Pork siomai (steamed dumplings), pearl balls and lumpiang shanghai (fried spring rolls)

I could brag and try to impress you by saying I was inspired and I decided to cook three dishes for last night’s dinner. But that’s not really true. I used the same ground pork mixture to cook the siomai, pearl balls and lumpiang shanghai. To be even more honest, I was only planning on cooking the pearl balls but I had a packet of siomai wrapper and a pack of lumpia (spring roll) wrapper in the fridge that I had to use unless I was willing to let them go to waste. So, it wasn’t really inspiration that was responsible for the… ummm… elaborate dinner. It was… economics??

casaveneracion.com pork siomai (steamed dumplings)

Siomai is the popular and generic name that Filipinos call steamed dumplings. The most popular filling is pork but beef siomai is not too uncommon.

casaveneracion.com pearl balls

Pearl balls is the name of a dish I learned from my mother-in-law. She served it when she threw a baby shower when I was pregnant with Sam and I just fell in love with these steamed balls of ground pork rolled in glutinous rice. I have an older entry that details the procedure for making them.

casaveneracion.com lumpiang shanghai

Lumpiang shanghai is what we Filipinos call fried spring rolls with pork filling.

You may click on the pearl balls and lumpiang shanghai links for reference. This entry is really about the pork filling which you can use for making all these Chinese dimsum dishes. Of course, the older pearl balls and lumpiang shanghai entries contain the respective recipes but I came up with something better that I thought I’d share with you.

Recipe: Basic pork dumpling filling


  • 650 to 750 grams of ground pork
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 1 head of garlic, peeled and finely minced
  • 2 thumb-sized pieces of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 medium-sized carrot, peeled and finely grated
  • 2-3 tbsps. of light soy sauce
  • 4 tbsps. of oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp. of sesame seed oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 tsp. each of finely chopped fresh tarragon, oregano and cilantro


  1. Nothing mysterious about making the filling — just mix everything together. To test if the mixture tastes right (not too salty or bland), take a teaspoonful of the mixture, form into a ball and fry in a little hot oil. Taste and make the necessary adjustments.
  2. To make the siomai, place a teaspoonful of the filling at the center of a wrapper and gather the edges together. Repeat until you have the desired number of siomai. There is a “correct” way of doing this by forming a triangle after the filling has been added then bringing together the two sides of the triangle’s base. But that is usually done if the dumplings are going to be cooked in simmering broth. If you intend to steam them and serve them on a plate rather than in a bowl with broth, it’s better to stick with the more common flattened ball-shaped siomai.
  3. Steam in briskly boiling water for 30 to 40 minutes. Serve at once with a mixture of kalamansi juice and light soy sauce on the side.
  4. You can use the same filling to make pearl balls by following the procedure here and to make lumpiang shanghai the procedure for which you will find here.

Quick notes

It is traditional to add half a cup or so of uncooked minced shrimp to the filling but I am allergic to shrimps so I don’t do that. I am told the filling is “tastier” with the shimps so you might want to consider adding some.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 10 minute(s) onward, depending on whether you’re frying or steaming your dumplings

Number of servings (yield): 4 to 8, depending on whether you’re serving the dumplings as a snack or a main course

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The Author

Hello, my name is Connie Veneracion. I cook, I shoot, I write. But I don't do the laundry. I don't like housekeeping very much either... (more about me)

57 Responses

  1. malu says:

    Galing mo talaga sassy!

    You are sooohhh inovative!


  2. Marvin says:

    Wow, it has never occurred to me that I can use the same filling for so many different uses. But then again, I’m very much a novice when it comes to cooking Filipino food. Your recipes look great.

  3. auee says:

    yes! the only ingredients I’m missing are the wrapper (pwede ba common lumpia wrapper?) & the sesame oil –> na-adik na kasi asawa ko, halos lahat ng food nilalagyan ng sesame oil, naubos tuloy :neutral:

    plan ko talagang mag-lumpiang shanghai this weekend..

  4. Connie says:

    malu, talagang ganun pag parating naghahabol ng oras :grin:

    Marvin, you can even use the same mixture to make baked pork balls or fried pork balls with sweet and sour pork. :)

    auee, lumpia wrapper for siomai? i don’t think it’ll work. :neutral:

  5. kulasa says:

    We also use the same mixture for almondigas and pinsek prito (good old fried siomai). Pag sobra, isama sa torta.

