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Open-Face Steamed Dumplings (Shao Mai)

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp hot water, plus 2 tsp hot water

5 oz regular or firm tofu, mashed
1 1/2 tsp Tientsin preserved cabbage, minced (packed)
1 Tbsp presoaked and minced tree ears
1 Tbsp presoaded and minced lily buds
3 Tbsp black or shiitake mushrooms, presoaked and minced
1 1/2 tsp green onion, minced
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp vegetable oil
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp soy sauce

3 Tbsp water chestnuts, minced
3 Tbsp black mushrooms, minced, presoaked
3 Tbsp bamboo shoots, minced
3 Tbsp carrot, minced
2 tsp green onion, minced
1/2 tsp gingerroot, minced
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp sesame oil

To prepare wrappers, combine flour and hot water. Knead a couple
of minutes into a smooth dough; cover and let rest at least 1 hour.
Place on a lightly floured board, and knead for 2 minutes or so.
With palms of your hands, roll it into a long, cylindrical shape,
7-1/2 inches long, 1 inch in diameter. Cut crosswise into 1/2-inch
pieces; you will have 15. If your climate is dry, keep the dough
covered. Shape these, cut-side up, into a round shape. Flatten them
with the palm or heel of your hand on a flour-dusted board. With
a pastry roller, small rolling pin, piece of dowel, or even an
empty jar, all of these should be wielded under the palm of your
hand, roll each into a round wrapper, 3-1/2 inches in diameter,
thicker in the center, thinner toward the edge. This is easily
done by rolling the pastry roller from the edge of the piece of
dough to the center, and back again, turning the dough counterclockwise
a little with your left hand after each roll. Continue all the
way around several times, also turning the dough over once or twice,
until you have a thin, 3-1/2 inch wrapper.

Prepare Filling A or B by combining the ingredients. Place
approximately 1 tablespoon filling on the center of each wrapper.
Holding the wrapper on your left fingers, encircle it from below
with your right thumb and index finger, gathering the wrapper up
around the filling. Squeeze gently around the middle to make a
kind of neck; some of the filling should emerge at the top. The
bundle should hold together securely or it will collapse during
steaming. Pat the bottom with your left hand to make a flat base.
If the skin is not too floppy, you can also turn the edge slightly
outward (like an open flower), pinching it if necessary to make it

Place a layer of damp cloth in a bamboo steaming basket or on a
flat, perforated race (you can use a heatproof plate if you have
neither of these, but circulation of steam is somewhat impaired
this way). Arrange the shao mai on it. With the rack well above
the boiling water in a steamer, steam for 10 minutes (if frozen,
do not defrost first). They will stick to the cloth, but if you
wash and reuse the same cloth each time, they will not stick as

Serve while still hot, before the skin hardens, as is, or with
small dipping saucers of soy sauce and mushroom liquid (from the
black mushrooms), mixed in equal proportions. Add a few drops of
sesame oil.


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