Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Open-Face Dumplings (Siu Mai)

This special open-face dumplings or síu mại dish is made in loving memory of my dear late grandmother who passed away at age 98 on January 31, 2018. She was an amazing woman, petite but very energetic and strong mentally and physically--still working after age 97! A few days before I left Vietnam I was weighing my luggage for the plane. She was interested in knowing her weight and as quickly as she said it she was sitting on the scale with both feet up, and asking me to read the number! 

My mother and I last made these dumplings for my grandmother on one of our visits to Vietnam--it would be the last time that I saw her in person. The pre-made dumpling dough or dumpling skin was not available for purchase so we made our skin from scratch. We also did not have a pasta maker so we rolled the skin using a rolling pin. A pasta maker can make the thin skin quickly and without much effort. Nowadays if you live in the US you can easily purchase the skin at your local market. 

my 97 year old grandmother
with the síu mại ready to be cooked
(January 2017, Vietnam)
my grandmother--weighed 27.5 kilograms!
(Vietnam, 2015)
For this particular recipe I add a few extra ingredients which were not available when we made these for my grandmother--wild harvested local scallops, green crab roe and the porcini mushroom powder. The roe is delicious but also makes these dumplings look attractive. If you prefer less roe then use 1 ounce and about 1/4 teaspoon fish sauce. I want to thank Jamie Bassett, owner of Green Crab Nation (volume supplier of green crab) for the green crab roe. You may omit the porcini mushroom powder if it is not available or use another type of dried mushroom such as shiitake.

Recently my husband and I took a short trip to Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, New Hampshire for an impressive view of the works of an American sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens. In Claremont we stopped for a quick bite and I purchased the porcini mushroom powder along with a few other small spice bags from Claremont Spice & Dry Goods. Owners David and Ingrid Lucier run this store and they are unique in selling small quantity, high quality spices at a very reasonable price. David tells us that his entire spice inventory has a shelf life of 3 months. Sorry, no mail order! 

place approximately 1 tablespoon of the filling in the center of the skin,
press the side of the top part of the skin inward to make pleats
(photo courtesy of my husband, Paul Huibers)
gently drop the dumpling on the working surface a few times
to let the dumpling sit with a sturdy base
(photo courtesy of my husband, Paul Huibers)
garnish the dumpling with the toppings
(photo courtesy of my husband, Paul Huibers)
cooked open-face dumplings (síu mại)
Open-Face Dumplings (Síu Mại)--makes about 22 dumplings


1 Wonton and Síu Mại Dumpling Skins (see recipe below)
Síu Mại Filling (see recipe below)
1 Seasoned Cooked Green Crab Caviar (see recipe below)


Fill the middle of a skin with approximately 1 tablespoon of the filling. Press the side of the top part of the skin inward to make pleats. Gently drop the dumpling on your working surface a few times to let the dumpling sits with a sturdy base. Repeat until all of your dumplings are done. Garnish with the toppings. Steam 8-10 minutes preferably in a bamboo steamer. Be sure to line the bottom of your steamer with either parchment paper, banana leaf, or napa cabbage leaves. I cut a piece of parchment paper and made small holes to allow the steam to flow through during cooking.

May dip these dumplings in soy sauce with or without additional chili pepper, hot mustard, chili oil or your own special dipping. I prefer Maggi brand Seasoning (sauce) made in Germany for the flavor and Chiu Chow Chili Oil. These may be purchase at an Asian market.

mixed síu mại filling--ready to mince or puree
pureed síu mại filling--ready to be used
Síu Mại Filling (makes about 13 oz)


4 oz ground pork
4 oz shrimp, roughly chopped
4 oz sea scallop, roughly diced
2 Tbsp shallot, minced
1/2 tsp grated garlic
1/2 tsp grated ginger
2 tsp chopped cilantro
2 tsp chopped scallion
1/2 tsp porcini mushroom powder
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
8 roasted white peppercorns, crushed into powder (about 1/8 tsp ground or crushed)
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 large egg white, whisked
1 tsp cornstarch


Mix all of the ingredients well. Use a food processor to puree a few times to blend everything together. If you do not have a food process you can use a large knife or cleaver to hand chop everything to blend. Cover and keep in refrigerator until ready to use.

dumpling dough
 start cutting to size
I try to prevent waste!
twenty eight 3-inch round skins

Wonton and Síu Mại Dumpling Skin (8 oz skin, makes about twenty-four to twenty-eight 3-inch round skins)


1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 large egg
2 1/2 to 3 Tbsp hot water
Cornstarch (to prevent the skin from sticking to each other)


Whisk or sift all-purpose flour, salt and turmeric powder. Add egg and incorporate it into the flour. Slowly add a tablespoon of water at a time to bind everything together. The dough should not be too sticky or too dry. Knead for about 5 minutes, wrap it in plastic or cover with a damp towel and let it rest for about an hour. May keep sealed up in the refrigerator overnight. When ready to use let it rest at room temperature and knead for about 5 minutes.

Hand Roll:
Divide the dough into 4 (each piece should be about 2 ounces). Roll each piece into a log. Cut each log into 6-7 pieces. Flatten a piece with your palm and roll the edges using a rolling pin. Use a drinking glass or a round dough cutter to cut out the skin. Dust each side of the skin with cornstarch to prevent them from sticking to each other. Keep the skin cover. If the dough gets too dry add a little egg yolk or water to moisten it.

Pasta Maker:
Pass the dough through the pasta maker at the largest setting 2 times, change to a medium setting and pass it 2 times, change to the thinnest setting that you like and pass it 2 times. Cut and dust with cornstarch to prevent the skin from sticking to one another. Keep the skin cover.

cooked green crab caviar
seasoned cooked green crab caviar
Seasoned Cooked Green Crab Caviar (toppings)


1 tsp vegetable oil (or any types you prefer)
1/2 tsp shallot, minced
1/4 tsp grated ginger
1/4 tsp grated garlic
2 oz cooked green crab roe
1/2 tsp fish sauce (nước mắm)


Saute shallot, ginger, garlic in hot oil for about 30 seconds. Avoid burning the garlic. Add crab roe and saute about 30 seconds. Season with fish sauce, stir and turn off heat.

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