  6. Connie says:

    You’re right, kulasa. The same basic mixture is great for almondigas and pinsec frito as well. :)

  7. dhay says:

    ms connie,
    this is so true, napaka versatile ng recipe na ito, it goes a long, long way talaga! everytime i make shanghai usually i make quite a lot and i freeze them, asahan mo mag-torta den ako! :) next time i’ll try to make your pearl balls naman!
    thank u for another easy recipe!

  8. luz says:

    nakaka tulong talaga sa akin ang mga recipe nyu!!! medyu ahirap nga lang maghanap ng lumpia wrapper sa germany.
    Ã?”?Ã?´thanks talaga….

  9. Those pearl ballls look lovely.

  10. elit says:

    i have seen pearl balls recipe in my chinese cookbook but it didn’t interest me until you posted it. I compared your recipe to the one in the cookbook and yours seemed to be more tasty kaya I am planning to give it a try since steamed naman pala and not fried. Puro na lang kasi kami prito e. Btw ms sassy can i use dried tarragon and oregano na lang kasi cilantro lang ang available fresh in our market e. Also, we are going to make your (oops I mean speedy’s) steamed chicken for Easter Sunday :) Happy Easter na din to you and your family!

  11. Connie says:

    You’re welcome, dhay and luz. :)

    Michelle, they taste lovely too. :grin:

    elit, dried herbs are fine. but use only half as much. oh, if you’re doing speedy’s chicken, don’t forget the ginger sauce. :)

  12. taj says:

    may I share lang, connie I tried the same siomai recipe for “molo soup”‘ and it works. after you form them into balls drop them one by one in boiling chcken broth. you can add chicken cubes kung walang broth, season with salt and pepper and some sesame oil then top with toasted garlic and spring onions. hmmm….!

  13. elit says:

    Thanks and yes, i will not forget the ginger sauce. Just got a small bottle of peanut oil from south supermarket. Can’t wait for our Easter lunch get together! :smile:

  14. Elizabeth Tecson says:

    just asking kung hilaw yung rice na kasamang i-steam ng meat


  15. Connie says:

    Hi Elizabeth. If you click the link to the pearl balls recipe provided in the entry above, you’ll have the answer to your question.

  16. lauren says:

    Hi Ms. Connie

    i was bloghopping two weeks ago, came across yours, and have been browsing your recipes every night.. so informative and easy to follow… made siomai today ..turned out really yummy! and it really is a versatile mix ( i added shrimp and mushrooms)… even saved some of the mixture for easy meatballs later.

    got a question about the siomai wrapper… how come most of them did not stick to the filling ? commercial siomais wrappers are intact and adheres well to the filling as i have observed…some of my siomais were ‘hubad’ :) cause the wrapper fell off

    more power!!

  17. Popcorn says:

    Hi Connie! This one is our favorite….Siomai! Sarap talga!

  18. yang says:

    hi connie, i love your site..yummy ang mga recipes mo..i’d already tried some of them and it is always a hit..may quetion lang ako..pwede bang gamitin kong wrapper e yung wrapper na pang pinsec frito? pwede bang isteam yun?…hehe(curious lng..c”) tnx and more power!!

  19. hi ms connie,

    i just found out that am about 5 weeks pregnant, am craving for siomai and dumplings. i am originally from dumaguete and have relocated to manila after my wedding last may 28…. i have asked permission from my husband if i can enroll on a 3-5 day course on how to make siomai and dumplings, he proposed that he’ll buy me a recipe book instead- he’s worried am out of the house and pregnant. thank you for sharing your recipes.. can’t wait to try it myself today…

    god bless!


  20. Connie says:

    Hi Alfie, I hope it’s not a delicate pregnancy. My first pregnancy required bed rest for the most part. Take care and enjoy the experience. :)

  21. alfie baena-amorin says:

    hi ms connie,

    i have tried making the siomai- it’s really good… i told my husband he need not buy me a recipe book for it… sorry i haven’t been online for long, we’ve been having problems with our internet and landline connections… anyways, am happy to say it’s not a delicate pregnancy we’re just being careful… i would also like to ask how do u clean and maintain sizzling plates?

    am trying to make your pearl balls this weekend, am excited…. thanks again….

    God Bless!


  22. hi Ms. Connie,
    I open the google and serching for some chinese recipes. I came accross your siomai recipe and i think it’s great. my problem is i can’t find siomai wrapper here in saudi arabia, do you have any substitutes for siomai wrapper? It’s one of my favorite.
    Thanks and God Bless!

  23. Connie says:

    Marlene, there isn’t. But you can make your own. Never tried it myself because the procedure looks super tedious.

