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Siu Mai

(Pork and Shrimp Dumplings)

February: Asian Lunar New Year

While out running errands in Hawaii, Islander would sometimes stop in at the nearest 7-Eleven convenience store/gas station to grab a quick snack and fuel up for the road. She would forgo the hot dogs and choose either a manapua/char siu bao or Hawaiian pork hash/siu mai to go with a strawberry Slurpee. One would not normally think that these popular dumplings, which are traditionally rolled out in carts at Chinese/Vietnamese dim sum restaurants, could be found at a grab-and-go shop. But hey, dis is Hawaii nei—and da locals love ’em.

There are not too many 7-Eleven stores in the Texas town where we live. And they understandably sell taquitos instead of Asian dumplings. So Islander makes and freezes her own siu mai. They are ready to steam anytime as snacks/appetizers for when she craves them, when we have company or when we want to celebrate the lunar new year. It’s worth a try to make some siu mai!

Recipe

(Adapted from AllRecipes.com)

Ingredients

  • ½ pound ground pork
  • ½ pound shrimp, shelled/deveined/minced
  • 2 egg whites
  • ¼ cup water chestnuts, chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons green onion, chopped (green parts only)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons oyster sauce
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • round dumpling wrappers, defrosted and separated
  • frozen peas and carrots (optional garnish)

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the ground pork and minced shrimp with the egg whites.

Add the water chestnuts, green onion and garlic. Add the cornstarch and mix well. Add the soy and oyster sauces.

Sprinkle in the sugar, salt and ground pepper. Stir in the sesame oil and mix until the filling is well combined. In the middle of a dumpling wrapper, generously scoop a rounded tablespoonful of filling. Make a circle with thumb and forefinger and cradle the siu mai between the fingers to form its round shape and flatten the bottom.

Let it sit back on a flat surface and pleat the sides. Place in a mini muffin tin to hold its shape. Continue making the rest of the siu mai. Top the middle of the dumplings with pea or carrot.  Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes to let the filling set and keep its shape.

Line the bottom of a bamboo steamer basket with waxed or parchment paper. Brush a little oil on it. Arrange some siu mai in the basket, leaving some space between them so they do not touch each other (they expand slightly while cooking so the spacing helps to prevent from sticking). Cover and place in a wok that has been filled with a water bath (do not let the water touch the bottom of the steamer basket). Steam for 30 minutes. Remove the covers and carefully remove from the waxed or parchment paper. Serve hot with soy sauce.

Notes

  • Chinese dumplings, such as siu mai, are auspicious foods for the lunar new year. The pastry wrapper represents a container or bag. The pork filling represents abundance (as pigs are big) and luck ahead (as pigs hoof forward and not backward). Hence, may your purse always be filled with a lot of wealth for the coming year.
  • Look for more lunar new year food recipes on our blog by searching under Theme Menus.
  • Kung hee fat choy!

Engagement Chicken

March 20: National Proposal Day

Is the way to a prince’s heart through his stomach? Many have speculated that American actress Meghan Markle’s roast chicken dinner impressed Prince Harry of Wales so much that he proposed to her!

Other women have claimed that when they cooked a heartwarming lemony-herbed roast chicken for their boyfriends, they finally proposed, too. The “magical” recipe, which originated from Glamour magazine in the early 2000s, earned a reputation for its power it has over guys to “pop the question” and thus has been dubbed “engagement chicken”!

Believe the sexist tale or not, engagement chicken is still a tasty comfort food that is relatively simple to make for loved ones. Whether for a prince, significant other, family or friends, roast chicken is perfect to cook any day but especially on National Proposal Day.

Recipe I

This is the version we adapted by Chef Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, which Meghan Markle alluded to in her BBC interview, stating that she and Prince Harry cooked it together for dinner the night he proposed to her.

Ingredients

  • 1 (5-6 pound) whole roasting chicken
  • salt and pepper
  • bunch of fresh thyme
  • 2 lemons (one cut in half, another cut in wedges)
  • 1 head of garlic, cut in half crosswise
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced thick
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2-3 tablespoons flour

Directions

Remove the giblets from the chicken and rinse inside and out. Pat dry with paper towels. Generously salt and pepper inside of the chicken. Stuff it with half a bunch of thyme. Place two halves of a lemon and garlic inside of the chicken.

Put on a roasting pan. Rub the skin of the chicken with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Tie the chicken legs with cooking twine. Secure the wing tips to the chicken with toothpicks. Place in a large roasting pan. Put onion and lemon wedges around it.

Bake in a preheated oven at 425 degrees F for 1½ hours until juices run clear. Baste occasionally. Remove from the oven and cover with foil while making the gravy.

Remove twine and toothpicks. Discard the garlic, thyme stems, fat and lemon halves and wedges (and seeds) from the roasting pan, reserving the onions and two tablespoons of juices. Place the onions and juices into a saucepan with the chicken stock. Boil on high heat for about five minutes until reduced. Then stir in the flour and boil for a few more minutes until slightly thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste. Strain the gravy into a boat. Serve hot with carved chicken pieces.

Recipe II

This is the version we adapted that originated from Glamour magazine and became an urban legend.

Ingredients

  • 1 (4-5pound) whole roasting chicken
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 3 large lemons)
  • 2-3 additional lemons
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • sprigs of fresh herbs to garnish (rosemary, thyme, sage and parsley)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Remove the giblets from the chicken and rinse inside and out. Pat dry with paper towels. Rub the lemon juice inside and outside. Season the inside with half the salt and pepper. Prick the lemons with the tines of a fork and insert inside the cavity of the chicken. Tie the legs with cooking twine.

Secure the wing tips to the chicken with toothpicks. Season the outside with the remaining salt and pepper. Place in a roasting pan lined with foil breast side down. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake the chicken for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, turn the chicken over breast side up and insert a meat thermometer in the thigh. Bake for another 1½ hours or more in 15-minute increments and until the thermometer reaches 180 degrees F.

Remove from the oven and baste with the pan juices. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes and transfer to a platter. Garnish with herbs. Serve hot with sides of roast vegetables.

Notes

  • The pan drippings from the engagement chicken used to baste and flavor this tender and tasty dish is called the “marry me juice”, according to Glamour magazine.
  • We garnish the engagement chicken with sprigs of herbs, roast vegetables (like carrots and potatoes) and/or extra lemon wedges. It makes for a pretty presentation especially for special occasions.
  • We like to serve engagement chicken to the couples we are sponsoring at our church through a marriage preparation ministry program. The dish is well liked by many, even by those who are picky eaters. Our couples enjoy hearing about the recipe’s reputation as well, and is a fun icebreaker and conversation starter for our meetings.