Suzi’s Blog

Shumai or Japanese Shrimp Dumplings from Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking by Masahuru Morimoto

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My local Japanese restaurant is wonderful. I walk in and even before I have sat down, I can hear the bottle of beer being opened and the back a voice in the kitchen shouts, “Shumai! Double order.”

This appetizer is ubiquitous in Japanese restaurants for a very simple reason: utterly and incredibly delicious. Soft flavor bombs. The dumpling wrappers become wonderfully soft as you cook them, letting your teeth slice through the delicate dough. The filling, although there is just bit in each dumpling, is overflowing with flavor. The shrimp provide substance when you bite and their distinctive flavor. But there is so much more than shrimp: onion, mushrooms, bacon, scallions, ginger, and just a little sugar. It’s complex. And, surely for me, it is addictive.

Now, in this brilliantly written recipe from Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking by Iron Chef Masahuru Morimoto, you have techniques to prepare idyllic Shumai at home. I love this book and I can give you a really good reason to buy your own copy: this recipe comes with a two-page spread of photos showing how to fold the dumplings in that very artistic style that epitomizes Japanese cuisine.

Here's my book review of Mastering the Art.


Shumai: Japanese-Style Shrimp Dumplings

Yield: about 20 dumplings

Ingredients:

Equipment:

  • A noncollapsible metal steamer insert or a bamboo steamer and parchment paper or cheesecloth

For the filling:

  • ¾ pound shelled white shrimp, deveined
  • ½ cup diced (about ¼ inch) yellow onion
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • ½ cup finely diced fresh shiitake mushroom caps
  • ⅓ cup diced (about ¼ inch) fatty bacon
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped scallions (white and light green parts)
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tablespoon sake (Japanese rice wine)
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

For the dumplings:

  • 20 shumai skins or “Shanghai-style” round dumpling wrappers
  • 20 fresh or defrosted frozen shelled edamame
  • Vegetable oil
  • Shumai Sauce for serving (recipe follows)

Preparation:

MAKE THE FILLING

Pulse the shrimp in a food processor until you have a very chunky paste. (You can also smash the shrimp one at a time with the flat part of a cleaver, then roughly chop them.) Combine the onion and cornstarch in a medium bowl and toss to coat. Add the shrimp and the remaining ingredients to the bowl with the onion. Stir very roughly with your hands until the mixture is slightly sticky and clumps together, at least 30 seconds.

Steady the bowl with one hand and pick up a big handful of the mixture, then forcefully slap it against the bowl (this removes air and helps give the dumplings a slightly dense texture). Repeat once or twice, then do the same with the rest of the mixture.

FORM THE DUMPLINGS

Line a large plate or tray with parchment paper. Fill a small bowl with water. Form one dumpling at a time, keeping unused wrappers covered with a kitchen towel and transferring the finished dumplings to the parchment paper. (See the step-by-step photos if you have wisely purchased the book!)

Spoon a generous tablespoon of the filling onto the center of a wrapper. Spread it slightly so it sticks to the wrapper, leaving an approximately Winch border. Gather up the edges of the wrapper with both hands so that it resembles a flower. Transfer it to one hand, gently cupping it to stabilize the sides while you use your other hand to gently flatten and compress the filling with a small spoon. Set the dumpling down onto the parchment paper, holding the sides up for a few seconds to help set the shape. Top with an edamame and repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling.

STEAM THE DUMPLINGS

Prepare the steamer, either a pot with a metal steamer insert or a bamboo steamer set over a skillet. If you’re using a steamer insert, rub the surface lightly with vegetable oil. If you’re using a bamboo steamer, line the surface with cheesecloth or parchment paper.

Pour about 1 inch of water into the pot or skillet. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat slightly to maintain a slightly less rapid boil. Add the shumai to the steamer in a single layer, leaving about ½ inch of space between each one. Set the steamer in the pot or skillet, cover, and steam until the filling is cooked through (the shrimp will be opaque with pink patches), about 8 minutes.

Transfer the shumai to a plate and serve with the dipping sauce (see Note).

Note: Shumai can be cooked, cooled to room temperature, and refrigerated (covered) for up to 2 hours. Rewarm in the steamer until heated through, about 4 minutes. Shumai can also be frozen raw in an airtight container and kept up to 2 weeks. Steam directly from frozen until cooked through, about 10 minutes.


Shumai Sauce

Yield: Enough for about 20 dumplings [this recipe!]

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons Japanese soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • Japanese or Chinese mustard paste to taste
  • Asian chile oil to taste

Preparation:

Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, mustard paste, and chile oil in a bowl and stir well.


Source: Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking by Masahuru Morimoto [Ecco, 2016]

 

TBT Recipe: A Sort-Of Turkey Cassoulet

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I posted this idea a few years ago as a way to make a great Friday meal the day after Thanksgiving. More and more, people find turkey to be a year-round pleasure. So, get some cooked turkey breast or even a whole small bird to roast off and make this winter treat. Been skiing? Hungry? Leg in a cast? You need a great meal. And this is it.

Holly calls this a sort-of turkey cassoulet. Not there is any question about the meat: it’s turkey. But the sort-of refers to how true to French cassoulet this American idea actually is. Cassoulet is French originating in the South in the region once known as Laguedoc.

