Tag Archives: steamed

Shāomai – Shanghai glutinous rice dumpling – 烧麦

Typically sold alongside baozi inside stacks of steaming bamboo baskets, shāomai (Chinese: 烧麦) are wonton-skins wrapped around savory glutinous rice with its skin gathered at the top. The street food is typically eaten as a hand-held breakfast staple and sold for 1.5 yuan.

It is a popular street food snack that has been gradually introduced to provinces throughout China, where it has adapted to different regional tastes that have changed its ingredients and forms in various ways. In the southern provinces of Zhejiang, Guangdong, and Jiansu, the radical “mai” in shaomai means to sell, while in Northern provinces of Beijing and Inner Mongolia, the radical “mai” in shaomai means wheat. Regardless of the region’s form of Chinese character, Chinese people know shaomai as a type of dumpling made with flour that is made with baking powder and with a skin that gathers at the top to resemble a pomegranate.

Shaomai consists of glutinous rice balls seasoned with scallions, minced pork, mushrooms, soy sauce, and salt. They are wrapped around thin wonton skins.

Cooking Method:
Ground pork is seasoned with salt and minced scallions and pan-fried. Shiitake mushrooms are minced and slightly cooked. Glutinous rice (nuomi) is first steamed and then combined with the ground pork, mushrooms, and soy sauce until the rice is dyed a light brown color. The seasoned rice is wrapped around a thin wonton skin and cooked in a bamboo steamer for 5 minutes. They are left in the steamer to stay warm, and served directly from it.

History :
The earliest historical record of shaomai dates back to the 14th century during the late Yuan Dynasty and early Ming Dynasty in a Korean-Chinese textbook called “Pu Tong Yan Jie”, which mentions the street food. It is said that the name comes from having a similar appearanceto taohua, which means peach blossom. During the Qian Long periodof the Qing Dynasty, it also appeared in a line of a poem that stated, “Shao mai huntun lie man pan,” which describes how people ate shaomai alongside dumplings on a plate. Several different fillings are described in the Qingping Shangtang, including vegetable, lamb, chicken, pheasant, sesame, plum, and lamb.

While there are various textual recordings of the street food’s existence, its geographical origins are traced to the Inner Mongolia province, where Qing Dynasty merchants would visit tea houses where they were served and bring them along with them as they traveled throughout the surrounding areas.

Possible Variations:
Siumai – Cantonese pork and mushroom dumpling
Huhhot shaomai – sheep dumpling
Hunan shaomai– chrysanthemum dumpling
Jiangnan shaomai – Jiangnan dumpling
Yifeng shaomai – Jiangxi dumpling

Related Cuisine:
Shanghai cuisine


Zong Zi – Glutinous Rice Balls – 粽子

Zongzi (or simply zong) (Chinese: ) is a traditional Chinese food, made of glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in bamboo, reed, or other large flat leaves. They are cooked by steaming or boiling. In the Western world, they are also known as rice dumplings or sticky rice dumplings.

Zongzi (sticky rice dumplings) are traditionally eaten during the Duanwu Festival (Mandarin: Duānwǔ; Cantonese: Tuen Ng), which falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar (approximately late-May to mid-June).

The fillings used for zongzi vary from region to region, but the rice used is almost always glutinous rice (also called “sticky rice” or “sweet rice”). Depending on the region, the rice may be lightly precooked by stir-frying or soaked in water before using. In the north, fillings are mostly red bean paste and tapioca or taro. Northern style zongzi tend to be sweet and dessert-like. Southern-style zongzi, however, tend to be more savory. Fillings of Southern-style zongzi include salted duck egg, pork belly, taro, shredded pork or chicken, Chinese sausage, pork fat, and shiitake mushrooms.

Zongzi need to be steamed or boiled for several hours depending on how the rice is made prior to being added, along with the fillings. However, as the modes of zongzi styles have traveled and become mixed, today one can find all kinds of zongzi at traditional markets, and their types are not confined to which side of the Yellow River they originated from.

History of Zongzi

Zongzi are traditionally eaten during the Dragon Boat Festival (端午節), on May 5th of the lunar calendar. It is said that on this day, Qu Yuan, a famous Chinese poet who lived in the Chu kingdom, drowned himself in the Miluo River. Before this, he tried to warn his king and his people that their neighbor, the Qin kingdom, was going to invade the Chu kingdom. When the Chu capital was taken over, Qu Yuan was so upset that he drowned himself. When his body could not be found, people threw packets of rice into the river to prevent the fish from eating it.

Regional origin: The Chu kingdom was in present day Hubei

zongzi map

Possible Variations:

Jianshui Zong (碱水粽) – usually eaten as a dessert; the glutinous rice is treated with lye water to make it more alkaline. The rice turns yellow and sweet. It usually has no filling or is filled with sweet mixtures, such as a red bean paste.

People in the north tend to make sweet zongzi. Their fillings could have dried dates, chicken, or red bean paste. People in the south tend to make savory zongzi with pork, Chinese sausage, and mung beans.

Nyonyazong (娘惹粽) – a part of the cuisine unique to Chinese Malaysians/Singaporeans; similar to southern Chinese zongzi, but the filling is made with minced pork with winter melon, ground roasted peanuts, and a spice mix

Taiwanese Zongzi – 臺灣粽; similar to Chinese zongzi, but wrapped with different leaves; not as fatty; pork, mushroom, salted duck egg, peanuts, chestnuts as fillings (some put dried squid or shrimp as well); some are vegetarian so the filling would have only peanuts.

Related Cuisine

糯米雞 (nuomji) is a Cantonese dim sum dish; steamed sticky rice with chicken in lotus leaf wrap. Fillings include chicken, Chinese sausage, salted egg, dried shrimp, mushrooms, and scallions. It’s usually wrapped in a square instead of a prism.