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Easy Dumplings for At-Home Dim Sum – No Pleating Required!
At my house, we celebrate every special moment with feast of dim sum, the most delicious spread of Chinese-inspired bites like char siu pork, egg rolls, sesame wings, & stir-fried noodles. We make dim sum for birthdays, New Year’s Eve, & summer evenings at the cabin – pretty much any celebratory gathering. 🎉
After all, sharing is the true spirit of dim sum, a meal that’s less about filling your stomach & more about spending time nibbling with others (though I AM always full afterward!). “Dim sum” literally translates to “touch the heart,” which makes me all kinds of emotional, especially when I think about my mom. 🥺💕 As a Chinese-Hawaiian transplant in rural Northern Wisconsin, she worked hard to preserve this tradition for our family, & I’m so glad she did.
This pork shumai is one of my all-time favorite recipes in Mom’s repertoire & it’s a MUST-HAVE for any dim sum feast at our house. While traditional Chinese siu mai is almost always made with ground pork & shrimp, my family loves a simpler all-pork version stuffed with green onions, meaty shiitake mushrooms, & crunchy water chestnuts. Each bite is so satisfying, with the perfect pops of texture – seriously the best!
But the really fun thing about pork shumai is how easy they are to make – perfect for beginners! While folding pork shumai certainly gets easier with practice, it doesn’t require the skill that more intricately pleated dumplings do. With shumai, the process is surprisingly easy & the results are always stunning – plus, we’re walking you through it with step-by-step photos & video below!
Pork Shumai Recipe Highlights
Mom’s siu mai dumplings are extra-special. You’re going to love them because they’re…
FULL OF GOODNESS. Each shumai dumpling is stuffed with a hearty pork filling studded with shiitake mushrooms & water chestnuts – 2 ingredients that are not necessarily traditional, but my family loves them. Hearty & tender with a delightful crunch!
EASIER THAN YOU THINK. Homemade shumai dumplings are super simple to make, I promise. Prep the pork filling & practice the siu mai shaping as you go. Plus, we have step-by-step photos & video below to help you along the way. You’ll be a pro in no time!
A DIM SUM CLASSIC. Pork shumai is a staple at our family’s dim sum celebrations – each is filled with lots of love & tradition. Perfect for an at-home dim sum party!
Totally approachable homemade dumplings! ♡ Read on to learn more about how to make Mom’s Pork Shumai, or jump straight to the recipe & get cooking!
What is Shumai?
Shumai (aka siu mai) is a traditional Chinese dumpling & one of the most popular dim sum dishes. The version most of us are probably familiar with is Cantonese-style siu mai – round, open-top dumplings often filled with pork & shrimp – though many varieties are enjoyed across Southeast Asia. (Note! ⇢ While siu mai is the official Cantonese pronunciation, we’ll mostly be referring to these dumplings as shumai since that’s how they’re commonly spelled in English.)
What is shumai made of? ⇢ In its most basic form, shumai is made by filling a wonton wrapper with finely ground meat & veggies. Pork is a popular filling & also often combined with shrimp. The wonton is then folded on the sides so the beautiful filling peeks through the top! 😍
While you can fill & prepare shumai dumplings in many ways, this recipe is my family’s version that we love & cherish. Mom’s pork shumai recipe uses ingredients that were most accessible to our Chinese-American family in rural Wisconsin. It means so much to me that she kept special foods like this a part of my life growing up – the love & memories I taste with every bite makes her shumai extra special. 🥰 I think you’ll love Mom’s shumai just as much as I do!
Other quick shumai FAQs:
- Shumai pronunciation ⇢ Shumai dumplings are pronounced SHOO-mai.
- Shumai vs. siu mai ⇢ Siu mai is the Cantonese pronunciation of these dumplings (the place where they were born!). In English, we know the dish as shumai. They both refer to the same dish!
- Shumai vs. dumplings ⇢ Pork shumai is a type of dumpling, but the biggest distinguishing factor is its presentation. Unlike sealed or pleated dumplings, shumai dumplings have an open top that allows you to take a peek at the beautiful filling. This simple fold is one of the reasons shumai is such an approachable homemade dumpling, especially for beginners!
