Exploring the Differences Between Shumai and Dumplings: What Sets Them Apart?

I love trying out new cuisines and dishes, and Asian cuisine has always had a special place in my heart. One thing that I’ve noticed while exploring the multitude of dishes and flavors of Asia is how similar some dishes look, taste, and even sound. Specifically, shumai and dumplings are two such dishes that always seem to be confusingly similar yet distinctly different. So, what exactly is the difference between shumai and dumplings?

For starters, both shumai and dumplings are delectable finger foods that have their origins in different parts of Asia. Shumai originated in China and is made with a thin wrapper that is shaped like an open-faced purse. It is typically filled with a blend of meat (usually pork, chicken, or shrimp), mushrooms, and seasonings. On the other hand, the dumplings come from a vast region known as the Silk Road. Dumplings are made with thicker, round wrappers that are folded into a half-moon shape. The filling can be pretty much anything – from meat and vegetables to seafood and cheese.

When it comes to the cooking process, shumai and dumplings have different preparation methods that give each dish its unique texture and taste. Shumai is traditionally prepared using a steamer, and the result is a juicy and tender filling with a lightly chewy wrapper. On the other hand, dumplings are cooked through boiling or steaming methods, resulting in a softer, almost melt-in-your-mouth texture. Ultimately, while both shumai and dumplings look similar, the differences in origin, ingredients, and cooking methods make them distinctly different dishes altogether.

Varieties of Dumplings Worldwide

Dumplings, globally, are one of the most beloved comfort foods ever created. Simple in construction yet packed with flavor, these little pockets of goodness can be found in every continent and come in countless variations. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular varieties of dumplings worldwide:

  • Chinese Dumplings: Probably the most common of all the dumplings, they can be boiled, fried, or steamed. They are usually filled with minced meat or vegetables and served in soy sauce or chili oil. Some other popular Chinese dumplings include xiaolongbao and jiaozi.
  • Japanese Gyoza: Similar to Chinese dumplings, Gyoza is usually filled with ground pork and cabbage, pan-fried on one side, and presented with a tangy dipping sauce.
  • Korean Mandu: A filled, steamed or boiled dumpling with various fillings such as beef, pork, or kimchi. Often served with spicy dipping sauce.
  • Polish Pierogi: Pierogi is half-moon-shaped dumplings made with unleavened dough and filled with everything from savory fillings like potato, sauerkraut, and cheese to sweet delights like blueberries and strawberries.
  • Italian Ravioli: Filled with cheese, meats, and vegetables, ravioli originates from Italy and is often served with a tomato-based sauce or broth.
  • Indian Samosas: Shaped as a pyramid, samosas are made with flour and filled with various vegetarian or meat mixtures flavored with spices. Samosas may be baked or fried and are usually served with chutneys or sauces.

The Top Varieties of Dumplings Worldwide

While dumplings come in countless varieties, some have become more famous than others, known for their unique fillings, shapes, or cooking methods. Here are the most popular types of dumplings eaten worldwide:

Dumpling Country/ Region of Origin
Xiaolongbao China
Gyoza Japan
Pierogi Poland
Ravioli Italy
Mandu Korea
Samosas India

Whether you’re craving something savory or sweet, hot or cold, there’s a dumpling out there for everyone. With such a range of varieties and textures, these delicious bites are already conquering the world – who knows what inventive combinations can be expected in the future!

Origins of Shumai and Dumplings

Shumai and dumplings are two of the most iconic types of Asian cuisine, with roots that date back hundreds of years. Each of these dishes has a unique history and distinct flavor profile, making them a favorite meal for food enthusiasts all around the world.

  • Origins of Shumai: Shumai, also known as siu mai, is a type of traditional Chinese dumpling that is believed to have originated in the province of Hohhot during the 19th century. The dish was first introduced to Hong Kong in the 1920s and quickly became popular due to its unique blend of flavors and textures. Shumai is filled with a mixture of pork, shrimp, and other seasonings and is typically served steamed or fried.
  • Origins of Dumplings: Dumplings, on the other hand, have a much longer history and are believed to have originated in China over 1,800 years ago. They were originally served as a way to preserve meat and other ingredients during the winter months and were typically boiled or steamed. Eventually, dumplings became a popular food item throughout China and made their way to other Asian countries such as Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. Today, dumplings are now a staple food in many parts of the world and are enjoyed in countless variations.

Regional Variations of Shumai and Dumplings

As these dishes began to spread throughout Asia, many different regional variations emerged. Each variation has its own unique flavor and cooking method, making them a delicious and fascinating study in culinary diversity.