  24. raymond says:

    i’ve read your recipe for shanghai lumpia originally it is a chinese dish that was fused to the pinoy cuisine,i would suggest that you use dry fried 5 spice powder as your seasoning and add water chestnut, carrots and green onions in your ingredients to make it truly an exotic dining experience.

  25. raymond says:

    and for the sauce use white vinegar,soy sauce,rock candyand potato starch to thicken instead of the usual corn starch

  26. priscilla laranang says:

    i am very much impressed with your way of cooking .. i am very much interested in actual chicken deboning , kindly do it in video ..? its easier to learn when u see the process …Thanks
    priscilla laranang

  27. Cristelle says:

    Hi Connie,

    I just read your recipe about pearl balls.. I can’t wait to go home.. I’m craving for shanghai but after I read about pearl balls, my baby said that we should eat one tomorrow.. :) By the way I’m 10 weeks pregnant. Thank you for the recipe.

    God Bless!


  28. jona says:

    Hello! Galing ng recipe. Got a question lng. I don’t have steamer kc, but i tried steaming embutido by putting it in an oven rack on top of shallow pan half-filled with water. pwde ko bang i-steam ng siomai ng ganun?

    Thanks! :-)

  29. precy says:

    HI Ms Commie,

    This looks really good! Just a question po. Just wondering if I can substitute the greens w/ dill, thyme or parsley? Ito lang kasi ang available sa pantry ko. he he. thanks and more power.

    • Connie says:

      “HI Ms Commie”

      I’ve been accused of being a communist before but it’s the first time in this blog hehehe Joking. I know it’s a typo. :)

      But, seriously, not parsley. It loses its flavor fast and is best added only after the food is cooked.

      • precy says:

        LOL… Sorry Ms Connie :-) Its just that I’m very excited to comment… Anyway thanks for the reply, I just bought some dried/mixed herbs today, hopefully it will turn out good. More power!

  30. Leslie Ocampo Reese says:

    looks good

  31. Michelle says:

    Hi Ms.Connie!

    Pede po bang chopped spring onions ang gamitin instead of chopped fresh tarragon, oregano and cilantro? Saka ok lang din po bang walang ginger?


  32. Menchie says:

    Hello Ms Connie,

    I’m newly married and my husband and I both love siomai. I’m not really into cooking and stuff.. so I “googled” easy siomai recipe and came upon your website. Although I don’t really cook, I understand your recipes and it was well.. simple and I love that you added pictures to it. I tried the siomai recipe and lumpiang shanghai last weekend. My husband liked it a lot that I ended up cooking siomai again the next day. Thanks very much for this very informative website. I’m hooked! I’m looking forward to try your other recipes.

    God bless and more power!

  33. Karen says:

    if we have the carrots, onions and garlic ground with the beef, would we have the same result?

  34. Amatuer Cook says:

    Yes, nice easy to follow recipe. Will only try the siomai though as I’m not a big fan of fried food.


  35. KK says:

    Hi Ate Connie,
    Last night we went to a popular chain Chinese restaurant, we ordered siomai for appetizers. One order is $4 for 3 small pieces. I’m sure you know the feeling that you feel cheated when you are not satisfied with the food that you paid for. The taste was not great. So I have resigned myself into learning how to cook siomai. So thank you once again.

  36. kuleet19 says:

    Good day Ms.Connie
    I have a lot of questions and need your advice..
    1. For how long po tumatagal ang siomai?
    2. Kung mag-istock po ako ng bigger quantity, do i have to steam the siomai first or stock it raw? And saan ko po stock yun?freezer or chiller?

    I tried your siomai recipe and served it with my friends and they loved it! They want me to make more for them.They even told me i can make a small business out of it. pang sideline lang po kung sino gusto um-order na kakilala namin.
    Thank u and more power!

  37. Athena says:

    Can i use fennel seed instead of tarragon? And parsley instead of cilantro? Thanks

  38. Linda Frank says:

    How about a ground turkey, will it be ok instead of pork? I have never tried it before I would like to make some for families for thanksgiving. A sister inlaw does not eat pork but will eat turkey.

  39. Linda Frank says:

    Ms. Connie.
    I thought about siomai after watching Binondo girl. I thought about making them for thanksgiving. My husband’s family are coming I thought I should try ground turkey meat instead of pork. My husband’s sister inlaw does not eat pork but will eat turkey. Have you tried ground turkey meat to make siomai?

    Thanks for your recipes.

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