Friday, January 27, 2012

Chrysanthemum, Chinese Delicacy Siew Mai


( My daughter G gave me this stalk of Chrysanthemum on Chinese New Year. Actually She gave me two other flowers. )

Last night, at our social Lunar New Year Function, Siong asked what flower signifies Chinese New Year. I didn't know except I was told by the Singaporeans that on the 1st and 15th, they used it to place on their altar of the Ancestors' worshipers. Once, I bought some not on these 2 days, because I fell in love with Chrysanthemums when I was at the winter gardens in Auckland, the florist explained to me.

With an auspicious meaning for Chinese New Year, the Chrysanthemum symbolises perfection, optimism and joy. To some it is an object of meditation. Usually in yellow and orange, it comes in small and big blooms, beautifying the garden or the living room.

Making Siew Mai.

When I was growing up in Sibu, Borneo, we didn't have Dim Sum or Yum Char. As kids, we longed for one dish when we went for wedding or birthday banquets. It was the Siew Mai in my Cantonese dialect. Most of the restaurants were Foochows, I am not sure Siew Mai was a Cantonese specialty or a Foochow's. It is also called Sio Bee.

Later, my mum visited Singapore, and came back with the Har Gow, the translucent prawn Dim Sum. She was so good that she gave cooking demonstrations when she was the Deputy leader of the Women's Institute and Patron of the Girl guides.

The Har Gow remains our family's favourite. Partly because it was Mum's. It is extremely difficult to make. In my adult life, I made it only once. I refused to make them again because the water engineer walloped them before I could come out with the next batch. He claimed that I should feel privileged that he appreciated them so much as they were so delicious. I did not revel in flattery.

But with Siew Mai, it is by far much easier to make. Tonight, the Mt Albert Baptist Church Chinese Fellowship is celebrating Chinese New year. For a change, instead of cooking my curry, I am making Siew Mai. I haven't made them for a long time, as I had learn in cooking school, I must not say, " I haven't made them before." I am going to be bold.

Ingredients :

800 gram of ground meat (pork or chicken)
200 gram of shrimp (roughly chopped)
6 dry wood fungi (soak and cut small)
6 dry shitake mushroom (soak still soft and diced small)
4 stalk of spring onions - finely chopped
2 eggs
4 tsp of corn starch
1 tbsp of oyster sauce (Optional)
1 tbsp of soy sauce (optional)
1 tsp of sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp salt.
1 tsp of sugar.

60 pieces round dumpling wrappers, these are ready made Jiao Ji Dumplings that the Northern Chinese use. (You can roll them out yourselves,)
some green peas or grated carrot (for garnish)

1) Mix all the ingredients for the filling.
2) Cover with glad wrap, Chill for 30 minutes.
3) Spoon one teaspoon of filling in the middle of the wrapper.
4) Thinly grease the plate you are going to place your Siew Mai to steam.
5) An important step as this stops the Siew Mai from sticking to the plate.
6) Shape the wrapper up around the filling with a small space at the top.
7) Sit the Siew Mai flat at the bottom.
8) Press a green pea on the top of half the Siew Mais.
9) Press some finely shredded carrot on the top of the other half.
10) I use a rack and a special tray with holes the Chinese use for steaming.
11) Steam over high heat for 12 minutes.
12) Serve warm with chili sauce. I prefer the Thai sweet chilli sauce for chicken.
13) Arrange them alternately, one green one orange for nice presentation, and the small bowl of chilli sauce in the middle.

Verdict: All 60 Siew Mais were gone in a flash!

Comment: I think the authentic Siew Mais were made with crab roe instead of grated carrots. I wasn't going to use crab roe because I might get people say, "what's that? I am not going to eat crab roe." Besides, I am too stingy to use expensive crab roe.

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magchewchia said...

fLooks so yummy....I will definitely try out your recipe and let you know if I am successful :-) My son Ambrose loves siew mai! lov Lee

Jama said...

That flower sure look pretty, slightly different from the usual Chrysanthemum we see here in Singapore.
I love siew mai too, and made them several times for the family but of course using beef instead of pork! :P

gengen said...

The flower is very pretty...Mine is up too.

Ginny Hartzler said...

slestThese look hard and tricky to make, also time consuming! You have made them very pretty, there must be a knack to it. The chrysanthemum picture, the angle you snapped it, it looks giant, so pretty!

The JR said...

Beautiful flower.

I'd like to try some of those!