Mom’s shumai recipe uses less than a dozen ingredients, most of which are pantry staples at my family’s house! If don’t have them on hand, they’re all easy to find at conventional grocery stores or your local Asian supermarket.
Note: Full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.
To make this pork siu mai recipe, you need…
- Ground pork – While it’s common to see shumai dumplings stuffed with a combo of ground pork & minced shrimp, Mom only uses pork in her shumai recipe (probably because she had a picky daughter who didn’t like shrimp 😇). If you’re a shrimp lover, go for it!
- Veggies – One of my favorite things about Mom’s shumai dumplings is the addition of extra veggies in the pork filling. This shumai recipe uses meaty dried shiitake mushrooms, sliced green onions, & water chestnuts for a wonderful crispy-crunchy pop. While these add-ins aren’t necessarily traditional, I honestly can’t imagine shumai without them. I have a feeling that you’ll love them too!
- Filling seasoning – Sesame oil, oyster sauce, soy sauce, granulated sugar, & ground white pepper season the ground pork & veggie mixture, creating a super flavorful dumpling filling. Feel free to mix in garlic, ginger, or rice wine like shaoxing wine or sake if you like!
- Cornstarch slurry – Cornstarch is the game-changing ingredient in many Chinese dishes (like stir fry!). It’s the foundation of a method called velveting, which makes any meat super tender. A cornstarch slurry gives the ground pork a deliciously bouncy texture that’s ideal for tender & satisfying dumplings.
- Wonton wrappers – We use 2 ½ – 3 inch round store-bought wonton wrappers, which you can find in the freezer section of your local Asian grocery store. If you’re up for a fun project, you can also make homemade dumpling dough using simple staple ingredients like flour, cornstarch, & water – this is a great shumai wrapper recipe!
- Dipping sauce – A quick mixture of Chinese hot mustard & soy sauce makes the best savory-spicy dipping sauce for dumplings – our fave!
Pork Shumai Filling
The filling is the heart of any dumpling! Mom combines very classic seasonings with a few less traditional add-ins to create an especially hearty & delicious pork shumai filling. The best part, though? It’s super quick to mix up!
Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.
Mix the pork & cornstarch slurry. Pour a little cornstarch slurry & sesame oil over ground pork, then use your hands to combine the meat with the liquid. As you mix, it will get a sticky appearance – that’s a good thing! Why? ⇢ Cornstarch helps lock moisture into the pork (a classic method in Asian cuisines called velveting), which gives the meat a beautifully tender texture.
Add the veggies & season the pork. Add thinly sliced green onions, diced shiitake mushrooms & water chestnuts, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, & white pepper into the large mixing bowl with the ground pork. Important! ⇢ The size of your veggies is key here! If they’re too large, the mushrooms, water chestnuts, & green onions will add too much of an unwelcomed crunch to the tender dumplings. Aim for a small dice, which keeps all of the textures balanced.
Mix with your hands. Keep mixing with your hands until the veggies & seasoning are all incorporated, creating a uniform pork shumai filling. It’s a little messy, but it’s fun! Why? ⇢ Using your hands helps fully mix without overworking the pork. It’s easy to overwork ground meat, which results in tough shumai dumplings – not what we’re after here!
How to Make Shumai Dumplings
Here’s where everything starts coming together. Once the pork siu mai filling is mixed together, all that’s left to do is wrap it into wonton wrappers to create beautiful, open-faced shumai dumplings. Compared to other more intricate dumpling pleats, wrapping shumai dumplings is pretty straightforward. Practice makes perfect – just be patient & have fun with it!
Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.
Prepare the wonton wrapper. Take a small spoonful of the seasoned pork & veggie filling & spread it around the center of a round wonton wrapper. Be sure to leave some space around the edges – a small ⅛-inch border is perfect!
