Being nostalgic with ShuMai and Pearl Meatballs

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Sometimes, you just wake up and decide today’s the day you spend 8 hours in the kitchen attempting to recreate a dimsum experience because you are in the middle of the desert. Well, today is one of those days for me.

As usual I start with a thorough research for recipes. I am in love with this lady Wantanmien on Youtube and her no-frills videos are a great source of inspiration for me lately. This may sound a little weird but part of the reason I enjoy watching her so much is that she reminds me of my mom, if my mom lived in Germany and had a kickhass Youtube channel teaching people how to make Chinese dishes. Another lady I really enjoy watching is EasyChineseFood. Maybe I am just a sucker for Chinese moms making awesome Chinese food videos in their home kitchen filmed by their kids.

Having had a little success at making hargao a couple weeks ago, I am happy to give it another try while making a second type of filling with bokchoy and bamboo shoots. I wanted to perfect the hargao pleats. And you can’t call it dimsum without shumai, which turned out to be something like an open-faced, more flamboyant cousin of wontons with it’s yellow coating and colorful toppings. The last item I decide to include on my dimsum cart is not a traditional Cantonese dish (it’s either from Hubei or Fuken depending on where you look), but something my mother and my grandma used to make on special occasions. I remember always fighting with my brother for these beautifully steamed meatballs with fragrant sticky rice on the outside, and always complaining that they didn’t make more.

Some people cook for company, some cook out of necessity and some for pleasure, I think I cook for nostalgia. I am happy to spend hours researching, collecting ingredients and perfecting a recipe if it means recreating a certain familiar taste or smell that brings me back to another time and place. I think this is a feeling most cooks and food lovers can relate with.

Pearl Meat Balls

Recipe Source: EasyChineseFood

Makes 20 10
Ground pork or chicken 454 227 g
sticky rice, presoaked for ~2 hours 240 120 ml
potato, finely chopped 1 0.5 pcs
carrot, divided in two portions 1 0.5 pcs
green onion, finely chopped 2 1 pcs
Egg, beaten and divided in two portions 1 0.5
olive oil 2 1 tbsp
soy sauce 2 1 tbso
sesame oil  1/2  1/4 tsp
salt  1/2  1/4 tsp

To make pearl meat balls, the key is to presoak the glutinous rice for at least 2 hours so it will be cooked thoroughly in the same amount of time as the meat filling. Mince 1/2 of the carrot for the filling, and slice the rest into circles for the base of the meatballs (to keep them from sticking to the steamer.) Mix all the ingredients except for sticky rice in a food processor or a bowl. Mix in one direction for at least 2 minutes or about 30 seconds in the food processor until the meat becomes sticky. Form into 1 inch size balls and leave in the fridge briefly.

Drain the soaked rice in a colander. Dip each of the meat balls in some egg wash then coat with rice all over. The rice does not have to completely cover the meat balls and the rice will expand after steaming. Place each rice covered meat ball on a piece of carrot in the steamer.

Bring the water to a boil, and place the meat balls in the steamer. Steam on medium high heat for 15~20 minutes or until the rice is completely cooked.

Chicken and Shrimp Shumai

Recipe Source: Wantanmien

Filling: 12
pork or chicken legs 100 g
shiitake mushroom 2 pcs
ginger 2 pcs
green onion 1 pcs
green peas 12 pcs
shrimps 180 g
carrot 1 pcs
sugar 1/4 tsp
pepper 1/4 tsp
chicken stock powder 1/2 tsp
corn starch 1/2 tsp
cooking wine 2 tsp
soy sauce 1/5 tsp
mushroom water 1 tbsp

You also need 12 wonton wrappers and some tumeric if you want a nice yellow colour.

Filling: Both the pork/chicken and the shrimps should be cut into small pieces then chopped with a knife or a food processor to tenderize. All other ingredients should be finely chopped. Put all ingredients (save the green peas, 1/4 of the chopped carrot and mushroom for decoration) and seasoning into the food processor or a bowl then mix until forms a sticky paste. I reserved 1/2 of the shrimp pieces and added them at the end and just mixed them in to get a nice crunchy shrimp texture.

To make the shumai: I made a turmeric/hot water mixture and dipped each skin into the turmeric water for a minute to soften the skin and make the surface more sticky. You can skip the turmeric if you don’t mind pale-looking shumais. The skin has to be presoftened because wonton skins are a bit thicker and drier. Put about 10g of filling in the middle, and using your thumbs and index fingers, make a flower with the wrapper then grab the shumai in one hand to shape it. Add some carrot and mushroom on top, then place a green pea in the centre. If the folds open up use a bit of water to stick them down.

Place the shumais in a steamer brushed with some oil on the bottom. Steam for 8 minutes on medium heat.

Jade Shrimp Dumplings

Jade dumplings
skin: 18 9
Corn starch 85 42.5 g
Tapioca starch 25 12.5 g
Hot water 110 55 g
oil 5 2.5 ml
ginger 1 0.5 piece
mushroom 1 0.5 piece
shrimps 50 25 g
bamboo shoots 30 15 ml
bokchoy 100 50 g
Corn starch 2 1 tsp


Soak the mushroom in hot water for at least 2 hours. Marinate the shrimps in a bit of corn starch and salt and let sit for about 5 minutes. Place all ingredients into a food processor and mix until it forms sticky paste. Place it in the fridge for one hour.


The skin is the same as the skin for hargao. Place the wrapped dumplings in the steamer lined with oiled wax paper. Steam for 6 minutes.

And… 6 hours later, if you are lucky, you get to enjoy this authentic dimsum meal without any of the crowd and women pushing carts and shouting at you. Serve with X.O. sauce, siracha, and soy sauce. Bon apetit!


One thought on “Being nostalgic with ShuMai and Pearl Meatballs

  1. Pingback: Chicken Rice En Papillote | Sand and lemon mint

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