In China, they use ground pork and sometimes shrimp. However, Indonesia has a very large Muslim population. Both shrimp and pork are considered not halal, or not okay for Muslims to eat.
For siomay, Indonesians replaced the filling with fish and vegetables. The fish used in this recipe is canned mackerel. I also added garlic, carrot, and red cabbage. Traditionally, these dumplings are served with a peanut dipping sauce. No need to make that. Just buy it from the store.
These dumplings are steamed instead of fried. There’s plenty of ways to do that. If you want to be traditional about it, you can buy a bamboo steaming basket. They work for steaming anything else too. Check out my fried tuna dumplings if you want something fried, or my curry guide!
These dumplings are kind of lightly sweet, but they are missing a couple flavors to be complete. For the dipping sauce you serve the siomay with, I think it needs 2 of the 3 flavors: fatty, spicy, or acidic.
What Should I Serve Them With?
If you use the recommended peanut sauce, that takes care of the fat. For acidity, I used lime juice. The dumplings are still good without these. However, adding this extra dimension of flavor will take them to the next level.
Common sides for siomay in Indonesia include: hardboiled eggs, steamed cabbage, and bitter gourd. For a main course, I would stay away from a meat dish. The mackerel has you covered there.
How To Steam The Dumplings
If you are using a bamboo steamer, make sure to line the bottom first. This is really important. Dumplings will stick to the bamboo if nothing is between them. There are liners you can buy, or you can use any leafy vegetable. I used cabbage, lettuce would work too.
You only need about an inch of water. Heat it up until it’s lightly boiling on medium and gently put your steamer in. The water should not directly touch the dumplings. Make sure of that! It should only take 10 minutes, the fish is precooked. When opening, shield yourself with the lid or you will scald yourself a bit.
How To Wrap The Siomay
Siomay are usually open at the top, so you don’t have to use a special folding technique. Keep a bowl of water at your side. Wet your finger and run it along the perimeter of the wrapper. Bring all the edges to the top and make a tiny volcano. Easy!
I think adding a tablespoon of sesame oil would be a good idea. It would provide some fat that the dish is missing before the peanut sauce is added. Some citrus would go well with the fish as well. The juice of 1 lime or lemon would be a welcome addition. Try finely mincing some peppers if you are a spice fan.
You could try adding sugar as well. I know shumai has sugar added, but the siomay tasted sweet enough to me that I thought it wasn’t necessary. Feel free to throw in any veggies you have on hand too!
Can You Freeze Siomay?
I don’t see why not, I know a lot of people freeze leftover dumplings to eat as a snack later. Just don’t defrost them in the microwave at work. The fishy smell will probably make people hate you.
Siomay – Indonesian Mackerel Dumplings
- 1 bamboo steaming basket
- 15 oz mackerel canned
- ¼ red cabbage chopped
- 2 carrots shredded
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- ½ tsp curry powder
- ½ tbsp oyster sauce
- 12 oz won ton wraps
- peanut sauce
- 1 lime sliced
- Chop the cabbage finely. Add it to a mixing bowl. Sprinkle salt over it to wilt the cabbage. Stir.
- Mince garlic, shred carrot, and add to mixing bowl.
- Add mackerel to mixing bowl, crush into pieces if needed.
- Add some more salt, pepper, curry powder, and oyster sauce. Stir thoroughly.
- Put something on the bottom of your steamer so the dumplings won't stick. Either a veggie leaf or a liner.
- Put a spoonful of filling in the middle of your wrapper. Wet the edges of the wrapper, bring them all to the top and press together. Put in the basket and repeat until your are out of filling, wrappers, or room in the steamer.
- Heat an inch of water over medium. Once it starts steaming/bubbling, carefully add your steaming basket. Steam it for 10 minutes, or until wrappers look done.
- Serve with peanut sauce and fresh lime slices and enjoy!