Beef Shaomai with Truffle

牛肉松露燒賣 Beef Shaomai with Truffle

Shaomai, or suimai (merely the transliteration from Mandarin “燒賣 shao mai” to English, and Cantonese “燒賣 still same writing but pronounces like “sui mai” to English) refers to the the same type of steamed open dumplings. Shaomai’s origin can be dated back in 13th century in Chinese culinary history. And not just in Dim Sum restaurants, through out China there are different way of eating Shaomai with various fillings wrapped inside. Dim Sum is getting more popular world wide, taking the Cantonese style Suimai (usually wrapped with diced pork, pork fat, diced shiitake mushroom, and shrimp, or crab meat) to the global stage. But if you order a plate of Shaomai in northern China, you usually will be served with Shaomai that has fillings made with stir-fried sticky rice and ground beef (or pork) and diced mushroom or vegetables.


Although there are some variations, a classic filling of Cantonese style Shaomai usually involves mixture of lean, fat pork, lard and shrimps. Many restaurants also make their own wrappers in-house. But if you want to save some time, fabricated wonton wrappers sold in Asian stores do the job just fine. For people who do’t like pork or seafood, I’m showing you a quick way to prepare Shaomai at home with ground beef and wonton wrappers. Let’s get hands on!




  • Ground beef           200g
  • Carrot                     50g
  • *Preserved truffle   10g
  • Salt                         2g
  • Truffle oil                2g
  • White pepper         2g (optional)          
  • Sugar                      6g
  • *Wonton wrappers 15 pieces
  • Ice water (or broth)     60g

*This recipe yields 15 Shaomai. The individual filling is ±25g, and the size of my wrapper is ø 8cm. Using different size of wrappers may yield differently.  

Dipping Sauce:

  • 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp hot water

*The truffle I used here is black Carpaccio di Tartufo from local supermarket, it is summer truffle harvest in northern Italy and preserved in olive oil. The oil will also be flavor enhancer to add into ground beef mixture later. Truffle’s aroma is very delicate and easy to be lost if overcooked. So for the truffle garnish on top of Shaomai, place them only after Shaomai is done steaming and heat is off.

*My usual haunt has only one choice of wonton wrapper, but in some bigger shops, you might see wonton wrappers in different thinness. Choose the thinnest one. However, if unfortunately you can’t find any wonton wrappers, dumpling (or gyoza in Japanese) wrappers can somehow substitute. Luckily dumpling wrappers are round, but they are also thicker than wonton wrappers. You will need to roll on it one by one to achieve roughly 1-2 mm thinness. Be careful if you roll on a pile of dumpling wrappers instead of doing it individually, the wrappers might end up sticking to each other, and it will take more time for you to separate them. Also if you get a frozen pack from store, defrost wrappers in your refrigerator one night prior to making Shaomai. Do not open the package until you are about to start. Because fabricated wrappers are not as moist as homemade ones, if you open the package early, wrappers will dry out easily and tend to have small crack on the edge when wrapping, and it will be hassle to save it.

The Cooking:

    1. Chop finely the carrot, set aside. You might see some recipes suggesting using a food processor to shred ingredients. TIPS: But I recommend that hand cutting is always better than a machine job, if it is to fine chop fillings used in Shaomai or dumplings (Gyoza). Why? Although food processor works way faster, chopping food in machine-speed with multiple blades (even if you use click-on click-off mode) will result in fibers of the ingredient being chopped into very tiny bits and damages the cells through violent motion. You loose the “juice” of your ingredient instantly. The flavor and mouthfeel of the final result, meaning the Shaomai filling will not be as good as you hand chop your carrot here.
    2. Sift truffle slices from jar, chop finely, set aside.
    3. Bring a big bowl, add in ground beef, chopped carrot and salt. Blend the mixture using clockwise motion. Continue blending until you see small pieces of carrot starting to mix with beef, then add in about 1/4 of the ice water (or broth). Blend until mixture fully absorb water and no liquid left in, add another part of water and repeat blending until water is all in the mixture.
    4. Adding salt before starting helps to release myosin and speed up the process to binding all ingredients.
    5. The secret to successfully mix a meat mixture is by stirring only in clockwise (or counter-clockwise) motion
    6. Add water gradually and continue stirring in one direction is the key to create juicy filling.
    7. After 15 minutes of stirring, you can now see changes of the texture. The mixture becomes sticky, easy to form into a ball when you stir it. Some feather-like tissue is visible. It is because myosin, a protein in ground beef, is released through stirring. It is very sticky, hence able to bind all ingredients together. Now add in white pepper, sugar, chopped truffle, mix well.
    8. When you notice more grease attached on the bowl, it is a signal that the stirring is soon to be done. Then it’s time to add in the rest of the seasonings.
    9. Truffle will be the last ingredient to add into the mixture.
    10. Add in 2g of the oil used to preserve truffle from the jar. Mix well, then cover the bowl with cling film, store in fridge for 30 min. This is to allow flavors of all ingredients fully intermingle.  The mixture will also sort of coagulate when cooled down, making it even easier to wrap Shaomai.
    11. Punch out the wonton wrapper with a similar sized round cake mould or cookie cutter. If you don’t have a mould, simply cut off the four corners of the wrapper to form an octagon shape, or use a drinking glass of similar diameter as a guide to cut. But the diameter of the wrapper should not be smaller than 8cm, or it will not be easy to form the shape. TIPS: If where you live has lower humidity (e.g. 25% as what we usually have during winter time in Switzerland), only take out a small amount of wrappers at one time, cut, then store the round ones in a container covered with damp tower to prevent the edge of wrappers drying out quickly.
These are 9 cm x 9 cm wonton wrappers, and my mould is 8cm in diameter. This is not far from a standard Shaomai of 2.5 inches in diameter .  
  1. Now its time to wrap. [And I’m excited!] Take the mixture out from fridge, bring a stuffing spoon. Hold your left pawn up with four fingers forming a little cup. Place a wrapper on “the cup” with right hand, then scoop about a table spoon of mixture onto the center of wrapper with a stuffing spoon. Fold slightly with your fingers allowing wrapper to contact the filling, then circle wrapper with thumb and index finger. Tighten your circle to form the “neck” of your Shaomai, at the same time press down and spread on top with stuffing spoon. This is to create a firm Shaomai filling with smooth top. Besides your thumb and index finger, the other three fingers also gently squeeze and form the Shaomai body. TIPS: An ideal Shaomai stands still, has pleats around its waistline, and filling is up to the very top with a smooth surface. If somehow your Shaomai tilts, that means the filling is not pressed firmly.
  2. In Dim Sum restaurants, a bamboo stuffing spoon is especially made for wrapping Shaomai. You may also see some people forming and pressing Shaomai with fingers. But in order for the Dim Sum Chefs to mass produce Shaomai in timely manner, wrapping Shaomai with stuffing spoon just does the job better and faster.
  3. Bring water to boil before steaming. Prepare dipping sauce.
  4. Place a damp steamer cloth on the steamer, this is to prevent Shaomai skin to stick on. If you don’t have steamer cloth, substitute with cheese cloth or parchment paper (need to make some holes on the paper to allow steam to go through), or even slices of carrot or zucchini (or cabbage leaf, whatever vegetables available in the kitchen). Place Shaomai in bamboo steamer and steam for 7 minutes.
  5. Start steaming only when the water is boiling. Keep boiling throughout the whole process.
  6. Right after you turn of heat, open the lid and place slices of truffle on top of each Shaomai. Close lid, let the residual heat inside of steamer to boost truffle aroma for 1 minutes. Serve with Shaomai in steamer right away and the dipping sauce. Enjoy!



This is a quick video I made when wrapping my first batch of Shaomai.  





Traveling around the world, I’ve seen how those Chinese take out mislead people’s perception about Chinese food. Wok fried, heavy seasoned with soy sauce and MSG, cornstarch thickened at all time is not authentic Chinese cooking. Real Chinese cuisine is mastering selections of fresh ingredients, seasonings, various cooking methods to deliver genuine taste of food that wow your taste buds. I’m no Michelin chef but someone who knows how authentic Chinese cuisine should taste like. Welcome to my dinning table and enjoy the real Chinese food. Bon appétit!