In Japan, for example, shumai is known as shumai, and it is typically served steamed instead of fried. Meanwhile, in Taiwan, shumai is often stuffed with bamboo shoots, eggs, and mushrooms to create a delicious vegetarian version of the dish. The Japanese also have their own take on dumplings with gyoza, which are known for their crispy exterior.

In China, dumplings come in various shapes and sizes and can be filled with almost anything. In the northern parts of China, dumplings are typically boiled and served with a soy-vinegar dipping sauce. In the south, dumplings are often smaller and are typically filled with pork and seafood.

Comparison Table: Shumai vs. Dumplings

Attribute Shumai Dumplings
Origin Hohhot, China China (over 1,800 years ago)
Filling Pork, shrimp, and seasonings Varies depending on region; typically pork or seafood
Cooking Method Steamed or fried Boiled, steamed, pan-fried, or deep-fried
Shape Open-topped with pleated edges Typically closed with a dough wrap
Region China, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan

Overall, shumai and dumplings are two fantastic dishes that have evolved over the centuries to become beloved food items around the world. Whether steamed, fried, boiled or pan-fried, these dishes offer a unique and delicious culinary experience that is enjoyed by food lovers everywhere.

Shumai vs. Siu Mai: Differences and similarities

Shumai and siu mai are two popular types of Chinese dim sum. They are often confused with each other due to their similar appearance and filling ingredients. However, there are some notable differences between the two.

  • Shumai:
    • Originated from Northern China
    • Wrapped in thin and translucent dough
    • Typically filled with pork, shrimp, and mushrooms
    • Not steamed with a wrapper on the bottom
    • Topped with a single pea or carrot slice
  • Siu Mai:
    • Originated from Southern China
    • Wrapped in a thicker yellow dough
    • Typically filled with pork, shrimp, and sometimes water chestnuts or bamboo shoots
    • Steamed with a wrapper on the bottom
    • Topped with a small piece of crab roe

The fillings for both shumai and siu mai are quite similar, but the difference in dough thickness gives the two dishes a distinct texture. Shumai generally has a more delicate and lighter texture, while siu mai has a thicker and slightly chewier texture due to the yellow dough.

Another major difference between the two is the cooking method. Shumai is simply steamed without a wrapper on the bottom, while siu mai is steamed with a wrapper that helps to hold its shape and retain moisture.

Despite the differences, both shumai and siu mai are delicious dim sum staples that are cherished by many. Whether you prefer the delicate texture of shumai or the heartier flavor of siu mai, these dishes are sure to satisfy your cravings for Chinese dumplings.

Shumai Siu Mai
Originated from Northern China Originated from Southern China
Thin and translucent dough Thicker yellow dough
Filled with pork, shrimp, and mushrooms Filled with pork, shrimp, and sometimes water chestnuts or bamboo shoots
Not steamed with a wrapper on the bottom Steamed with a wrapper on the bottom
Topped with a single pea or carrot slice Topped with a small piece of crab roe

Differences in fillings and wrappers of shumai and dumplings

Shumai and dumplings may both be small bites of deliciousness, but they differ in terms of their fillings and wrappers. Here are the key differences:

  • The filling of shumai usually consists of ground pork, shrimp, and mushrooms, while dumplings can have a variety of fillings such as pork and cabbage, chicken and coriander, or even vegetarian options like shiitake mushrooms and tofu.
  • Shumai’s filling is usually visible at the top of the dumpling, while dumplings usually have a fully enclosed filling that is hidden.
  • The wrapper of shumai is often thinner and more delicate, as it is made from a combination of wheat starch and tapioca flour, while dumpling wrappers use plain wheat flour or a combination of wheat and rice flour. This difference in the wrapper makes shumai less sturdy and more prone to tearing, but with a melt-in-your-mouth texture.

The Wrapper and Filling: Where Shumai and Dumplings Differ

If you look closely, you can immediately tell if a dumpling is different from a shumai, despite their similar sizes. The fillings and wrappers of these dumplings differ, making them each unique in their own way.

Shumai, originating from China, have their dumpling fillings showcased on top of a tender wheat starch and tapioca flour wrapper. Meanwhile, dumplings – a dish originating from Northern China – have their fillings securely wrapped inside a wheat flour-based dough. While shumai’s filling is usually made of ground pork, shrimp, and mushrooms, there are a variety of dumpling fillings to cater to different taste preferences.

Fillings and Wrappers: The Balance Between Flavors and Textures

One of the most significant differences between shumai and dumplings is their filling and wrapper composition. As mentioned earlier, shumai’s wrapper is delicate and tender while the filling of mostly pork and shrimp oozes out at the top of the dumpling. Since the wrapper is thinner, it is easier to bite into and melts in your mouth quickly.

