Bamboo shoots in spring are tender and fresh after the spring shower. Xiasha Shaomai (steamed dim sum) made in Pudong, Shanghai directly uses fresh bamboo shoots and meat as the stuffing to wrap a graceful shape of peach blossom. When cooked, the stuffing and extract are spilling-over and appetizing.
The most critical raw materials of Xiasha Shaomai are bamboo shoots in spring. Earlier bamboo shoots are tough in taste while later bamboo shoots are not fresh enough. So the production time of Shaomai is determined by the natural growth cycle of bamboo shoots in spring. The real tender and fresh shoots only have one to two months of “lifetime”. So the timing for selling Shaomai is different every year and the duration also differs between 45 and 60 days.
Among the stuffing of Xiasha Shaomai, 40% are bamboo shoots. Only tender tops of bamboo shoots are purchased and used on the same day. After being chopped, bamboo shoots are mixed with refined edible oil; although fresh meat accounts for 60%, it serves as auxiliary materials when it comes to taste. Fresh fat and lean met are minced separately and mixed in the ratio of 2 to 8. Finally, few green onion and pork jelly salad will be added to make the stuffing delicious. Only in so doing, the cooked Shaomai offers crisp and tender taste of bamboo shoots and savoury meat.
Besides, there is another better way to satisfy an appetite for good food: eating two bamboo shoot Shaomai and one bean paste Shaomai. Sweetened bean paste is also used as the stuffing of Xiasha Shaomai. Local red beans, together with powder grinded from walnut, melon seeds and dried tangerine, white sugar and refined edible oil are used to make the stuffing, providing a glutinous and sweet taste. Eating together the two kinds, one sweet and one salty, you can have a full and satisfactory feeling.
Every year when Xiasha Shaomai hits the market, peach tree is also in full blossom in Xiasha. Eating Shaomai and enjoying peach blossom are the most pleasant enjoyment of local residents in the spring. It’s probably because of this, Xiasha Shaomai is similar to peach blossom in shape to some degree.
To produce Shaomai similar to the shape of peach blossom, rolling the wrapper is the key. Until now, the wrapper is still hand-made, which is roughly pressed to a round shape, then roll to thick center and thin edge: thick for the center to wrap stuffing and thin edge which shall be not only smooth, but also with wave and bump shape. When putting the stuffing on the wrapper, the worker will slightly nip it in the palm and make a circle, and then the Shaomai is finished. When cooked, the wrapper with the wave shape on the edge is opening up with the steam, naturally showing the shape of peach blossom.
In addition to rolling the wrapper well, steaming is also an important step. First is to boil water; then put Shaomai on the food steamer. 8 minutes high heat is enough, 10 minutes top. Overcooking will make the Shaomai cave in and if undercooked, Shaomai isn’t glutinous enough. Only 8-10 minutes cooking can produce the most beautiful and delicious Shaomai.
20,000 to 30,000 Shaomai are produced every day during the hot sale season. A dozen chefs working together still couldn’t meet the growing demand. Like the annual peach blossom, Xiasha Shaomai calls for a gentle appreciation and enjoyment at the best time.