In China, people don’t queue. I cant tell you the number of times I have been queue-jumped and how infuriated I was. Howeve, if you want to eat xiaolongbao in Nanxiang, a suburb of Shanghai in the Jiading District, you queue. Thi is where xiaolongbao were invented about 100 years ago, and they are still sold here, near Nanxiang’s notable park, Guyi Garden. When I went there, the queue went around the block and no one queue-jumped because that would result in an immediate ban from the stall and no dumplings.
Xiaolongbao are now found throughout Shanghai and beyond. They are traditionally filled with pork, sometimes with the addition of crab or prawns; more modern innovations include other meats, seafood and vegetarian fillings. The characteristic soup-flled kind are created by wrapping some savoury meat jelly inside the skin alongside the meat filling. As the buns steam, the jelly melts into soup.
When I bit into these delicious dumplings, the soup inside burst out and slighely burned my tongue That was me being too hasty. I absolutely love these dumpling and would have queued again for another portion, but I’ve learnt in China to always save room for dessert!
Ingredients for Xiao Long Bao (soup dumpling)
300g/10 1/2oz chicken wings
150g/5 1/2oz pork loin or spare ribs
1 knob of fresh root ginger
4 garlic cloves
3 spring onions(scallions), roughly chopped
500ml/17fl oz/2 cups water
2 tbsp powdered gelatine
1 tsp Shaoxing rice wine
2-3 spring onions(scallions), finely chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
350g/12 oz/scant 3 cups plain(all-purpose)flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp salt
100ml/3 1/2fl oz/scant 1/2 cup boiling water
3 tbsp ice-cold water
5 tbsp Chinese red vinegar
4-6 slices of fresh root ginger, cut into fine strips
Xiao Long Bao (soup dumpling) Recipe
To make the stock, put all the ingredients except the gelatine into a stock pot and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Skim off any froth. Strain the broth into a bowl and skim off any fat from the surface. Pour back into the cleaned pan and boil to reduce by half, which will take about 10 minutes. Set aside 100ml/3 1/2fl oz/scant 1/2cup of the stock to make the filling.
Sprinkle the gelatine over a little cold water and leave to soak for 5 minutes. Add the gelatine to the reduced stock and mix well. Pour into a shallow container and leave to cool, then transfer to the freezer for 2 hours. When frozen, cut into small cubes, about 2cm/4in, and transfer to the fridge.
To make the flling, put all the ingredients into a bowl together with the reserved stock and mix thoroughly for 1 minute. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and put in the fridge for up to 2 hours until the filling has firmed up.
To make the wrappers, put the flour and salt into a bowl and add the boiling water, stir to combine, then add the cold water. Knead for 10 minutes until smooth. Shape the dough into a long log and divide into 12 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball, then flatten with the palm of your hand and roll out to a 7-8cm/3in circle, using a rolling pin. Repeat to make 12 wrappers.
Moisten the outer rim of a wrapper. Place 1 heaped tablespoon of filling in the centre of the circle and add a cube of jellied stock. If you are right-handed, hold the dough in the cupped palm of your left hand, or rest on a lightly floured worktop. Bring the dough up around the filling and pinch the edges together using the thumb and index finger of your right hand, working anticlockwise while turning the bun clockwise, creating little pleats all the way round. The traditional xiaolongbao has 24 pleats but you can make fewer. Close the top of the bun by twisting the pleated edge together and pinching to completely seal in the filling. Reverse this if you are left-handed. Repeat to make 12 dumplings. Grease12 disposable foil cupcake cases with a smudge of oil and put a dumpling in each.
To cook the dumplings, fill a wok with boiling water so it is just over a quarter full. Place the dumplings in a large bamboo steamer basket. Cover the steamer basket with its lid and place in the wok; steam for 10 minutes over a high heat.
For the dipping sauce, mix the vinegar and ginger in a small bowl. Serve the dumplings with the sauce.
1.We steam them inside of a bamboo steamer. We think that’s actually a really important part of the flavor component of the dumpling because some of that bamboo flavor ends up seeping into the skin.
2.It’s worth buying disposable foil cupcake cases to cook and serve the dumplings, and to prevent the hot liquid from spilling out.
If you’re eating it for the first time, it’s really special because when you bite into it, you get really an explosion of flavors from the soup that, you know, kind of bursts out when it’s in your mouth, and it’s a just, like, truly unique experience.
What does “xiao long bao” mean?
“Xiao” means small, “long” means basket, and “bao” means dumpling. So literally translated, it means “little dumpling in a basket.”
where to buy frozen xiao long bao
You can buy it at local asian grocery stores.