When my older sister was still in college in the Philippines, I would join our family driver to pick her up after school. I would tag along because her school had a nearby restaurant that offered delicious Siu Mai (or Shomai in Tagalog) and if I was lucky, we would go eat there. The dumplings would come fresh from the bamboo steamer, served with soy sauce on the side.
Since then, I’ve been dreaming about making a vegan version of this childhood favorite. Finally, I did my research and found ways to get the flavors of shrimp and the texture of pork without having to use any animal ingredients or products.
I call my recipe “AstigVegan’s Siu Mai Dumplings” because as you notice it’s not really the traditional kind per se, not just because it doesn’t have pork and shrimp but also because the presentation is a little different. Usually the filling is more exposed and the wrapper is not sealed. However, I am confident to tell you that it tastes just as delicious and heavenly as I remember since I was a kid.
First, you’re going to need a bamboo steamer which is usually available at Asian stores. You could also use a regular steel steamer but the result may not be the same.
Here’s what you need:
ASTIGVEGAN’S SHU MAI DUMPLINGS
- bamboo steamer
- 1 pack of wonton wrapper (make sure the ingredients doesn’t have any eggs)
- 1 carrot, cut in chunk (any way really, we’re going to blend them later)
- 1/2 cup of firm tofu, cut in chunks (any way really, we’re going to blend them later)
- 1 block of wheat gluten, minced
- 1/2 cup of golden corn kernels (traditional recipe calls for sugar but I used the natural sweetness of corn instead)
- 1 cup of dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water for at least 20 minutes, minced
- 1 cup mushroom broth (from the soaked dried shiitake mushrooms)
- 4 tbsp corn starch, dissolved and mixed in a cup of water
- 3 pcs scallion, minced (or ginger)
- 2-3 tbsp sesame oil
- 2-3 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine (available at most Asian stores)
- 1/2 – 1 cup vegetable broth (depending on how strong the flavors are of your vegetable broth)
- salt and white pepper to taste
By the way, here’s the wheat gluten I used:
Using a high speed blender (I used Vitamix), blend the tofu, carrots, corn, sesame oil, scallion, mushroom broth, and vegetable broth.
It should look like this afterward: (This would provide the shrimp-like taste of the vegan dumpling).
Then mix in the corn starch, minced mushroom and wheat gluten (which would provide the “pork” texture of the dumpling). It should look like this:
You don’t want the filing to be soupy so don’t use too much of the blended cream, just enough to coat the wheat gluten and mushroom. If you end up having alot more of the blended cream, add more wheat gluten and mushroom.
Feel free to taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking. For example, if you think it needs a bit more of a fatty taste, add olive oil or sesame oil. If it needs more flavor, add more vegetable broth.
Once you’ve reached the taste you’re going for, prepare to wrap the filling.
Put together your index or middle finger and thumb forming a circle. Place the wrapper on top of it. Scoop a tablespoon of filling and put it on the middle of the wrapper. Let the wrapper slide down your hand so you could seal the ends of the wrapper. Plead the sides together to secure the wrap. Here’s what I’m talking about:
I learned that the wheat gluten expands after steaming so be sure you don’t put alot in your wrapper. You also need to transfer the dumplings to the bamboo steamer immediately for steaming. If the dumplings are not transferred right away, the filling will melt and will create a hole and tear the dumpling before you could even cook it.
Place parchment paper with holes on the bamboo steamer (so the dumplings won’t stick to the steamer). Boil the water underneath the steamer then transfer the dumplings. Steam for about 20 minutes. You know the dumplings are done when all parts of the wrapper are soft and little more translucent.
Place the dumplings to a serving plate and serve with soy sauce on the side. Enjoy!
I am so happy I was able to recreate the Siu Mai I loved eating when I was a kid. It’s the magic of mixing tofu and carrots plus the texture of wheat gluten that made it happen for me. I hope you could give this recipe a try and let me know how it goes!