Siu mai is an open-faced steamed dumpling traditionally made with minced pork. The key is to create the characteristic bouncy mouth-feel. To achieve this, most yum cha palaces use pork with some fat. The best ratio is 80 per cent lean meat to 20 per cent fat, so I often ask my butcher to mince pork belly for me. Better restaurants now use a combination of pork and prawns in the filling. I've also given them a contemporary twist by including makrut leaves for added zest.
25-30 wonton wrappers*
handful chives, finely chopped
2 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water
300g pork belly, coarsely chopped
180g peeled prawns, coarsely chopped
80g water chestnuts, chopped
2 tbsp light soy
1½ tbsp shao hsing rice wine
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp peeled ginger, finely chopped
5 makrut lime leaves, shredded
1 spring onion, thinly sliced
1 egg white
2 tbsp potato flour
2 tbsp finely chopped chives to serve, optional
1. Squeeze excess water from mushrooms. Discard stems and chop mushroom finely. Put all the filling ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. (Dim sum chefs traditionally stir the mixture in one direction 20 times.) Cover with cling wrap and set aside for 20 minutes or longer to marinate.
2. To make the dumplings, place a teaspoon of filling in the centre each wonton wrapper. Gather up the sides and squeeze to form a dumpling. Tap bottom gently on the bench so it stands upright.
3. Line a bamboo steamer with non-stick paper and make a few tiny slits for steam to rise through. Alternatively, brush steamer lightly with oil. Steam dumplings in batches for 8-10 minutes or until cooked through. Serve at once sprinkled with chives and your favourite chilli sauce or soy sauce.
*Look for wonton pastry made with wheat flour, available in Asian grocers and some supermarkets.