Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cilantro Shrimp Shu Mai

I've been on a wonton kick lately...well more like "How the heck do I use up this package of 50 wonton wrappers?" and since I discovered the Simply Ming DVD's I'm fixated on doing some Asian Fusion East meets West kind of cooking fueled by the great luck to be living a mere 10 minute bike ride from one of the best Chinese markets outside of Chinatown, New May Wah Market on Clement St. and 8th Avenue. They have quite a selection of weights, shapes and sizes (I like the thin squares) of wontons and eggroll wrappers. Several months ago when I first picked up Sam the Cooking Guy, well the book that is, he had a... hmmnn...I can't really call it a recipe...a tip for baking up wonton wrappers as a cracker for a dip.
Last month when I made White Bean Spread from Super Natural Every Day, the wonton wrappers made the perfect surface/service as they were plain enough not to compete with the dip and sturdy enough not to break in the scooping/spreading process, plus the edges curl up the teensiest bit to form a little square plate.
Next up was another Sammy hit...Raspberry and Cream Cheese Won Tons. You just mix together a softened block (8oz.) of cream cheese with 2 tablespoons of your favorite jam (I used blueberry). Chill it for 20 minutes, spoon 2 teaspoons into the center of a wonton wrapper, wet the edge, fold over and press out as much air as possible, bake on a cookie sheet lined with parchment in a 400 degree oven for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are golden brown, then sprinkle with powdered sugar, let cool for a few minutes and serve with a little scoop of ice cream, or not.
I ixnayed the powdered sugar and instead, sprinkled a little turbinado sugar on top before baking. They were beyond good!
It was only about four days ago I'm watching Simply Ming for the first time.  He's making Shu Mai with his master recipe for Shrimp Mousse. As he demonstrates how to form the shu mai I'm getting all jazzed about how to next use up my won ton wrappers. He recommends buying frozen, cleaned and deveined shrimp. I've never purchased shrimp a market or a restaurant. OK. Done.
I googled shu mai recipes and ended up using one from the New York Times food section. Frozen shrimp purchased and Ming renewed I set off to cook shu mai for the first time ever.
I was fairly impressed with my actual forming of the shu mai, following and replaying...and replaying Mings demonstration. They  actually turned out quite pretty. I gingerly place them in the bamboo steamer, lined with parchment and sprayed with cooking spray, steam for just a few minutes (the shrimp was purchased cooked so I shaved 4 minutes off the instructed cooking time-just enought to get them hot), yet they had totally fallen apart when I lifted off the bamboo lid. Out of about 20 dumplings, only about 8 didn't crumble when I lifted them out of the steamer with my chop sticks.
Lesson learned?
Start with heavier wonton wrappers and if I start with cooked frozen shrimp, they only need to steam for a minute. All in all they still tasted pretty good...even though my sesame oil was really old. Really old. Stay tuned.

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