Shape the shumai. Place the prepared shumai wrapper (meat side up!) in the palm of your non-dominant hand. As you gently cup your hand, the edges of the wonton wrapper will naturally raise & fold around the shumai pork filling.
Fold the shumai. Use your dominant hand’s index finger & thumb to pinch around the edges of the wonton wrapper, gently crimping pleats around the entire dumpling. Use a spoon to flatten the exposed pork mixture so it’s even with the edges of the wrapper. Feeling stuck? ⇢ Watch Mom shape shumai in the step-by-step video below!
Repeat! One down, several to go! This recipe makes 25-30 pork shumai, so keep repeating until they’re all prepared. Since it can be a bit time-consuming, shaping shumai is a great thing to do with others. Get your friends & family in on the fun!
Cooking Pork Shumai
Is shumai fried or steamed? ⇢ While you can pan-fry shumai, we prefer to steam our dumplings. You’ll need a steamer basket to do so. Mom always uses a stainless steel steamer pot like this one but I often use bamboo steamer baskets because they fit well in my Staub Dutch ovens.
What to do without a steamer? ⇢ If you don’t have any type of steamer in your kitchen, no worries! The next best thing is putting a small wire rack on the bottom of a large pot or wok, giving the pork shumai a place to sit. You want the shumai dumplings to cook in the steam without coming into direct contact with the boiling water.
Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.
To steam the pork shumai…
Prepare the steamer pot. Fill the steamer pot with water & bring it to a boil. Boiling water creates the steam that cooks the dumplings – you only need a few inches of water to do so! While the water comes up to a boil, prep the steamer basket. Spritz its surface with cooking spray, which helps prevent the delicate shumai dumplings from sticking to the basket as they cook.
Add the dumplings & steam. Arrange the dumplings on the prepared steamer rack. Take care not to cram them in – they need a little bit of space to breathe as they cook! Put the basket in the pot, cover, & steam the shumai for 7 minutes. Mom swears by 7 minutes exactly, which is just the right amount of time to cook the shumai pork filling through & keep the wrappers nice & tender.
Repeat! It’s important to work in batches rather than overcrowding the steaming basket. Pork siu mai cooks quickly & your dim sum will be ready in no time!
Serving Suggestions + Other Tips & Tricks
Pork siu mai is always best served as a dim sum meal – my family’s favorite way to celebrate!
At our house, we always serve these dumplings alongside a simple shumai dipping sauce made by mixing Chinese hot mustard with a little diluted soy sauce. Since the hot mustard is spicy, we typically just set both ingredients on the table & allow everyone to mix the sauce to their taste. If you prefer to serve with other sauces, like chili oil, go for it!
Storage & Freezing
Any leftover pork shumai is easy to reheat in the microwave & can be enjoyed up to 3-4 days after it’s made. You can also freeze pork shumai dumplings in a freezer bag & pop them out to enjoy down the line – they last for months! Check the Recipe Notes, below, for more guidance!
We can’t wait for you to try Mom’s Pork Shumai! Not only are they the easiest dumplings you can make, this is a treasured family recipe that we know you’re going to love just as much as we do.
If you give them a try, be sure to let us know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. We LOVE seeing your PWWB creations! ♡ Happy cooking!
More Recipes Like This:
Favorite Chinese-Inspired Recipes
Every special gathering with my family always involves dim sum. Whether it’s a birthday, holiday, or even just a summer evening at the cabin, you’ll always find us sitting around the table & nibbling for hours as we enjoy each other’s company.
At our house, our dim sum spreads always include egg rolls, char siu pork, & some sort of stir fried noodles, but my eyes are always glued to the platter of Mom’s Pork Shumai – they’re tender, juicy, & have so much delicious aromatic flavor!
While you can fill & prepare siu mai dumplings in many ways, this recipe is my family’s version that we love & cherish. Mom’s pork shumai recipe comes together by tucking an all-pork filling into wonton wrappers & steaming until they’re perfectly tender. The pork filling is succulent & juicy, & add-ins like hearty shiitake mushrooms, crunchy water chestnuts, & aromatic green onions create the perfect balance in flavor & texture.