On the other hand, dumplings are packed more tightly inside, with the dough fully covering the filling to prevent it from falling apart when cooked. Dumplings also have more variety in the filling, which includes a mix of meat and vegetables. Compared to shumai, the dumpling’s wrapper is thicker, chewier, and has a slightly doughy texture.

The Table of Differences

Dumplings Shumai
Fully enclosed filling Visible filling on top
Wheat or wheat-rice flour wrapper Wheat starch and tapioca flour wrapper
Can have a variety of fillings, including vegetarian options Usually filled with ground pork, shrimp, and mushrooms

When you compare shumai and dumplings side by side, their differences become apparent. Shumai is more delicate, with its tender and thinner wrapper showcasing its tasty fillings. Meanwhile, dumplings offer a wide range of fillings, with a sturdier wrapper that offers a slightly doughy texture.

The Texture and Taste of Shumai and Dumplings

One of the key differences between shumai and dumplings is their texture and taste. Both are popular Chinese dumplings that are traditionally steamed, pan-fried or boiled and served with dipping sauce. But when it comes to texture and taste, there are some notable variations that set them apart.

  • Texture: Shumai are typically thinner and smaller than dumplings, with a thinner and slightly translucent wrapper made of wheat flour and tapioca starch. The filling is usually made of ground pork, shrimp, or other meat and seafood. Shumai have a smooth and delicate texture that melts in your mouth, with a juicy and flavorful filling.
  • Taste: Shumai have a delicate and mild flavor, with a subtle sweetness from the shrimp or pork filling and a hint of sesame oil and soy sauce. The tapioca starch in the wrapper gives them a slightly chewy and sticky texture that complements the filling.
  • Texture: Dumplings, on the other hand, are usually thicker and larger than shumai, with a chewy and doughy wrapper made of wheat flour and water. The filling can be made of various ingredients, such as pork, beef, chicken, vegetables or a combination of these. Dumplings have a more substantial texture, with a satisfying bite to them.
  • Taste: Dumplings have a more robust and savory flavor than shumai, with a rich and meaty taste from the filling. They are often served with a dipping sauce made of soy sauce, vinegar, and chili oil that adds a tangy and spicy kick.
  • Variations: Both shumai and dumplings can come in many variations and flavors depending on the region and the cook. Some shumai may have a more savory and spicy filling, such as Cantonese-style shumai with mushrooms and minced pork, while others may have a sweeter and milder filling, such as Japanese-style shumai with shrimp and vegetables. Similarly, dumplings can be boiled, pan-fried, or steamed, and they can have different shapes and fillings, such as soup dumplings or vegetarian dumplings.


While shumai and dumplings share many similarities, their texture and taste are what make them distinct and beloved. Whether you prefer the delicate and juicy texture of shumai or the hearty and savory taste of dumplings, there’s no denying the charm and deliciousness of these classic Chinese dumplings.

Shumai Dumplings
Thinner and smaller Thicker and larger
Translucent wrapper made of wheat flour and tapioca starch Doughy wrapper made of wheat flour and water
Smooth and delicate texture Chewy and substantial texture
Delicate and mild flavor Robust and savory flavor
Usually filled with pork, shrimp, or other meat and seafood Can be filled with various ingredients, such as pork, beef, chicken, vegetables, or a combination of these

In summary, shumai and dumplings are two types of Chinese dumplings that have their unique texture and taste. Whether you prefer the delicate and juicy shumai or the hearty and savory dumplings, both are popular and delicious choices that can be enjoyed in many variations and flavors.

Popular Shumai and Dumpling Recipes from Different Cultures

Shumai and dumplings are both delicious bite-sized treats that are enjoyed worldwide. Although they are similar in appearance and ingredients, each culture has its own unique twist on these tasty treats. Below are some popular shumai and dumpling recipes from various cultures:

  • Chinese Shumai: Chinese shumai are typically made with ground pork, shrimp, and mushrooms. They are wrapped in a thin, round wrapper and steamed to perfection. They are usually served with soy sauce or a spicy chili oil on the side.
  • Japanese Gyoza: Japanese gyoza are similar to Chinese shumai, but the filling is typically made with ground pork, cabbage, garlic, and ginger. They are wrapped in a thin, circular wrapper and pan-fried until crispy. Gyoza are usually served with a dipping sauce made of soy sauce, rice vinegar, and chili oil.
  • Korean Mandu: Korean mandu can be made with a variety of fillings, including beef, pork, tofu, or kimchi. They are wrapped in a thick, square wrapper and can be boiled, steamed, or pan-fried. They are often served with a dipping sauce made of soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil.
  • Taiwanese Soup Dumplings: Taiwanese soup dumplings, also known as xiao long bao, are filled with a pork and broth mixture. The wrapper is thicker than other types of dumplings and is meant to be eaten with the soup inside. They are typically steamed and served with a black vinegar and ginger dipping sauce.
  • Indian Momo: Indian momo are made with a variety of fillings, including vegetable, chicken, or pork. The filling is often mixed with spices and wrapped in a thin, crescent-shaped wrapper. They are steamed or fried and served with a spicy tomato chutney.
  • Nepali Sel Roti: Nepali sel roti is a type of deep-fried dumpling made with rice flour, sugar, and spices. It is usually served as a snack or with tea.

