Monday, July 30, 2007

Sometimes You Gotta Make Due

Ever tasted a Chinese sausage? I didn’t like it the first time I tried it. It was sweet, hard and an alarming shade of red-brown. It made Spam look healthy and natural. Now I appreciate the Chinese variety (even though they are about as healthy as Spam...everything in moderation, right?) and use them in different dishes, such as fried rice and hot pot. Here I’ve used Chinese sausage in shu mai with a twist. These dumplings can have a variety of fillings and I've yet to taste one I didn't like.

Shu mai with Chinese sausage filling
  • 1 lbs ground pork
  • 1 link Chinese sausage, finely chopped
  • 3 scallions finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp cornstarch
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup peas (optional)
  • 1 pack shu mai wrappers (thinner than goyoza wrappers)
Combine the filling for the dumplings. Use about 2 tsp of filling for each wrapper (keep unused wrappers under a damp cloth to prevent drying out). Shu mai, unlike potstickers, are not sealed shut. The filling is exposed at the top. It may take a little practice to get the wrapper to form pleats around the filling and to keep in place. You may find it helpful to use a lightly moist finger to shape the wrapper. Keep finished dumplings under a light damp cloth to keep the wrapper from drying up. To cook the dumplings, steam them in a bamboo steamer lined with lettuce or cabbage leaves for 10 to 12 minutes (or until done). They are ready to enjoy with your favorite dipping sauce. If you’ve made more dumplings than you plan to eat, freeze them (before they are cooked) on a cookie sheet then transfer to a plastic bag.

Here’s the twist. I went to my Asian grocer and they were out of shu mai wrappers! Instead of driving out to the burbs to find wrappers, I decided to use the phyllo sheets I had leftover from making a strudel. While the end result was excellent, it took a lot of work because I’m not used to working with phyllo and it dries out so quickly, even when greased up. Cut the phyllo into 3x3 squares and use at least 2 layers to wrap the filling. To cook the dumplings, I put them into a 350º for 20-25 minutes, or until nice and brown. These should be eaten immediately.

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