at its most resplendent in Spring and early Summer when the lush greenery accentuates its natural beauty. It provides a captivating destination for anyone looking to explore the less traveled paths.

In Hohhot, the interplay of past and present is evident at every turn. You can wander through bustling markets selling traditional crafts, taste local cuisines in vibrant food stalls, or delve into history in one of the city’s museums. Whether you’re exploring ancient Buddhist temples or strolling along modern boulevards, Hohhot offers a glimpse into the rich tapestry of Inner Mongolian culture.

The city’s unique position as the gateway to Inner Mongolia offers further possibilities for exploration. From the grasslands that stretch out in all directions to the intriguing culture of the Mongolian people, Hohhot presents an unforgettable journey for those seeking to experience the magic of Inner Mongolia.

A Culinary Journey: Discovering the Delights of Hohhot Cuisine

Hohhot’s culinary scene is characterized by its focus on Mongol cuisine and dairy products. The city is recognized for its significant contributions to China’s dairy industry, housing renowned dairy giants Yili and Mengniu. One signature drink that captures Hohhot’s love for dairy is suutei tsai, a traditional Mongolian milk tea that has become a popular breakfast choice for locals and visitors alike.

Food in Hohhot isn’t just about sustenance; it’s a cultural experience. The city showcases its rich culinary traditions through popular dishes like hot pot and Siu Mai, a type of traditional Chinese dumpling that’s part of dim sum. The blend of local flavors with a variety of cooking techniques has resulted in a cuisine that is as diverse as it is delicious.

Due to Hohhot’s sizeable Hui Muslim population, many restaurants cater to halal dietary requirements, evident by the green or yellow signs outside these establishments. While pork is not served, it opens the door for an assortment of delectable mutton dishes to be savored. The unique food culture of Hohhot invites visitors to embark on a gastronomic adventure, one that promises to delight and surprise with every bite.

Shang Palace
Xincheng District, Hohhot, Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, China, 010090

Shang Palace Chinese Restaurant
Shang Palace Chinese Restaurant

Shang Palace Chinese Restaurant is located on the second floor of Shangri-La Hotel, Shenzhen, with a superior location and an elegant and chic restaurant environment. The chef team led by Stan Zhou uses authentic local dishes to deduce Cantonese cuisine respecting the original method and adapting to the tastes. They are constantly looking for inspiration in life, according to natural regulations and habits, and maximize the advantages of fresh ingredients.

Cantonese cuisine inherits the custom of intensive cultivation and pays attention to the excellence of cooking in Cantone. The range of Cantonese cuisine includes the Pearl River Delta, Shaoguan, Zhanjiang, and other places. It has the characteristics of refreshing, fresh, tender, and slippery with The “five nourishments” and “six flavors”.

The hand-made Cantonese Dim Sum, which has been in the hands of Chef Zeng for more than 20 years, is also well-known far and wide, attracting the surrounding diners to check in on Shang Palace’s gourmet secrets.

Savoring the Authenticity: Crafting Your Own Siu Mai (Shumai) Recipe

Making Siu Mai at home might seem a daunting task due to the exotic ingredients involved. However, the process becomes more straightforward once you’ve gathered all the necessary items. The ingredient that might prove challenging to procure is Flying Fish Caviar, but its distinctive flavor and texture make the effort worthwhile.

To begin with, gather your equipment and lay out your ingredients. This preparation ensures a smooth cooking process, as the recipe moves rather swiftly. The key to successfully crafting Siu Mai lies in paying attention to details – from the consistency of the filling to the way you fold the wonton wrappers.

By embarking on this culinary journey, not only do you get to enjoy a delicious serving of Siu Mai at the end, but you also gain an appreciation for the skill and artistry that goes into making this iconic dish. Whether you’re a seasoned cook or a novice in the kitchen, making your own Siu Mai offers a rewarding and flavorful experience.

Essential Ingredients and Tools for Crafting Chinese Steamed Dumplings

Creating Chinese Steamed Dumplings at home can be a rewarding culinary experience, but it requires having the right ingredients and tools on hand. From the delicate dumpling wrappers that encase the flavorful filling, to the essential steaming equipment, your kitchen should be well-prepared to start this enticing cooking journey. By gathering everything you need beforehand, you will ensure a seamless cooking process, transforming your kitchen into a personal dumpling workshop. Enjoy the process as much as the result – delicious, homemade Chinese steamed dumplings that you can savor with family and friends.

For the Equipment

  • 1 mixing bowl
  • 1 bamboo steamer

For the Dumplings

  • 3 shiitake mushrooms
  • 13 oz ground pork
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 2½ tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1½ tbsp Chinese cooking “Shaoxing” wine
  • 5 oz shrimp
  • 2 tbsp green onions
  • 24 wonton wrappers

For the Garnish

  • 1½ oz flying fish roe Caviar

Time needed: 38 minutes

How to Cook Siu Mai(Shumai) Dumplings

  1. For the Filling:

    Place pork, salt, soy sauce, rice wine, and sugar with the pork meat/mince in a large mixing bowl. Mix vigorously with a spoon or use your hands until it becomes pasty (initially it will be crumbly) – about 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms, prawns, and green onions, and mix thoroughly (don’t crush the prawn meat).

  2. Making Siu Mai

    Form an “O” with your forefinger and thumb. Place a wonton wrapper over the “O”. Push in 1 heaped teaspoon of Filling and push down into the “O” hole. Use a butter knife to smear more Filling into it until level with the edge of the wonton. Place on a work surface and push down to flatten the base and use fingers to shape it into a round.