Today, throughout France, you can buy prepared cassoulets in cans and jars in every supermarket, little grocery store, and neighborhood charcuteries. Some French versions require you to add pre-cooked meats — which is just what Holly does suggest here. Classically, to make cassoulet, meat and beans are cooked separately, then combined and covered with an herbed bread crumb topping, and finally given a last hour in the oven to blend and meld.

From yesterday, you have the meat already to go: lots of leftover turkey meat, the darker the better. Cassoulet is rich in flavor, texture and aroma. This meal will be triumph that rivals Thanksgiving, not a post-Thanksgiving minimalist memory. 


A Sort-Of Turkey Cassoulet

Yield: serves 8-12

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound dried Great Northern beans
  • ½ pound bacon slices, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
  • 1 or 2 celery ribs, chopped ½ cup)
  • 1 small carrot, scraped and chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crumbled
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can (about 15 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes, drained
  • 1 pound garlic sausage or kielbasa, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • ⅓ cup dry vermouth or white wine
  • 2 to 3 cups bite-size pieces dark cooked turkey, duck, or goose meat
  • ½ cup dried French-bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces

Preparation:

In a large bowl, soak the beans overnight in enough water to cover them by about 3 inches. Discard any beans that have floated to the surface. Drain and sort out any debris.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a 4-quart Dutch oven or other large heavy ovenproof saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, cook the bacon over medium-high heat until almost crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels and set aside. Pour off all but about 3 tablespoons of the bacon drippings from the pan. Heat the remaining drippings over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, and carrot and cook, stirring frequently, until softened.

Stir in the garlic and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes longer.

Add the thyme, salt, pepper, bay leaf, and the drained beans. Cook, stirring, for about 4 minutes longer.

Stir in the chicken broth and cover the pan tightly. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until the beans are tender.

Stir in the tomatoes, garlic sausage, and vermouth and continue to bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

Stir in the bacon and turkey, sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly over the top of the casserole, and dot with the butter. Return to the oven and continue to bake, uncovered, for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the crumbs are lightly browned and the mixture is bubbly.

Source: Thanksgiving Cookbook by Holly Garrison

Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60mm Macro Lens, F/4.5 for1/560th second at ISO‑1000

 

 

TBT Cookbook Review: American Desserts by Wayne Harley Brachman

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When Suzi and I moved to Tribeca thirty years ago, it was pretty quiet at night. The only place to eat was The Odeon a block away and we soon fell in love with the bistro chicken and the Southern-style desserts. Those desserts, we learned later, were the product of Wayne Harley Brachman who went on to Mesa Grill, other restaurants, television and, of course, writing cookbooks.

This book, American Desserts, from 2003, is about as Red, White, and Blue as the 4th of July at dusk. And filled with as much fireworks, too.

This is a book of, yes, American desserts. The ones you know and love. Plus ones you should know and love. The “lost” or forgotten recipes boldly advertised here include:

  • Vanilla Malted Custard Pie
  • Pineapple Pie with Macadamia Crumb Topping
  • Nectarine-Raspberry Cobbler with Pecan Biscuits
  • Indian Pudding with Cornmeal and Dried Cranberries
  • Berry Slump
  • Applesauce Pie with Cheddar Cheese Pie Shell

Oh, there are more familiar dessert ideas here, like the Chocolate Icebox Cake and Lemon Chiffon Pie. And those recipes all reflect Wayne’s skill at perfecting the classics. But I find this book now to be a seminal survey of the American dessert scene. We rarely indulge in chiffon and custard desserts anymore. But they once weighed down the dinner table, particularly if you grew up in the South, which I’m guessing Wayne did.

The chapters here are home to important though forgotten recipes plus familar ones we still adore:

  • Pies, Tarts & All Sorts of Fillings
  • Cobbler, Buckles Pan Dowdys, and All their Cousins
  • Cakes and Plenty of Frosting
  • Puddings and Custards
  • Doughnuts and Other Fried Doughs
  • Cookies, Brownies and Bars
  • Ice Cream and Sherbet
  • Sauces and Toppings.

Half the book lies in those first three chapters. The pies and tarts are, I suspect, his favorite dessert. It’s hard to make a cake with summer fruit, well, at least not immediately easy. But fruit is happy nestled in the crust of a pie or tart. So peaches, nectarines, cherries, berries, apples and pears all shine here — either solo or in combinations that you may not have experienced. And there are the old-fashioned recipes, like Chess Pie, that everyone knew a hundred or two hundred years ago. Now, we hear “Chess Pie” and shake our heads.

Most of us have had cobbler. But buckles and slump and grump and grunts and other movements and noises may have escaped our tables. Here the subtle differences are defined amidst more flowing fruit flavor.

The cakes appear here with, as advertised, plenty of frosting. There is Wayne’s own version of German Chocolate Cake with coffee in the cake and rum in the frosting. The Devil’s Food Cake is made with, yes, tomato juice although you can defer to buttermilk if fear grabs you. There’s an Applesauce Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting, and a Buttermilk Nectarine and Blueberry Crumb Cake.

The pie and cobbler and cake chapters here can occupy a year’s weekends of happy baking. That leaves the next year for puddings and doughnuts and cookies and ice cream and toppings. American Desserts is full of ideas, distinctively American and outrageously delectable. Find a copy this book and buy some fruit. You’ll soon be in the pie business.

Oh, a “new” copy of this book starts at $146 on Amazon. Suzi and I will make a few of the pies and share the recipes with you. Used copies start at $35 and you’ll probably be springing for one of those. If you make dessert, American Desserts is America First.