Friday, 6 January 2012

Smoky Prawn and Pork 'Shu Mai' in a Sweet Pea and Spinach Broth and Chilli Sesame Oil

Smoky Shu Mai in a Sweet Pea Broth
Japanese Chilli Oil

Shu Mai is one of my favourite childhood food. It is a steamed open-topped dumplings traditionally filled with a pork and shrimp mixture. Normally served as one half of the famous Dim Sum dish. In fact, it is quite common to have people simply address the Dim Sum as 'Har Gao Shu Mai' as these are the two dishes that are most popular and the feast will not be complete without it.
I used to visit my Nan in Malaysia every summer during the school holiday when I was young. Due to her age, my nan do not ventured out of the house too frequently but every Sunday, come rain or shine, at about ten o'clock in the morning, she will be all dressed up and my uncle will chauffeur her to her favourite Dim Sum restaurant for breakfast. This is a monumental event for her, she always looked so proud and she would bring along my cousins and me( her little grandsons and granddaughters), to savour this feast with her. And it goes without words that 'Shu Mai' will make an appearance somewhere as this is her favourite dish, along with the restaurant signature steamed fish balls. I can still remember how she would ordered enough food to feed an entire army despite the fact that there's usually only about 6-8 of us. I supposed this is her way of showing how much she loves us...'it's good food so you got to eat more...have some' she would say, while trying to pampered us and stick food onto our plates.
This smoky shu mai is, I suppose a tribute to my dear nan.... it is a fusion version of the traditional dish, give a modern twist with the addition of chipotles en adobo in the filling and paired with the bright green broth. A drizzle of the chilli oil just make this a beautiful dish that not only looks great for dinner party but also packed full of flavour ....I'm sure my nan will approved.

(Serves 4)

For the Broth

2 tbsp groundnut or sunflower oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
450ml chicken stock
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
400g peas, fresh or frozen
500g spinach leaves, well washed
50g unsalted butter

For the Filling

450g minced pork
6 large raw king prawns, shelled, deveined and roughly chopped
1tbsp chipotles en adobo
1 medium free range egg
4 spring onions, green parts only, thinly sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
Seas salt and freshly ground black pepper

12 square wonton wrappers (available in all good chinese supermarket)
4tsp chilli oil, for garnish (I've used Japanese chilli oil here but you can easily make this at home by gently heat up 1tsp of cayenne pepper and 3 tbsp of olive oil in a small pan and leave to cool)

To make the broth, heat up the oil in a medium pan over medium heat.  Add the onions and garlic and sauté for 7-8 minutes, until the vegetables are soften. Add the stock and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Increase the heat and bring to a boil. Add the peas and spinach and immediately remove the pan from the heat. This helps to retain the bright green colour of the broth. With a hand blender, puree the mixture. Add the butter and puree until very smooth. Season to taste and keep warm.

To make the filling, combined the pork, prawns, chipotle, egg, spring onions, olive oil in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

To form the shu mai, hold a wanton wrapper in one hand. PLace about 1/2 tablespoon of the filling in the centre of the wrapper. Bring the sides of the wrapper up around the filling, pleating the wrapper as you go. Tap the dumpling against the work surface to flatten the base. Top with a pea to garnish. Set aside and repeat with the rest. 

Set up a steamer (I'm using the traditional steamer basket here). Lightly oiled the base of the basket to prevent sticking. Add the shu mai, and steam for 8-10 minutes, until they soften and fat gathers near their openings. 

Assemble the dish, reheat the broth if necessary. Divide the shu mai among 4 soup plates. Add the broth, drizzle with the chilli oil and serve.

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