As you can see, shumai and dumplings come in many shapes, sizes, and flavors, depending on the culture that prepares them. Whether you prefer Chinese shumai or Japanese gyoza, there are endless possibilities to enjoy these tasty treats.

How to make perfect shumai and dumplings at home

If you’re looking to create some delicious Shumai and Dumplings in the comfort of your own home, there are a few key things to keep in mind. These two similar-looking dishes both have unique differences and require a little patience and precision to perfect. Here’s what you need to know:


  • Gyoza or Wonton wrappers
  • Minced pork or shrimp
  • Chopped vegetables (usually cabbage, shiitake mushrooms, or scallions)
  • Soy sauce, sesame oil, and cornstarch for seasoning and binding
  • Ginger and garlic for added flavor

The Difference between Shumai and Dumplings

While Shumai and Dumplings may look the same, they have distinct differences. Unlike the traditional gyoza or wonton wrappers used in dumplings, shumai is made with a type of thin pastry wrapper that is open at the top, exposing the filling. Additionally, shumai is steamed rather than boiled.

Preparing the Filling

The key to making delicious shumai and dumplings is perfecting the filling. For shumai, the filling is typically made of a mixture of minced pork or shrimp and chopped vegetables such as cabbage, shiitake mushrooms, or scallions, combined with seasonings such as soy sauce, sesame oil, and cornstarch to get a perfect consistency and binding. Add a little bit of chopped ginger and garlic to add more depth of flavors.

The Folding Technique

When it comes to folding, shumai and dumplings are quite different. For shumai, take a small circle of the wrapper, add some filling onto it, and pleat the edges on the top like a basket, making sure the filling is visible at the top. For dumplings, place a spoonful of filling on the center of the wrapper, fold it in half, and then crimp and pleat the edges together to create a sealed pouch. You can also experiment with different folding techniques, such as the “flower” fold for dumplings.

Steaming or Boiling

After folding, it’s time to cook your shumai and dumplings. Shumai is typically steamed, while dumplings can be either boiled or steamed. When steaming, place your shumai or dumplings in a steamer basket lined with parchment paper to prevent sticking. For boiled dumplings, bring salted water to a boil, then add the dumplings, and cook until they are floating, which should take around three to four minutes.

Choosing the Right Dipping Sauce

Shumai Dumplings
Soy sauce, rice vinegar, and chili oil Ginger, soy sauce, and rice vinegar

The right dipping sauce can take your shumai and dumplings to the next level. When it comes to shumai, a mixture of soy sauce, rice vinegar, and chili oil can bring out the flavors of the filling, while simple ginger, soy sauce, and rice vinegar are enough to elevate the taste of boiled dumplings.

What is the difference between shumai and dumplings?

FAQ 1: Are shumai and dumplings the same thing?
No, they are not the same thing. Although they are both popular Chinese dumplings, they have distinct differences in their appearance and taste.

FAQ 2: What is shumai?
Shumai is a type of Chinese dumpling that is known for its unique appearance. It is usually made with a thin wrapper that is filled with pork, shrimp, and other ingredients. The filling is typically placed on top of the wrapper and pleated to form a cup shape.

FAQ 3: What is a dumpling?
Dumplings are a broad category of dishes found in many cultures around the world. They are typically made with a filling that is wrapped in dough and boiled, steamed, or fried. In China, they are often served as part of a dim sum brunch and can have a variety of fillings.

FAQ 4: How are shumai and dumplings cooked?
Shumai and dumplings are often steamed or boiled, although they can also be fried in some cases. Shumai are typically cooked with their filling exposed on top, while dumplings are wrapped around the filling and steamed or boiled until cooked through.

FAQ 5: Which one is healthier, shumai or dumplings?
Both shumai and dumplings can be healthy, depending on the ingredients used in their filling and the method of cooking. Steamed or boiled versions are generally healthier than fried versions, and fillings made with lean protein like chicken or vegetables are also a healthier option.

Closing thoughts

Thank you for reading about the difference between shumai and dumplings. While they may have similarities, they are unique dishes with their own distinct flavors and appearances. Whether you’re a fan of shumai or dumplings, we hope this article has helped you understand the differences between the two. Don’t forget to visit us again for more delicious insights!