Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pork and shrimp shu mai with truffles

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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.

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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.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: approximately 2 dozen dumplings


Lo said...

*sigh* Ah, how I love the flavor of truffles. Trufflepalooza would surely take me over the edge.

Love the idea of the dumplings -- and I'll bet the aroma of the hot dumplings with the oil & shaved truffle on top is just intoxicating!

Patti at Camp Blogaway said...

WOW, are those absolutely gorgeous, or what? Hope Trufflepalooza is a giant success, once again.

averagebetty said...

You have inspired me! I've been wanting to make shu mai and you make it sound so easy! Scheming now as to how I can crash Trufflepalooza 2012...

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

I remember Trufflepalooza from last year!

I do a bassapalooza every spring when the bass come into the shallows and we catch lots and lots of them...

Not quite the same, but well, I live in the middle of nowhere!

lynne @ CookandBeMerry said...

Those little shu mai look so delicious. I am really looking forward to the Trufflepalooza this year, because last year was so amazing. And it just gets better!

Jenny said...

Holy, holy cow. Can I fly you to Seattle so we can spend a weekend making dumplings? These would be unbelievable late-night snacks (or really, anytime of day). But Erika - 13 dishes? Are you nuts? I hope so, because I love my crazy friends. Unbelievable inspiration. Very, very nice.

Erika Kerekes said...

Jenny - 16 dishes this year. Me = masochist.

Lynne, I am so glad you're coming. Are you bringing your helping hands early to help? I hope so....

Rocky - I would travel for Bassapalooza!

Lo, Patti, Betty - thanks for the compliments. Show up and you're more than welcome!

Lemons and Lavender said...

Erika, what a pleasure it was to meet you and partake in all of the Trufflepalooza festivities yesterday. The shu mai were my favorite...until I tried the duck confit crepes with truffled balsamic vinegar. Incredible! Honestly, everything was deliciously above par. I tweeted via Instagram photos just about every dish that came out. You can see my stream with the #trufflepalooza hashtag.

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