This post was brought to you by all of the fab food I ate during my trip to Honolulu last month.
One of my favorite things about traveling is going out to eat and getting inspiration from all of the delicious dishes I get to taste in the process. When I was younger, my dad would taste a dish at a restaurant and then, without even asking the server of chef exactly what ingredients were used, go home and recreate the dish perfectly. I like to think I got that skill from him?
Well, whether or not I recreate a dish perfectly back at home, I still have a blast playing around with new flavor combinations that I’ve been inspired by. This Crab and Pork Shumai with Bonito Bechamel was inspired by the Lobster Shumai with Savory Crème Anglaise we had at Lucky Belly on the last night of our trip. I desperately wanted to use lobster in my shumai as well, but hey, this gal is on a budget and couldn’t bear spending $20 on a quarter pound of lobster meat.
So crab meat it was, of course complimented by some ground pork to give the necessary heft to these shumai. For those of you who aren’t familiar with shumai, they are small, steamed Chinese dumplings, usually filled with a combination of ground pork, ginger, green onions, etc. They’re basically a potsicker, just shaped differently. If you’ve ever been to a dim sum restaurant, you’ve likely tasted these or at least seen them making the rounds on those little carts the servers roll around.
At Lucky Belly, they served their shumai as an appetizer, drenched in a delicious, savory Crème Anglaise. I decided to instead make a béchamel for my Crab and Pork Shumai (although the two sauces are very similar) and flavor it with dried bonito flakes (bonito is a type of fish that is a smaller relative of tuna.) If you’ve never heard of bonito flakes and never want to, that’s fine, just leave them out (although you’d certainly be missing out on an awesome flavor bomb.) But, if you’re feeling creative, just click here to order some on Amazon and you’ll have bonito for life (it’s very shelf stable.)
The whole process of making these Crab and Pork Shumai with Bonito Bechamel takes a little bit of time, but there’s nothing too difficult about it. You’ll first want to make your crab and pork filling by simply pulsing all of the filling ingredients in a food processor.
Then you simply lay out your square wonton wrappers (which you can also buy on Amazon if you don’t have an Asian market or Whole Foods near you) on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and start scooping the filling on to them.
Dipping your fingers into a small bowl of water, you’ll then go through and pinch up the sides of each of the shumai, making them look a bit like a drawstring purse.
Traditionally, you would use a bamboo steamer lined with cabbage leaves to cook the shumai, however I used a typical stovetop steamer that I just sprayed with some cooking spray. It worked beautifully!
After a quick eight minutes in the steamer, your Crab and Pork Shumai are done! Then it’s time to make the béchamel.
I used the classic Julia Child recipe as a base for my Bonito Bechamel, which is really quite easy (don’t be intimidated!) The sauce did turn out a tad thicker than I had imagined, but I hear that’s common just based on how you cook it. If your sauce thickens up too much, simply add a tablespoon or so more of milk until you have the desired consistency.
Aside from the basic béchamel ingredients, all you need to do to make this “Bonito Bechamel” is add in a tablespoon of the bonito flakes at the end. It seems simple but, trust me, it will pack a ton of flavor!
And that’s it! Not too bad, right? And oh so delicious. The hubs absolutely went to town on these and I had to plead with him to leave me a few to have for lunch the next day. The savory pork and crab is balanced perfectly with the ginger, onions and other flavorings in the filling, and the Bonito Bechamel is the proverbial icing on the cake.
Crab and Pork Shumai with Bonito Bechamel are the perfect light supper, and would even be a great hors d’oeuvres to bring to any sort of cocktail party. And, if you’re feeling fancy, spring for the lobster! Either way, you’ll want to have this recipe in your repertoire forever and ever and ever…
These little dumplings of deliciousness are chock full of pork, crab and fresh herbs, all topped with a savory bechamel studded with bonito flakes.
- 1/4 pound ground pork
- 1/4 pound lump crabmeat
- 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced (about 2 teaspoons worth)
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 green onions, minced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 tablespoon sake
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Pinch of fresh ground black pepper
- 18 square wonton wrappers
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon bonito flakes
In a food processor, combine pork, crabmeat, ginger, garlic, green onions, cilantro, sake, salt and pepper. Pulse until all ingredients are nicely combined.
Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Lay wonton wrappers in rows on the prepared cookie sheet, then scoop about 1 teaspoon of the pork and crab mixture onto the middle of each wrapper.
Fill a small bowl with water. Dip your fingers in the water and then pinch up the sides of each wonton wrapper, pressing to seal. The top of the shumai will be open, it will look like a little drawstring purse (as you can see in the photos.)
Place a steamer basket over a pan partially filled with water and spray with cooking spray (or line with cabbage leaves, if you have them.) Heat up the water until gently boiling and then place shumai in steamer basket. You will need to steam the shumai in a few batches, they will not all fit at one time (plus, you want some breathing room so you can easily get them out without them coming apart.) Steam each batch of shumai for 8 minutes, or until the pork and crab mixture is cooked through. Remove from basket and begin cooking the next batch.
Once all shumai is cooked, place in a warm spot while you make the béchamel. You can also easily microwave the shumai for a bit once the sauce is ready if they get too cold.
To begin making the béchamel, heat the milk and salt in a small saucepan until gently bubbling. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter, then add the flour. Whisk continuously for about 3 minutes to form a white roux. Remove from heat and, once the roux has stopped bubbling, add the hot milk mixture and immediately begin whisking vigorously.
Set the saucepan back over medium high heat and, continuing to whisk, add in the lemon juice and bonito flakes. Continue whisking until mixture comes to a boil. Cook for one minute and then immediately spoon over the shumai.
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