Shumai 烧卖

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 , while the simplified characters are . 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).