Plus, since shumai are open-faced & don’t require any any intricate pleating, they’re one of the easiest dumplings you can learn to make, which is perfect if you’re just starting out! Be sure to check out the blog post, above, for more tips, tricks, & secrets to success, & watch the Youtube video below for step-by-step guidance.
We’re thrilled special family recipe with you, & it’s our hope that you enjoy it just as much as we do at our house. ♡ Happy cooking!
- 1 pound ground pork
- starch slurry (2 tablespoons water + 2 ½ tablespoons cornstarch or potato starch)
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2–3 green onions, finely sliced (approx. ¼ cup)
- 1 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated in hot water for 10 minutes & finely diced (approx. 6–7 dried mushrooms, see Recipe Notes)
- 4 ounces water chestnuts, finely diced (approx. ½ cup diced, see Recipe Notes)
- 4 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- 1 package 2 ½ – 3-inch round wonton wrappers (see Recipe Notes)
- nonstick cooking spray, for steaming
- for serving: siu mai sauce (1 tablespoon Chinese hot mustard + 1 tablespoon cold water mixed into a paste + 3 tablespoons soy sauce).
- Shumai prep: For easiest prep, start by measuring & preparing shumai ingredients according to the Ingredients List, above (e.g. slice green onions, dice mushrooms, chop water chestnuts, measure liquid ingredients, etc.). To prepare the slurry, simply whisk it together in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup (I typically combine the cornstarch/potato starch & water in a jar & vigorously shake to combine). Set aside.
- Prepare the pork shumai filling: Place the ground pork in a large mixing bowl, pouring the cornstarch slurry & sesame oil over top. Using your hands, mix to combine very well, until the pork has a sticky appearance. Add in the remaining shumai filling ingredients (green onions, mushrooms, water chestnuts, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, & white pepper). Using your hands, mix to combine very well, until everything is evenly combined. Set aside for shumai dumpling assembly, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
- Shumai assembly: Line a quarter sheet pan with wax paper or parchment paper & set aside. To wrap & fold the shumai dumplings, place a rounded tablespoon of the pork mixture in the center of one of the round shumai wrappers. Use the back of the spoon to spread the pork to the edge of the wrapper, leaving a ⅛-inch border along the edge. Place the prepared shumai wrapper in the palm of your non-dominant hand, meat side facing up, & cup your hand gently to raise the edges of the wonton wrapper slightly up. Using your dominant hand, begin pinching the edge of the wrapper & laying it back, working your way around until you form a fully pleated shumai dumplings. Use the back of your spoon to smooth & flatten the exposed pork mixture at top of shumai, then use your thumb to flatten bottom. Set the wrapped shumai dumpling on the prepared baking sheet.
- Repeat dumpling assembly until you’ve used all of the remaining pork mixture. You can leave the assembled dumplings uncovered if you’ll be preparing shortly after assembly. Transfer them to the refrigerator while you prepare your steamer pot, or transfer to a parchment-lined airtight container & store in the refrigerator for up to 1 day. (You may have some leftover siu mai wrappers, which can wrap well & freeze for the next time you make siumai).
- Steam the siumai dumplings: Prepare your steamer pot according to manufacturers directions. We typically add 2-3 inches of water in the bottom pot, then bring it to a boil over high heat. Very lightly spray the steamer baskets with nonstick cooking spray, then place the siu mai in the prepared baskets, arranging them such that each dumpling has about ¼-inch to ½-inch of space around it. Since basket sizes can vary, be sure the dumplings are not touching the basket. Once the water reaches a boil, place the steamer baskets over top & cover with a lid. Steam for about 7 minutes, until the wrappers are soft & the pork is cooked through. Transfer steamed shumai dumplings to a serving plate & repeat steaming process with any remaining siumai.
