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I sampled some selections from the Dim Sum bar on Sunday (Fairfax store). It was pretty good. I think I had about 6-7 pieces - a few different shumai (chicken, shrimp & pork?), a couple of dumplings, and a steamed BBQ pork bun for around $5. I was a happy camper.

Wikipedia's "shumai" entry essentially opens by implying that they're "pork dumplings," but then goes on to list various national and regional styles, from five different countries (Japan, China, Phillipines, Mongolia, Indonesia) many of which aren't pork-based.

I'm still not quite sure what the exact definition of "shumai" is - can anyone clarify this with a multi-national frame of mind? A literal translation of the word (along with its etymology and native language) would be much appreciated. I want to get this right. In particular, is it distinctly Chinese (with regional variations thereof?), and does it necessarily exclude other countries?

While we're at it, can we define "dumplings?" Just keep writing whatever comes to mind - I'll eventually organize and classify all posts into proper threads.

I hate the fact that I am not able to give a proper definition of shumai, or, for that matter, dumpling. I apologize to everyone for not knowing this because I should. I'm going to rise to the challenge, dear friends, because I owe you all nothing less than to educate myself and to categorize this website appropriately.

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An interesting and authoritative-looking piece suggests that shumai and pork dumpling is the same thing, but wonton is different in that it is dipped in broth....

http://casaveneracion.com/how-to-pleat-and-steam-shu-mai-steamed-pork-dumplings/

Which takes me on a whimsical tour of the world to consider various forms of a meat filling wrapped in some form of dough. It is everywhere -- ftayer in the Middle East, salteñas and empanadas in South America, hand held meat pies in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, and Leberknödel in Germany, to name only a few....but I strangely digress....

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Which takes me on a whimsical tour of the world to consider various forms of a meat filling wrapped in some form of dough. It is everywhere -- ftayer in the Middle East, salteñas and empanadas in South America, hand held meat pies in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, and Leberknödel in Germany, to name only a few....but I strangely digress....

While Leberknödel are certainly dumplings, they are not made of meat filling wrapped in dough, but rather are balls formed of ground liver, bread, egg, and seasonings all mixed together, and then simmered in broth. The various pies you mention are none of them what I would call dumplings; I'd call them pies. As to what uniquely characterizes dumplings, I'm really not sure. As I use the term, they're all clumps of stuff simmered or steamed. If they're fried, like Portuguese bolinhos de bacalhau or Italian arancini, they're not dumplings but a sort of croquette.

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You're also overlooking mandoo (mandu and a thousand other spelling variations), Korea's contribution to the wonderful world of dumplngs and meat filled goodies. I'm sure Grover would say mandoo are the best but we both spend way too much time on Mott St. eating soup dumplings so you'd have to wonder....(and are soup dumplings really dumplings or saltenas?)

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