I miss Asian food

Time for a bit of a rant.


Having grown up eating my mom’s home cooked Chinese food, my palate is biased towards Chinese cuisines. I love how most our dishes are shared, allowing everyone to try everything on the table. I love all the combinations of flavours and spices used to create warm and comforting foods. There is so much variation from region to region which is what makes Chinese cuisine so unique and delicious.


It’s only been two weeks since leaving Richmond but I’m already on Chinese food withdrawal.


Being back in Hamilton, there is a lack of good, authentic Chinese/Asian food. All the options on campus are limited to the standard Americanized General Tso’s chicken, sweet and sour pork, chow mein and fried rice. Being Chinese, General Tso’s chicken and all these other dishes are not real Chinese food. These are american dishes with asian influences. Often times, these dishes are drenched in sauce, deep fried and the rice is always extremely dry. Bleargh.


The Asian population at McMaster isn’t a small one. I feel that hospitality services should try to include more authentic options that the Asian population could eat on a daily basis, rather than serving spring rolls and fried wontons.


I miss my mom’s cooking already and it has only been two weeks. Hopefully I’ll be able to find some time this year to cook some meals myself using my little rice cooker. (Get ready for some posts featuring dorm cooking.)


Following that rant, let’s get on with a recipe.


Today’s recipe is a classic Shanghainese dim sum dish. I prefer this version of siu mai over the classic Cantonese style siu mai. The Shangnainese style 烧卖 (shao mai) is stuffed with a sticky rice filling instead of the typical pork filling. Its fragrant, delicious and comforting.




Shanhainese style Shao Mai (烧卖)


  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • ~ 3/4 cup boiling water

1. In a medium bowl, combine all-purpose flour and boiling water. Be sure to gradually add the water in and not add too much. You want to achieve a smooth dough. If dough is too dry and crumbly, gradually add 1 tbsp at a time of boiling water, thoroughly mixing before adding more.

2. Dust your work surface liberally with flour. Shape dough into a long log, about 1″ in diameter. Cut disks about 1/4” wide and squish them to form flatter disks. Grab a rolling pin and roll into thin rounds.

Pork Marinade:

Combine the following ingredients and let sit overnight.

  • 1 cup minced pork
  • 1 tsp chopped ginger
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 1/2 tbsp corn starch
  • pinch of salt

Other filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups glutinous rice
  • 9-10 dried shiitake mushrooms soaked in hot water
  • 2-3 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • ~1/2 cup water
  • chopped green onion for garnish

1. Soak glutinous rice overnight. Drain the water the following morning. Steam rice for ~15 min until rice is almost transparent. Chop the soaked mushroom into small dices. Reserve the liquid from soaking the mushrooms for later.

2. Heat oil in a wok/pan and add pork. Stir-fry until the colour changes, then add in shiitake mushrooms. Continue to stir-fry until soft. Add in salt, dark soy sauce, sugar, liquid from soaking the mushrooms and 1/2 cup of water. Stir until reduced. Add in the cooked glutinous rice and stir until well combined. Allow to cool and set aside for assembly.


1. Take a prepared shao mai wrapper and place about a tablespoon of filling in the center. Hold the shao mai in between your thumb and index finger, allowing the filling to sag into the small round space. Gently squeeze the neck of the shao mai to close half way. Repeat until filling and/or wrappers run out*.

2. Place shao mai in a steamer and steam over high heat for ~7 min. Remove from heat, garnish with green onion and serve.

*If you have left over filling, just eat it! It’s delicious on it’s own.

*If you have left over wrappers, steam it then wrap anything you want in them! They’re delicious on their own too.


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