Xiao Long Bao

Here is my first attempt at making soup dumplings, AKA Xiao Long Bao. They are also known as soupy dumplings, soupy little dumplings, or juicy little dumplings as I found out by reading a Chinese cook book that we have had in our kitchen for years and having something click. XLB right under my nose! And so many translated names it makes your eyes cross!

After having xiao long bao last weekend with my YehYeh, I decided I would give them a try. I have looked into making them for a while now, but finally got motivated to make them. It would be time consuming, but why not?

I hope you all don’t mind another photo essay recipe!

First off – a chicken to make stock with. I was just going to buy stock and add some extra seasonings and gelatin, but Albany John thought that we should pull out all of the stops and make the stock from scratch too. Almost 5 pounds of chicken from the grocery store is above.

Boil 20 C water. Add whole chicken, 1/2 onion, ginger, and bring back up to a boil. Lower to a simmer, cover, and cook 1 1/2 hours.

Take out the chicken and vegetables and simmer the stock until it reduces by one half. Let it cool off overnight.

I had a little over 9 cups of chicken stock at the end of the day and mixed it with 2 boxes (8 packets) of unflavored gelatin. Immediately after mixing I realized that I just made 9 cups of chicken jello. Oh crap. I should have just made half. Stick in the fridge and let it gelatinize for around 5-6 hours.

Once the gelatin sets, let’s start to flavor our meat. Grate up 1 inch of ginger; mince 3-4 scallions; finely mince 4-5 leaves of napa cabbage, salted for around 30 minutes and drained (salad spinners are great for this). Actually, do the cabbage first, and everything else while it’s salting and draining.

Stick those ingredients in a bowl with your ground pork (I got mine at Roma Meats in Latham, NY) along with 2 T dry vermouth, ½ t MSG, 1 T soy sauce and 4 T water.
I found out that Roma’s pork products are anti-biotic and hormone free. The butcher was very nice and knowledgeable. And the ground pork is normally $4.49/lb, but if you buy 5 pounds or more, it is only $2.99/lb. I went the bulk route, and they even packaged them into 1 pound packages for me. Excellent! The quality was also top notch. No grey color or off smells like it can sometimes be at the Asian Food Market, so I think I’ll get it from Roma next time. In bulk, it’s only 70 cents a pound more, well worth it to me.

Get ta’ mixing! I tend to mush the meat less if I mix by hand. You could be all fancy and use a spoon or spatula.

Final product of mixed meat and seasonings. Chinese meatloaf. Kind of like my basic meaty filling for dumplings, with the addition of water (it helped incorporate things tremendously) and soy sauce (the book called for it).

Get your stock out of the fridge. See? I told you guys I made way too much! That’s a bowl sitting on top of 9 cups of chicken aspic!!

Grab some of the chicken jello out of the bowl and place it on a cutting board.

Chop it up into small cubes. This was approximately 2 C of chicken jello. Kinda pretty though.

Mix the meat in with the gelatin cubes. Cover and let it sit in the fridge while you make your dough. At this point I was feeling a little knackered. This is a 2 day recipe, to be sure.

To make the dough: combine 2.5 C flour with ½ C boiling water. Mix well, then add ¼ C cold water and 1 T fat (I used bacon fat). Knead until it is a nice and glossy dough, then let it sit 20 minutes to rest.
Grab handfuls of the dough and roll them out like a snake. Cut off each piece as you need it and roll it out. Err on the side of making large circles since XLB need lots of pleats. Make the edges thinner if you can.

Place some filling in the center. To pleat, simply start folding some of the top over on itself, kind of like folding a paper fan. I’d get fired from a soup dumpling factory in a jiffy! These might look a little rough, but they held their shape so I was happy! I probably wouldn’t have bothered pleating, except there was something in the back of my mind saying ‘Yeah, but what if the whole recipe hinges on this? That would stink to mess the entire thing up ‘cause you were half-assing on the folding’.

After you’ve made a few dumplings, steam them for 8-10 minutes. I like to use a bamboo steamer lined with napa cabbage leaves. That way you’ve also got an edible liner instead of using parchment paper! Tasty and ecofriendly!

Here’s what they look like out of the steamer. Glossy, fat, and shiny!

As you can see, my first round of soup dumplings were a little too thick-skinned and not soupy enough for me.

Sadly, my second round was too thin, so even though I added more cubes of gelatin all of the precious soup escaped! This clearly is something to be tweaked with. I think I’ll try thicker skins and a few more cubes of gelatin next time.

The skins were not as elastic as the kind I had in NYC but were pretty tender and I didn’t have much of an issue of gumminess/undercooking despite them being so thick.

Can you see a little bit of brothy soup in this picture? It was so hard to get a shot of these soup dumplings since they tasted pretty good and were very hot. You can kind of see the liquid on the bottom and towards the left.
What also helped make them tempting was recreating the black vinegar dipping sauce that accompanied the XLB in the city. It is also very easy – black vinegar, extra special dark soy sauce, and matchstick slices of peeled ginger.

While my first batch wasn’t perfect, they were good enough to merit trying again.

  1. you got mad skills girl! i've always have been afraid to make a dim sum type of anything 'cause I find the dough intimidating

  2. you are crazy! After just reading that post I'm ready for a nap. It looks so labor intensive!

    also… chicken jello. Mmmm…

  3. You are my hero. You kinda were before, but now you are my hero as in I might have to dress up as you next Halloween.

  4. Holy crap! You made soup dumplings! (Not that you didn't know that.) That's awesome. I've been tempted to try before but after a particularly harrowing batch of shu mai I haven't worked up to it. Hmm…maybe it's time to get back on the dumpling horse…

  5. MattW said:

    Are these the dumpling you can drink using a straw?

  6. What a wonderful recipe! I'm going to make xio long bao for my bingo night.

    Thanks for sharing your recipe~

    Join, post your comments , submit your recipe!

    And you can visit me if I can visit you~~~
    Have a Great Day!

  7. phairhead – oh man, buying the wonton skins is so much easier. For thin stuff, that is the way to go! ($1.50, or 2 hours of rolling and kneading?)

    lk – I realized that about 1/4 way in! phew!

    celina – you are definitely going to need a cape, then.

    Bootsies – if you do dumplings, I might just have to hop a plane down. For serious.

    MattW – you can for when you make them gigantic! Otherwise you nibble some skin and slurp the soup out that way.

    foodcreate – you have got baos! (lul)

  8. Sherry said:

    Those dumplings look great! Do you know any restaurants in Albany where you order them? I went to Joe's Shanghai Restaurant in Chinatown and they were great!Please let me know

  9. Sherry – yes, you can go to Ala Shanghai on Route 2 in Latham. They make soup dumplings, and my life up here has been much happier because of it!

  10. Silent said:

    When you're done pleating the top spin it whatever direction you where going to pleat it, I.E., clockwise or counter-clockwise, into the whole of the dumpling. that makes the nice looking top apparently. Look up videos on making Baozi, it's basically the same thing, but a little more popular. The mechanics are pretty much the same at any rate…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: