Chrissy Camba (@chrissycamba) is the Owner/Chef of Maddy’s Dumpling House in Chicago. Shortly after graduating from Loyola University with a degree in biology, Chrissy fell in love with cooking. In a very “Sliding Doors” twist, she was asked to stage in a kitchen and later offered her first kitchen job. After many accolades, a Top Chef competition, and the passing of her bunny, Maddy, Chrissy started Maddy’s Dumpling House. Currently, Maddy’s Dumpling House “pops up” once a month around Chicago until Chrissy can find a permanent brick and mortar space to call home. 

By Chrissy Camba

Dumplings have been a part of my life since I can remember. I would find them floating in soups, looking like wrinkled brains, deep-fried in tight rolls filled with ground meat, steamed/fried/pan-fried racing around me on little metal carts that periodically stopped by the table with a person quickly covering and uncovering this precious gems. My favorite has always been shumai (also spelled siomai/shaomai/siomay depending on the country). They are steamed, usually in a chicken-yellow wrapper, opened at the top, and filled with ground pork and shrimp. Sometimes you’ll see them with orange flying fish roe or brunoise carrots on top. I like to think of them as pork and shrimp meatballs snuggled in a blanket.

For beginners, I recommend going to your nearest Asian market and buying the wrappers. Is it cheating? Of course. But you want to get everything else right before you delve into making the wrapper.



  • 1 yellow onion, cut into brunoise
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons Chinese chives, chopped
  • 1 pound pork shoulder, ground (or you can buy ground pork, but I think grinding the pork makes a huge difference)
  • 8 ounces head-on, shell-on shrimp, peeled, deveined, heads removed (save the heads and shells for a future stock), and chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon sherry (or any other alcohol you have on hand that goes with shrimp)
  • 1 package round dumpling wrappers
  • vegetable oil or spray
  • Dipping sauce of your choice (I prefer hoisin)
  1. Sauté the onion, garlic, and chives in oil until the onions are translucent. Cool.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the ground pork, chopped shrimp, sautéed onion/garlic/chives, white pepper, salt, cornstarch, and sherry. Mix until slightly sticky.
  3. Take a little of the filling and cook off a taste. This is important. You can’t add additional seasoning once the dumpling is formed. Adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  4. Place a large dollop of filling in the center of a wrapper. Do this for all the wrappers you have.
  5. Dip your forefinger into a bowl of water and wet the outer edge of each wrapper. Do them one at a time.
  6. Push the wrapper up the sides, leaving the filling exposed at the top.
  7. Line a steamer with parchment paper circles. Grease with cooking spray or lightly oil.
  8. Place the dumplings on the parchment, making sure not to touch the dumplings.
  9. Steam until the filling is firm when you squeeze the sides of the dumpling.
  10. Serve with your choice of dipping sauce.

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© 2015 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2015 Donna Turner-Ruhlman. All rights reserved.


17 Wonderful responses to “Shumai”

    • Lynn

      if it was anything except pork and shrimp, it wouldn’t be shui mai. It would be another dumpling entirely.

    • Chrissy

      Hi Chas!
      If you want to make it in this type of “style” (dumpling open at the top) and maybe you’re eating kosher or are allergic – you can do chicken, turkey, veal, maybe beef. The texture will change depending on which protein you use. I would try a mix of chicken and turkey OR veal and beef. You need to make sure there is enough fat in the mix so it doesn’t get wonky texturally. You might have to add an egg. I hope this helps out a little! 🙂

  • Alison

    Why does it call for head-on, shell-on shrimp if you don’t use the heads or the shells? I know it can be an indicator of quality, but that really seems a little bit silly. I’d probably buy them without, but then that throws off the weight measurement given.

  • Matt

    I could be wrong, but I’m guessing a ratio of 2:1 is what she’s looking for, pork to shrimp.

  • Chrissy

    Alison – I like getting the head on/shell on shrimp bc I like making shrimp stock or shrimp oil for future use.

    Matt is right when he says I am looking for a 2:1 ratio. There is a little bit of wiggle room. So, getting 8oz of shrimp no head will not effect the texture.


  • Bruce Harlick

    Thanks for the recipe and the memories. In the early ’70s, my parents took Chinese cooking lessons for a few years (until their instructor opened the best Chinese restaurant in the area and stopped teaching) and I have very fond memories of their “shumai stuffing parties” from that period. They and another couple would get together to make trays and trays of these things that they would then freeze, to be used later as hors d’oeuvres. Good and flavorful times!

    • Chrissy

      Thanks Bruce for liking the recipe! This is my favorite dumpling to make and eat. They’re like really tasty meatballs in a blanket. And, they’re easy. The filling freezes really well if you don’t want to stuff the wrappers at that moment. They also reheat really well if you’ve cooked off more than you can eat. 🙂 I kinda want to have a “shumai stuffing party” now.

  • Daphne

    Approximately how long to steam the Shumai before they will feel firm? I just want to make sure I’m not under cooking the food.

    • Chrissy

      Hi Daphne!
      If your steamer is going, about 7-10 minutes. But, I would still check it. Gently squeeze the sides and it should feel very firm. The best way to tell if they’re done is to cut one in half, check it and eat it. Both halves, lol. 🙂 I hope this helps!

  • Jacqueline church

    Mushrooms are a welcome, and not atypical, addition to shiumai. You could try ground turkey, black mushroom, shredded napa, even shredded carrot – or a combo. When adding cabbage, be sure to shred, salt and then rinse and squeeze to remove excess water. Michael’s straining cloths are perfect for wringing out excess water.

  • Allen

    I think Ming Tsai had a similar recipe, very authentic and a favorite. Called Lions head, used in a soup, as I recall.
    I also like an Italian version, using braised meat for the filling and ravioli for the shell.

    • Chrissy

      Lion’s Head is super cool and really tasty! I just made Lion’s Head for Chinese New Year’s Eve. It’s like a seared then braised meatball (no wrapper) with cabbage or bok choy arranged to look like a lion’s mane. 🙂

  • Calvin

    rhose dumpling looks great and it looks like it was made with passion and heart. That’s make a good chef become a great chef. When they cook with passion, loving and when it comes from the heart. Keep it up and soon you’ll be know around the world.

    • Chrissy

      Thank you Calvin! Your words mean a lot to me and I really appreciate that you notice how much I love dumplings. I’m sure I’ve mentioned it, but these dumplings are really tasty. I like dipping them in a hoisin sriracha mix, but you can dip them in your favorite sauce. 🙂

  • Bob

    Chrissy, thanks for your words about dumplings (Mom used to enlist us kids to fold won ton) – apart from making me hungry for shumai, it really just hit all those nice memories of growing up.