Sheng Jian Bao – Fried and steamed pork dumplings

This delicious street food speciality from Shanghai is crispy and fluffy at the same time, the filling tastes spicy and fresh. Although they are a bit of work, we can only say: it’s worth the effort! The dumplings taste great hot from the pan, but you can even enjoy them cold.

Ingredients for the dough

First, we knead a dough. Using a kitchen machine, we can put all the ingredients in the bowl at the same time and then proceed on a low speed. If you knead by hand, it is best mixing the dry ingredients first and only then add water and oil little by little.

The dough gets the right consistency and elasticity if we work on it for about 10 minutes. This also applies when working with a kitchen machine!

Knead for about 10 minutes

Place the dough in a lightly floured bowl, cover and let it rise in a warm place for at least an hour.

Place a lid on the bowl and let the dough rest in a warm place

In the meantime, make the filling.

Will turn into an aromatic filling

First, chop the spring onions. We can use both white and green parts. Please note that it is important for the consistency of the filling that we chop the onions very finely. The best way to do this is to first cut them in half lengthwise, then into thin strips and finally small pieces.

Practical technique for spring onions

We also chop the coriander and put the minced meat, herbs and spices in a large bowl. We add the finely crumbled stock cube (it will dissolve during later steaming and release additional flavour into the filling and dough), grated ginger and season everything with white pepper. Then we add Shaoxing wine, soy sauce and water.

Ginger needs an efficient grater

Don’t be irritated if the mixture looks too wet at first. The meat will absorb all the liquids. These liquids will ensure that your dumplings taste juicy and delicious, and that your filling will combine into a tasty, uniform mass. No hard chunks of minced meat, but juicy taste instead.

To achieve this, you need to stir the filling in always the same direction with a little patience, either with a wooden spoon or directly with your hands. We recommend that you really only stir and not knead. You will notice that after a few minutes of work, the meat changes its consistency and suddenly starts to combine with the liquid. You’ll know it’s ready when the mince starts to pull light threads and the filling becomes creamy.

Can you see the difference in the consistency?

Now for the creative part! When the dough has doubled in size, you can fold the dumplings.

Doubled in size

A small rolling pin from the Asian shop is best for rolling out the dough, but you may also use a large one. The small rolling pins are cheap and a good investment, especially if you love gyoza and other small Asian dough specialities.

First, we need to get some of the air out of the dough. We roll it out a bit and fold it once. Then we roll it into a rectangular plate.

Make a rectangular plate

We ten roll this plate into a cylinder with our hands. This process serves to easily portion the dough into evenly sized pieces. It also ensures that we end up with nice round dumplings with a spiral-shaped structure, which gives the dumplings a good consistency and a nice appearance.

Helix form

First we divide the roll into four pieces of equal length. Each of these four pieces are devided again into five pieces – which makes twenty pieces in total. Very simple!

We roll out each little helix into a round piece of dough about the size of a palm, which may be thinner at the edges than in the middle. Some extra flour will help but use only as much flour as absolutely needed. The dough is not very sticky, but soft and easy to shape.

Flat and round

Don’t be afraid of folding the dumplings. It is easier than you might think.

You can fit about two heaped teaspoons of filling on a piece of dough, with a little practice even more. Leave the dumpling on the board and form a fold using the edge of the dough with your thumb and forefinger. With the other hand, you add more dough. Stick the folds together and gradually form more folds, enclosing the filling by shaping a little round bag. There will be a small hole in the top centre, which is typical. You can put some sesame seeds in this hole. It looks pretty and tastes delicious.

Looks more complicated than it actually is

Now fry the dumplings first and then steam them, all in one pan. First heat some neutral vegetable oil. You can place the dumplings close together in the pan with the opening facing up – it’s relatively easy to separate them when they’re ready. You could, however, end up with cube shaped dumplings if they limit each other’s space. If you want them to keep their round shape, you will need to give them a little more space as they will rise and get bigger as they steam. So better either fry them in two large pans or do two batches, which is how we did it.

Into the pan

First fry the dumplings until they get a nice golden-brown crust on the bottom.

Golden brown

Then, carefully (hot fat splashes can be dangerous) add hot water so that the dumplings are covered about halfway. Now the steaming process begins. Close the lid and steam over medium heat until the water has completely evaporated, which can take about 10 to 12 minutes.

Steam with the lid on

For the dipping sauce, mix light soy sauce with about a third of rice vinegar. Dark Chinese vinegar would be even better. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any at home, but it tasted sensationally good anyway!

Dipping sauce

Crispy on the bottom, fluffy on top.


And may the taste be with you

Ingredients (for 20 pieces):

For the dough:

300 g wheat flour (type 550 – or all purpose flour)

20 g sugar

150 ml water

2 tsp baking powder

1 sachet of dry yeast (7g)

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp neutral vegetable oil

For the filling:
400 g minced pork
2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine (Shaoxing) – alternatively apple juice (do not use normal wine!)
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp fresh ginger
1 stock cube (chicken stock or beef stock)
1/8 l water
1 bunch finely chopped spring onions
1 bunch fresh coriander
1 tbsp salt
White pepper (ground)

For the sauce:

Light soy sauce

Japanese rice vinegar or dark Chinese vinegar

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