Friday, March 14, 2014

Shui Mai (all variant spellings, elsewhere)

Dimsum, the Chinese heart's delight of the culinary kingdom are a labor of love. Not including the time to purchase the ingredients, it took me 3 hours to prepare, mix, assemble, and cook the delights. I haven't made these for over 10 years, but they truly are worth the time and effort, once-in-a-while.

If you have a large family and the help has dexterous fingers, the job is much easier.

16 ozs. ground pork
16 ozs. chopped shrimp
16 ozs. baby bok choy
2 scallions, mostly the white part, smashed
2 packages of dumpling wrappers
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. sesame oil
2 tsp. dark soy
2 tsp. light soy
2 tsp. Shaoxing wine
1 egg


Diluted Red Vinegar
Chile Sauce

I found a pound of shrimp, pre-cooked, but unpeeled. The next time I make this dish, I will but the 32-40 size shrimp, uncooked. As the shrimp must be peeled, you can do this task, while the water for blanching the  baby bok choy heats.

Break the egg in a mixing bowl and beat to mix with the remaining ingredients. Reserve, while the rest of the ingredients are prepped.

Cut the stem ends of the bok choy off. Save them for soup or stir-fry. Discard any leaves that are yellow¹. In a pot of boiling water, add the leaves. Return the pot to a simmer and keep a careful eye on the leaves. When the green color darkens, immediately remove the pot to the sink and run cold water on the leaves to stop the cooking. When the bok choy is the same temperature as the running water, remove them to a strainer or colander. Press the leaves between your hand, squeezing out excess liquid. If all the shrimp's shells are removed, you can proceed to remove the sand vein, by slicing along the top and removing the black line (vein) that is visible. If you cannot remove all of it, that's not a problem. When the shrimp are cleaned, using a Chinese cleaver chop the shrimp into a mince. Put it into a large mixing bowl. Cut the top from the scallions using one to two inches of the green. Smash the scallions and then mince them and add them to the bowl.

Next mince the well drained baby bok choy. Add it to the shrimp. Add the ground pork and mix all these ingredients. I wear nitrile (latex) gloves to do this. Don't overwork this mixture, the pork fat will warm from the heat of your hands. So mix only 30 to 60 seconds. Next add the egg mixture and mix again, this time for 90 seconds.

For the making of the dimsum I find a place to sit. With the shrimp and pork mixture, a small bowl of water, the wrappers and a paper towel, the making proceeds like this:

Fold Diagonally
If your fingers and thumb are moist, dry them on the paper towel. Take one wrapper and put the top edge facing way from you. This makes the wrapper look like a star not a square. With your index finger dipped in water, moisten the perimeter of the wrapper, the width of your finger. Next put one teaspoon of mix in the center. Fold the wrapper to make it look like a triangle as pictured above. (I'm left handed, so your wonton will point to the left, not the right, like mine.) Fold one end over the other. Click to enlarge the picture, below, to see what the wonton is folded like.

Place the wonton on a tray. I have my tray lined with foil, but if you have a plate you can use it. The wontons will stick where they have been moistened so they must be kept somewhat separate. 
When about 76 wontons are made, you can either freeze them. For freezing, they must be kept separate. The wrappers will tear if they are frozen together. On a plate or tray, place the wontons in the freezer, turning them at 30 minutes. After another 30 minutes turn again. If they are frozen, then can be put in a freezer bag and kept. I cannot say how long, but I would (educated) guess at 30 days.

If you are going to make them immediately, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add the wontons, when the pot returns to a boil, add ½ cup of water. The pot ceases to simmer. When the pot again simmers, the wontons are ready to serve. This method of adding more water makes the proper cooking time much easier. There is no exact cooking time! Yay!

¹ If you are a careful shopper, you will buy the package of bok choy that have no yellow leaves. If the bok choy has been in your refrigerator and the tops of the leaves have yellowed, trim that away.