Pleating the siu mai wrappers doesn’t require tedious crimping; just gather up the sides, and they’ll naturally fold and pleat on their own. This recipe is an adaptation of one in The Key to Chinese Cooking by Irene Kuo (Alfred A. Knopf, 1977).
- 6 whole leaves plus 1 packed cup finely chopped napa cabbage
- 24 frozen peas, thawed
- 1 tsp. plus 1 tbsp. cornstarch
- 3⁄4 tsp. salt
- 3⁄4 lb. ground pork
- 2 Tbsp. shaoxing jiu (Chinese rice wine)
- 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 1⁄2 tbsp. sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp. finely chopped ginger
- 1⁄4 tsp. sugar
- 5 medium shelled deveined shrimp (about 2 oz.), finely chopped
- 4 canned drained water chestnuts, finely chopped
- 1 scallion, finely chopped
- Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
- 24 round thin 3 1⁄2″ Hong Kong-style dumpling wrappers
- Line 3 stacking 10″ bamboo steamers with napa cabbage leaves; set aside. Toss peas with 1 tsp. cornstarch; set aside. Combine chopped cabbage and 1⁄2 tsp. salt in a bowl; set aside to let rest for 5 minutes. Squeeze cabbage dry; transfer to a large bowl. Stir together remaining cornstarch with 3 tbsp. water; add to cabbage with remaining salt, pork, rice wine, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, sugar, shrimp, water chestnuts, scallions, and pepper. Stir filling mixture until it reaches a pastelike consistency.
- Lay 1 wrapper across the flattened palm of one hand. Put 1 tbsp. filling in center of wrapper. Close fingers around wrapper, gathering up edges, to form a “basket” with loosely pleated sides. Gently squeeze sides, pressing in the pleats to seal them. Gently drop dumpling on a flat surface to flatten the bottom. Work fingers gently around the edges to even out its shape. Use a knife to pat down any filling that protrudes above top of wrapper. Top with 1 pea and put in one of the steamers. Repeat to make 24 dumplings.
- Stack steamers, cover with lid, and put into a wok. Pour water into wok until just high enough to show around edges of the bottom steamer but not high enough to touch the dumplings inside. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Steam dumplings, replenishing water if necessary, until cooked through, 15–20 minutes. Serve with soy sauce, if you like.