- Serving: Enjoy your shumai dumplings straight out of the steamer while they’re still warm with a simple shumai dipping sauce of Chinese hot mustard & soy sauce. (We always mix this at the table to our individual tastes. I suggest starting with mixing 1 tablespoon Chinese hot mustard powder with 2 tablespoons cold water into a thick paste. Add 3 tablespoons soy sauce to the mustard powder mixture, then adjust based on how spicy & punchy you’d like it to be). At our house, we most often enjoy shumai alongside an entire spread of other pupus & dim sum, like Mom’s egg rolls, sesame chicken wings, char siu bao, & stir fried noodles. Enjoy!
- Ingredient & Equipment Notes:
- Siu mai dumpling wrappers: At my house, we always make shumai using store-bought wonton wrappers. For best results, look for 2 ½ – 3-inch round wrappers, which are readily available in the freezer aisle of a well-stocked Asian grocery store. If you can only find square won ton wrappers, you can substitute, simply cut off the corners of the wrappers before assembly to make the round shape. If you’d like to take on a fun kitchen project, you can also easily make siu mai wrappers at home with staple ingredients like all-purpose flour, cornstarch, & water – my friend Kristina has a wonderful homemade shumai wrapper recipe.
- Shiitake mushrooms: We always like to add some shiitakes to our dumplings; their meaty texture adds a little extra heft to the filling & their earthy flavor is delicious. If fresh shiitake mushrooms are readily available where you live, feel free to use them! You’ll need about 1 ½ ounces of fresh shitake mushrooms (approx. 3 mushrooms). If you cannot find fresh or dried shiitake mushrooms, feel free to swap in another variety you like – white button mushrooms & cremini “baby bella” mushrooms will work well, too!
- Water chestnuts are an aquatic tuber (named after their chestnut-like appearance) indigenous to Southeast Asia. They are very mild in flavor, but have a wonderfully refreshing crunchy-crisp texture. You’ll often see water chestnuts used in Chinese-style stir fries, but my family always adds them to dishes like siu mai or manapua (char siu bao) for extra texture. Canned water chestnuts are readily available in most conventional grocery stores – find them in the “International” aisle near other Asian ingredients.
- Steamer pot set up for steamed dumplings: The only special equipment you need to make steamed shumai dumplings at home is a steamer pot. If you don’t yet have one, there are plenty of options! Mom uses a wonderful stainless steel steamer pot similar to this one, which she’s used for years. I opt for bamboo steamer baskets, which fit really well in my Staub Dutch ovens. Our Place, also sells spruce steamer baskets that are designed to fit their popular Always Pan.
- Storage, & Freezing:
- Storage & Reheating: Leftover steamed pork shumai will keep, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for 3-4 days. Reheat in the microwave until warmed through.
- Freezer Instructions: You can also freeze leftover shumai dumplings. Transfer the chilled steamed shumai to a freezer bag & freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat in the microwave until warmed through.
- Make-Ahead Pork Shumai: While this pork shumai recipe is pretty straight-forward, preparing the pork filling & folding the dumplings does take a little time – it’s kind of a kitchen project in that way! If you’d like to do a little prep in advance to cut down on active hands-on time when you steam your dumplings there are a few options:
- Make-Ahead Option #1: Prep the pork shumai filling in advance. Prepare the siu mai filling according to Steps 1-2 of Recipe Directions, above. Transfer to an airtight container & store in the refrigerator for up to 1 day. The day you’d like to steam your shumai dumplings, simply fill & fold dumplings according to Steps 3-4, above, then proceed with steaming.
- Make-Ahead Option #2: Assemble the pork shumai dumplings in advance. Prepare the shumai according to Steps 1-4 of Recipe Notes, above. Transfer to a parchment or wax paper-lined airtight container & store in the refrigerator for up to 1 day. Be sure the shumai dumplings are stored with space between each individual dumpling to prevent sticking. To steam, simply allow the shumai to warm slightly before steaming according to Steps 5 of Recipe Directions, above.
Keywords: shumai dumplings, pork shumai, homemade shumai, shumai recipe, siu mai recipe, siu mai dumplings
Recipe and Food Styling by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Rachel Cook, Half Acre House.