Black Garlic Shu Mai with Smoked Soy Dipping Sauce
The ingredients in shu mai can vary considerably. We wanted to experiment with an intriguing ingredient that we’ve been enjoying lately: black garlic. We were quite pleased with the results. The complex flavor of black garlic is quite subtle, but it never gets lost in the crowd. While it’s not assertive in flavor, black garlic holds its own quite well against the mixture of traditional Asian seasonings. Sweeter and much milder than “regular” garlic, black garlic doesn’t have the same sharp bite and won’t linger on your breath the way fresh garlic can.
PREPARE THE FILLING:
Put the mushrooms in a small bowl, add boiling water to cover; soak until soft, about 30 minutes. Drain, save the liquid for making soup or your favorite recipe. Squeeze the mushrooms dry. Cut off and discard the stems. Mince the mushroom caps and place them in a mixing bowl. Add the turkey or chicken and all the remaining filling ingredients, and mix well. Let stand for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to marry.
PREPARE THE DIPPING SAUCE:
Place the smoked soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan over moderate heat and bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the scallions, ginger, garlic, sesame oil and chili oil. Cover and set aside.
ASSEMBLE THE SHU MAI:
Place 1 tablespoon of the filling in the middle of a wrapper. If using square wrappers, bring two opposite corners towards the middle, gently squeezing them into place. Now bring the remaining two corners together and squeeze once more to form a wrinkled cup around the filling. (If using circular gyoza wrappers, gather the edges around the filling. Then, holding the little packet in the palm of your hand, lightly squeeze the dumpling between your index finger and thumb to form a sort of “waist”.) Use a teaspoon dipped in hot water to press the filling down so that it is smooth on the top and compact. If you are using peas to garnish each shu mai (highly recommended), lightly press 1 pea into the center. Place the filled dumpling on a lightly floured baking sheet. Cover with a clean towel while you fill the remaining dumplings.
STEAM THE DUMPLINGS:
Fill the bottom of a steamer pot or pan with an inch or two of water – enough to form a generous resevoir of water, but not enough to boil up above the bottom of the steamer. Lightly oil a steamer tray or basket and lower into the pot. Bring to a boil over moderate heat. Working quickly, place the dumplings upright on the steamer basket, a 1/2 inch or so apart. Cover and steam for 5 minutes over high heat. Serve immediately with the dipping sauce.
NOTE: The dipping sauce and filling can be prepared a day ahead, covered and refrigerated. The dumplings can be assembled ahead of time, covered and refrigerated overnight or frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw them in the refrigerator before steaming. You may wish to double this recipe and freeze some for impromptu hors d’oeuvres.