Name, Meaning, and Etymology
The shumai is a purse-shaped pork dumpling (also commonly spelled shaomai, shui mai, shu mai, sui mai, shui mei, siu mai, shao mai, siew mai, or siomai) that translates from the original Cantonese as “to cook and to sell,” simply stating that the dumpling is primarily prepared in a restaurant as opposed to in the home. Shumai is also said to be named because it is “never left unsold” (Lo 376). The traditional Chinese characters for Shumai are 燒賣, while the simplified characters are 烧卖. It is common for the name of a Chinese dish to come from the method of preparation, ingredients, appearance, flavor, shape, texture, or a number association (Junru 102).