Meat Dumplings (Siu Mai) 燒賣

A Cantonese Classic Dim Sum Pastry
A Japanese Take on a Chinese Favorite

Shu Mai/Sio Mai, Frozen

Shu Mai/Siu Mai, Frozen

Here;s a Japanese way of preparing the Chinese Meat Dumplings called Siu Mai using the minimum of heat and energy. This is another of the recipes circulating in Japan in the aftermath of the 2011 Kanto Earthquake, when cooks were looking for ways to reduce energy use in the kitchen and also to avoid heating up kitchens.

The result was a group of recipes for flash cooking techniques using applied physics to shorten cooking time while preserving the natural flavors of food.  This is not a recipe for making Siu Mai from scratch, but rather for preparing the frozen variety, available in many Asian markets.

The dumplings in question consist of a pastry wrapper around seasoned ground Meat, plus Vegetables and other seasonings,, called Siu Mai in Cantonese and Shao Mai in Mandarin.  Japanese call them Siu Mai and they are popular in Japanese markets, for example the Ajinomoto brand.

Shrimp Shu Mai

Shrimp Shu Mai

Since frozen Shu Mai dumplings come in several flavors, this method could be used with any of them.

The characters for the term Siu Mai or Shao Mai mean literally “cook and sell,” indicating this was probably an ancient Chinese fast-food or street food.  There are a number of regional or provincial variants on Siu Mail in China and elsewhere in the Pacific Rim, including Mongola, Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines.

You can use this method to get them ready to eat quickly and with the minimum of heat and cooking:

Siu Mai – Japanese-Flash Cooking Style



1 package prepared Siu Mai dumplings
1½ tablespoons Water


Siu Mai 2

Siu Mai

First, heat a skillet, then put the contents of a package of prepared and frozen Siu Mai Meat Dumplings in the pan.

Put 1½ tablespoons of Water in the pan and cover tightly.

Raise the flame and cook for 1½ minutes, then turn off the heat.

Wait five minutes with the cover on.  Uncover and serve.

Other Japanese flash cooking recipes include special ways of making Roast Beef, White Rice and Boiled Eggs, among others.


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