  3. Steam the Dumplings:

    Line a 12″ bamboo steamer (or stove steamer) with baking paper with holes in it. Fill a wok just below the steamer with water. Bring to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat. Place Siu Mai in a steamer (20 – 25 fits). Place lid on and steam for 8 minutes, or until the internal temperature of dumplings is 165°F. (The bigger the wanton the longer it will take). Remove the steamer from the wok and the dumplings from the steamer. Place a tiny bit of roe in the middle of each dumpling. Serve immediately with dipping sauce!

  4. Siu Mai Dipping Sauce:

    Use 3 parts soy sauce, 1 part Chinese black vinegar or normal white vinegar, and 1 part Chinese chili paste (or Sriracha or another chili). Let people mix their own to their taste.

If you liked this dish please Rate This Recipe and leave a comment.

Siu Mai (Shumai) – Chinese steamed dumplings

Recipe Author | Captain Cook
Delve into the vibrant flavors of Chinese cuisine with our authentic Siu Mai (Shumai) dumplings. Expertly crafted, these steamed treasures brim with a succulent blend of pork and shrimp, promising an unforgettable bite. Serving as an indulgent main meal for 2 to 3 people or a delightful component of a larger banquet, these dumplings are poised to transport your taste buds straight to the heart of China's rich culinary heritage.

Please Rate this Recipe

Be the First to Rate This Recipe
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 38 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 24 dumplings
Calories 156 kcal



Siu Mai Dipping Sauce:



  • Place pork, salt, soy sauce, rice wine, sugar with the pork meat in a large mixing bowl. Mix vigorously with a spoon or use your hands until it becomes pasty (initially it will be crumbly) – about 30 seconds.
    13 oz ground pork, 2½ tsp white sugar, 1 tsp soy sauce, 1½ tbsp Chinese cooking wine, ¾ tsp salt
  • Add mushrooms, shrimp, and green onions, mix until just dispersed (don't crush the prawn meat).
    3 shiitake mushrooms, 5 oz shrimp, 2 tbsp green onion

Making Siu Mai (Process Steps and Video Helpful!):

  • Form an "O" with your forefinger and thumb. Place a wonton wrapper over the "O". Push in 1 heaped teaspoon of Filling and push down into the "O" hole.
    24 wonton wrappers
  • Use a butter knife to smear more Filling into until level with the edge of the wonton.
  • Place on a work surface and push down to flatten base and use fingers to shape into a round.

Steaming Dumplings:

  • Line a 12" bamboo steamer (or stove steamer) with parchment paper with holes in it.
  • Fill a wok big enough to hold steamer with about 2 cups of water. Bring to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat.
  • Place Siu Mai in a steamer (20 – 25 fits). Place lid on, place in the wok over simmering water.
  • Steam for 8 minutes, or until the internal temperature of dumplings is 165°F. (If yours are bigger, the longer it will take).
  • Remove steamer from wok. Remove lid and remove the dumplings and place a tiny bit of roe in the middle of each dumpling.
    1½ oz flying fish roe
  • Serve immediately with dipping sauce!

Siu Mai Dipping Sauce:

  • Provide soy sauce, Chinese black vinegar or normal white vinegar, Chinese chilli paste (or Sriracha or another chilli). Let people mix their own to their taste (I do: 3 parts soy, 1 part vinegar, as much chilli as I think I can handle).
    3 parts soy sauce, 1 part Chinese black vinegar, 1 part Chinese chili paste


Serving: 1dumplingCalories: 156kcalCarbohydrates: 22.6gProtein: 10.3gFat: 1.3gSaturated Fat: 0.6gCholesterol: 65mgSodium: 455mgPotassium: 125mgFiber: 0.8gSugar: 2.1gCalcium: 40mgIron: 2mg
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Complementing Dishes to Pair with Siu Mai (Shumai) – Chinese Steamed Dumplings

As you venture into the intricate world of Chinese cuisine with our Siu Mai (Shumai) recipe, it’s worth considering other authentic dishes that beautifully complement these delectable dumplings. These suggestions aren’t just side notes to the main melody; they’re harmonizing counterparts that weave together a symphony of flavors, enriching your dining experience.

Egg Foo Young
This Egg Foo Young recipe is a symphony of flavors that promises a culinary spectacle right on your plate. This cherished Chinese dish, a sumptuously filled omelet brimming with tender shrimp and vibrant vegetables, is a versatile delight that can elevate your breakfast, lunch, or dinner experience. Every bite you take, every flavor you savor, turns any ordinary day into a gastronomic festival.
Check out this recipe
Egg Foo Young (芙蓉蛋) the Chinese Stuffed Omelette

As we wrap up our gastronomic journey, it’s evident that the realm of Chinese cuisine is rich, diverse, and rewarding. Whether you savored the Siu Mai (Shumai) alongside other Chinese delicacies or chose to revel in their delicate flavors solo, we hope your culinary adventure was as exciting to embark upon as it was delicious. Remember, the beauty of food lies not only in taste but also in the exploration of culture and tradition it permits us. Until our next recipe exploration, happy cooking and bon appétit!

Photo Credits:

  • By Taste The World Cookbook – Copyright 2022 All rights reserved.
  • By Shang Palace Chinese Restaurant – By
  • By Satbir Singh from London – DSCF2351, CC BY 2.0,
  • By Fanghong – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
  • By Popolon – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
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Captain Cook
Captain Cook
If you strip away the labels and isms and meta tags, what are you left with? Are you strong and free enough as an individual to survive the loss of all those crutches and maintain reason and meaning? Can you use the power of thought and choice to walk the road of life?
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