Every July I throw a party called Trufflepalooza. It's an ambitious affair, a loud, cheerful, sweaty tribute to my favorite fungus, the Italian black summer truffle. Last year, with the help of some of my wonderful Los Angeles food blogger friends, I prepared 13 different truffle-laced dishes for 75 people. Cocktails and nibbles, not a sit-down dinner, but still.
This year's Trufflepalooza will be the third, and the menus have grown over the years in both size and complexity. I've got 16 courses on my list. Some are repeats, the greatest hits from years past: radish tartines with homemade truffle butter, open-faced truffled filet mignon sandwiches, truffled egg salad. But I feel the pressure to come up with some new ideas.
My husband gets all the credit for these truffled pork shu mai. When he suggested this combination, I pushed back hard. Not because I didn't think it would work - I knew it would - but because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to execute. Asian cooking is not my strong suit. I thought my dumplings would look funny, fall apart, stick together. And the idea of shaping and squeezing 200 or more fussy little dumplings: oy gevalt, to quote my late Grandma Rose.
But Michael insisted. And he was right. I took a deep breath, bought the ingredients and tested a batch last weekend. Um....WOW. Ground pork and shrimp, a little crunch from chopped water chestnut, and the essence of black summer truffle, all steamed in a paper-thin wonton wrapper. I grated some fresh black truffle, mixed it with a few drops of truffle oil, and put a pinch on top of each dumpling. I'm pretty hard to please when it comes to truffle stuff, and I'm telling you, these dumplings blew me away.
The truffle guy liked it too. Sabatino Tartufi is graciously providing all the fresh truffles and truffle products for this year's Trufflepalooza, and Sabatino's guy in L.A. stopped by to drop off a few nuggets for me to play with (I mean, test recipes). He stood at the kitchen counter with us and sampled the shu mai. He seemed pleased. And you have to believe that this guy knows his truffles.
Note: don't fear the dumpling. This kind, in particular, is easy to shape and fairly forgiving for clumsy cooks like me. You'll find shu mai or wonton wrappers in the Asian section of most grocery stores - either square or round works.
Pork and shrimp shu mai with truffles
Asian dumplings with a twist make an elegant one-bite nibble. Serve in Chinese soup spoons if you have them.
- 1/2 pound ground pork, not too lean
- 1/4 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 raw egg white
- 1 5-ounce can water chestnuts, drained
- 1/8 tsp truffle salt
- 2 tsp white or black truffle oil, divided
- 2 dozen wonton or shu mai wrappers, round or square
- 1 tsp fresh black truffle, grated (optional)
In a food processor, combine the pork, shrimp and egg white. Process until mixture is fairly smooth. Dump pork mixture into a mixing bowl.Put the food processor back together and add the water chestnuts. Pulse just until the water chestnuts are chopped - not huge chunks, but you still want them to have some texture. Add the water chestnuts to the bowl with the pork along with the truffle salt and 1 1/2 tsp of the truffle oil. Using your hands, mix everything together until it is well combined.Hold one wonton wrapper in the palm of your hand. Put about a tablespoon of the filling in the center. Make a circle with your thumb and forefinger and gently push the filling down through the circle while you gather the sides of the wrapper casually around the filling. The top of the dumpling will be open. Give the sides a little squeeze and the top a little pat, then tap the dumpling on the counter to flatten the bottom. Set aside and continue in the same way with the rest of the filling and wrappers.Line a steamer basket with parchment paper or lettuce leaves, then put one layer of dumplings in, making sure they aren't touching. Set the steamer over a shallow pan of simmering water and cover. Steam for 10 minutes to cook the filling through. You'll have to do this in batches.While the dumplings are steaming, mix the grated fresh truffle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of truffle oil. Serve the dumplings hot out of the steamer with a pinch of the fresh truffle mixture on top.
DetailsPrep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: approximately 2 dozen dumplings