Shaomai is a traditional Chinese dumpling served in dianxin / dim sum.

There are two regional varieties of shaomai: a Cantonese version and a version from the Jiangnan region.

Cantonese shaomai (also known as siew mai)


As prepared in Cantonese cuisine, shaomai is also referred to as “pork and mushroom dumpling.”

Its standard filling is a combination of ingredients, consisting primarily of seasoned ground pork, whole and chopped shrimp, and Chinese black mushroom in small bits. The outer covering is made of a thin sheet of lye water dough. The center is usually garnished with an orange dot, made of roe or diced carrot. Although a green dot made with a pea may also be used. The decorative presentations vary from restaurant to restaurant.

Jiangnan shaomai

Shaomai prepared in the Jiangnan region (south of the Yangtze River, stretching from Shanghai to Nanjing) are quite different.


The wrapper is larger and tougher than the Cantonese version. The filling is similar to zongzi (Chinese-style tamales) with soy sauce/rice wine/sugar-marinated pork pieces in glutinous rice and steamed with some lard. It is larger in size than the Cantonese version.

However, most people in Western countries associate shaomai only with the Cantonese version due to the Cantonese immigrants that formed the majority of Chinese communities. Recently, the Jiangnan version is starting to appear in areas with high-density new immigrants from mainland China, such the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley.

This recipe in this article is the Jiangnan variety. It basically makes use of ground pork, shrimps, and mushrooms as the main ingredients. Try this delicious Shaomai recipe!


  • 2 ½ lbs ground pork
  • 1 cup shrimp, minced
  • 2 cups water chestnuts, minced
  • 5 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup onion, minced
  • 1 cup carrots, minced
  • 1 ½ cups white mushroom, minced
  • 1 pack won ton wrapper
  • ¼  cup scallions, minced
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 1 piece raw egg
  • water for steaming


Cooking procedures:

1. Combine all the ingredients except for the water and wanton wrapper and mix thoroughly.

2. Wrap the mixed ingredients using the won ton wrapper.

3. Using a steamer, steam the wrapped shaomai for 15 to 25 minutes. The time depends on the size of each individual piece (larger size means more time steaming).

4. Serve hot with soy sauce or lemon dip. Share and enjoy!


shāo mài
烧    卖 :    Shaomai          n.

yú  zǐ
鱼  子:    Roe   n.

Hú luó bō dīng
胡     萝 卜  丁:      Diced carrot   n.

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