One of the great thrills of visiting Shanghai is discovering the city’s myriad street foods. They’re cheap, easy to find and different ones appear at various times of the day, making the city a veritable smorgasbord of casual-dining options. These sturdy dumplings make their appearance in the morning and are eagerly scoffed for breakfast or as a quick snack. They are slightly fiddly – but rewarding – to make so don’t worry if yours aren’t as perfectly shaped as a Shanghai vendor’s. They’ll still taste fantastic.
- 350 g white sticky (glutinous) rice, soaked overnight
- 75 g dried Chinese pork (lup yook) (see Note)
- 18 g (about 6 medium) dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- 2 tsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 2 tsp Shaoxing (Chinese rice) wine
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 1½ tbsp dried shrimp, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes
- 1½ tbsp peanut oil
- 125 g minced pork
- 45 g (⅓ cup) finely chopped canned bamboo shoots
- 2 green onions, trimmed and finely chopped
- 300 g (32) wonton wrappers
- Chinese chilli sauce and soy sauce, to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Soaking time: overnight or 8 hours
Drain the rice well, then transfer to a steamer lined with either muslin or a clean tea towel, spreading the rice evenly. Place the dried pork on top, cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook over boiling water for 20 minutes or until rice is tender and the pork has softened. Remove the pork and cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, finely chop.
Drain the mushrooms, trim the stems then very finely chop. Combine the soy sauces, oyster sauce, sesame oil, Shaoxing wine and sugar in a small bowl and stir to dissolve the sugar. Drain the dried shrimp and finely chop.
Heat the oil in a wok over medium-high, add the minced pork and cook, stirring to break the pork up, for 2 minutes or until the pork changes colour. Add the cooked rice, steamed chopped pork, soy sauce mixture, mushrooms, shrimps, bamboo shoots and green onions and cook, using a large metal spoon to break the rice up, for about 4 minutes or until heated through and the liquid has been absorbed. Remove the mixture to a bowl and cool to room temperature.
To make the dumplings, place 6 dumpling wrappers on a clean work surface. For each wrapper, take 1 tbsp of the filling and use your hands to squeeze it onto a rough ball, then place in the centre of each wrapper. Using wet fingers and, working with one wrapper at a time, gather each wrapper up and around the filling, leaving the top open, pleating the wrapper neatly to form a pouch as you go; the rice filling should still show. Holding each dumpling tightly in your hand, squeeze each around the middle firmly to from a slight “waist”, pressing down on the filling from the top to compact it slightly and prevent any of it spilling out. Repeat the process with the remaining filling and wrappers. Line a large bamboo steamer basket with perforated baking paper, then set the steam basket inside a large saucepan or wok that is half-filled with boiling water. Add the dumplings to the basket, in batches, cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and steam for 8 minutes or until the wrappers are cooked and the filling is heated through. Serve dumplings immediately, with chilli sauce and soy sauce for dipping.
• You can buy the dried Chinese pork from Asian supermarkets; it is vacuum-packed and you’ll find it on shelves, most likely near the Chinese sausage (lup cheong) and other preserved meats. Wing Hong is the most commonly available brand. If you can’t find it, you can just leave it out – or use finely chopped Chinese sausage in the filling instead.
Photography, styling and food preparation by china squirrel.
When she doesn’t have her head in the pantry cupboard, Leanne Kitchen finds time to photograph food and write cookbooks. You can view her work on her website.