Paleo Rainbow Siu Mai
It’s deafening and chaotic. It’s so rowdy that only isolated words are heard while the rest of the sentence gets drowned out by clattering dishes and the loud chit chat of the neighboring tables. It sounds unpleasant, right? But the truth is, this is one of my most sentimental childhood memories. This was every Sunday enjoying Dim Sum with my family. My grandparents attended Sunday services and afterwards my family would meet at our favorite Dim Sum restaurant for lunch. This is one of the few places where my brother and I bonded with my cousins. After going paleo, I really missed Dim Sum. So I decided to create one of my favorites, a Paleo Rainbow Siu Mai.
What is Siu Mai? Siu Mai is a pork dumpling and one of the most popular Dim Sums. The ingredients include pork, shrimp and shiitakes all wrapped in a thin lye water dough. That is the true anatomy of a siu mai. I have seen some paleo versions of siu mai’s with no wrap. A dumpling without the wrapper is just a meatball. This is no different than calling a ravioli a ravioli without the pasta dough. It just doesn’t work that way. I’m going to make this very clear: I’m not trying to discredit anyone. I just take a very strong stance on this subject matter because it is very personal. Dim Sum is a part of my culture, my childhood and my family traditions. That is why I have created my version of the Paleo Rainbow Siu Mai that stays true to it’s origins. Let’s make these bad boys!
Paleo Rainbow Siu Mai
- 1 Cup – Otto’s Cassava Flour
- ½ Cup – Tapioca Starch
- 1 Cup – Water (Tinted to your liking)
- 1 lb – Pork Country Style Rib (Cleaver Minced)
- ½ lb – Wild Caught Peeled Shrimp (Diced Small)
- ¾ Cup – Re-hydrated Dried Shiitake Mushroom (Diced)
- 2 Tbsp – Green Onion (Diced)
- 2 Tsp – Fresh Ginger (Finely Minced)
- 2 Tbsp – Free Range Chicken Stock
- 3 Tbsp – Coconut Aminos
- 1 Tsp – Toasted Sesame Oil
- ½ Tsp – Ground White Pepper
- 1 Tbsp – Tapioca Starch
- 2 Tsp – Tobiko (Fish Roe)
- Paper Thin Rounds of Carrots
Alright, before we start on the Rainbow Siu Mai, let’s talk ingredients starting with the pork. You can easily buy ground pork for this recipe, but I prefer to cleaver mince my own. Cleaver mincing takes away that mushing/bland texture of machine ground meats. The cut I use is country style ribs. I would pick a fattier cut because the extra fat keeps the dumplings from becoming too dense. Next, we have the shrimp. You can’t make Siu Mai without good shrimp. I prefer whole shrimp with the heads on. A lot of times, when you remove the head, you will find a reddish/orange substance. This is either fat or roe of the shrimp. DO NOT let this go to waste. It has such a great umami flavor! Scoop it out and add it to the filling. The next thing we have is the fish roe/tobiko. Not all fish roe/caviar is created equal. Most of the caviar you see on your California Roll is likely masago. Tobiko and masago maybe visually similar but very different. Here is an article to help bring you up to speed. Enough talk, let’s make some Paleo Rainbow Siu Mai!
I decided to tint my wrappers a different color because I felt that the bland, white color is not very appetizing. That’s why I called this recipe Rainbow Siu Mai. You can tint it however you want. I’ve decided to utilize the natural vibrant colors of red cabbages, spinach and turmeric. I used the natural food coloring in place of the water. I don’t want to prolong this post, so here is a video on how to create the colors. Mix the dough and roll it out on a non-stick silicon mat. I rolled it as thin as possible and cut out individual wrappers with a 3 inch circular cookie cutter. That’s it!
The filling for the Rainbow Siu Mai is beyond easy. I mentioned that I like to use my Chinese cleaver to mince the pork. I start by cutting the country rib into smaller chunks and start rhythmically chopping the meat like I’m trying to tenderize it. When the meat spreads too thin, fold it together and keep chopping. Here is a simple instructional video on how to do it if you are a visual learner. The reason I like the cleaver mince method is because it creates vary sizes in the meat and the texture is a lot less mushy. Mix all of the filling ingredients together. Use your hands and knead the it for 5-7 minutes until it becomes very sticky. Wrap and refrigerate the filling for an hour. This will allow all the flavors to fully collaborate with one another.
Assemble and Cook:
Like above, I am including a video to better explain how to wrap the Rainbow Siu Mai. For a quick explanation, take one of the wrappers and put a heaping tablespoon of filling in. Fold the sides up and leave the meat exposed on the top. You will want to form the dumpling by forming an “O” with your thumb, index and middle finger. Here is the video that gives you a visual on how to wrap siu mai. After assembly, I like to use a bamboo steamer. The bamboo steamer is far superior to the modern metal steamers. Why? Bamboo is porous and absorbs moisture. The lid is also weaved together, allowing steam to escape slowly, unlike a metal lid that traps moisture inside resulting in soggy dim sums. I lined the bottom of each Rainbow Siu Mai with a paper tin round of carrot. It serves the same purpose as a piece of parchment paper, to keep the siu mai from sticking. You can line the steamer with cabbages or parchment paper as well. Steam the siu mai for 7-8 minutes or until it is fully cooked. Remove from the heat and top each siu mai with a little bit of tobiko. Be prepared for a chopstick fight like in Kung Fu Panda. There you have it, my Paleo Rainbow Siu Mai. Until next time, eat up my friends!