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Chinese Dumpling – Xiao Long Bao (Soup Dumplings)

Xiao long bao dumpling

Xiao long bao, or soup dumplings, are a delicacy from Shanghai, China. They are steamed dumplings with a thin wrapper and a juicy filling that contains a burst of savory soup. The secret to making the soup is to use gelatinized broth that melts when heated. The dumplings are usually filled with pork, but you can also use other meats, seafood, or vegetables. The dumplings are served with a dipping sauce of Zhenjiang vinegar and ginger, which balances the richness of the soup.

Active Time: 90 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours 30 min over 2 days

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Ingredients

Jelly Broth
  • 680g/1.5 lbs pork neck bones
  • 1250g water
  • 2-3 scallions

  • 2-3 ginger, thick slices

  • 30g Shaoxing wine (2 tablespoons)
Wrapper Dough
  • 120g All purpose flour
  • 70g warm water
  • 8g vegetable oil (2 teaspoons)
  • 3g salt
Filling
  • 50g water
  • 25g scallion, green and white parts
  • 5g ginger
  • 250g ground pork
  • 12g sugar
  • 5g light soy sauce (1 teaspoon)
  • 5g sesame oil
  • 1g white pepper
  • 200g jelly broth, sliced into small cubes

Notes

Storing and Freezing
  • Uncooked dumplings can be frozen. Space the dumplings out on parchment paper on a sheet pan and freeze for at least 30 minutes or longer, then you can transfer them to a ziplock bag. Do not place uncooked dumplings in a ziplock without the initial half hour freeze or they will stick to each other into one giant dumpling,
  • Cook frozen dumplings as above, but add 2 minutes to the cook time.
Eating Xiao Long Bao
  • Gently transfer a cooked dumpling from the steamer basket to a small bowl with Zhenjiang vinegar and thinly sliced ginger. Then transfer to a Chinese soup spoon. Carefully bite a small hole in the wrapper or use a chopstick to poke a hole. This will allow the hot broth to spill into the spoon. You can add more ginger or vinegar to the spoon, then eat! Be careful as the broth is hot!
Jelly Broth Alternative
  • The simpler and faster way to make jelly broth is with powdered gelatin (or agar agar). To do so, simply warm a 240g (1 cup) of broth and dissolve ½ a packet (3.5g) of gelatin powder in the broth. Cover and refrigerate until set. If you are using agar agar, bring the broth to a boil and use 1 teaspoon or about 3g per cup. 

Instructions

Make the Jelly Broth
  1. Prepare the jelly broth the day before you plan to make your dumplings. 
  2. Place the neck bones in a pot and cover with water.
  3. Bring to a rolling boil, then let it cook for just a minute.
  4. Strain and discard the water, and rinse the bones under cool water to remove any impurities.
  5. Clean the pot, then add the bones, water, scallion, ginger, and Shaoxing wine to the pot.
  6. Weigh the pot and all ingredients together (approximately 2000g plus the pot weight).
  7. Bring the pot to a rolling boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 2 hours. The goal is to develop the broth, release collagen from the bones, and reduce the liquid.
  8. After 2 hours, add a trivet to safely rest the hot pot on a scale. Tare the scale. Your target is to reduce the overall weight by about 1000g (from 1250g water to 250g). You’ll need 200g of broth for your dumpling filling. Adjust if necessary.
  9. Once you reach your target weight, strain the broth, discarding the solids. You can save any meat from the bones for other dishes.
  10. Allow the broth to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate it covered overnight.
Make the Wrapper Dough
  1. In the work bowl of a food processor, add the flour and salt.
  2. Use either the dough blade or the standard S-cutting blade.
  3. Pulse the motor to evenly distribute the salt.
  4. With the food processor running, add the oil, then slowly add in the water.
  5. Continue processing until the dough comes together into a ball. Let the food processor run for an additional 20-30 seconds.
  6. Remove the dough from the food processor. Form it into a tight ball.
  7. Cover the dough tightly with plastic wrap or an inverted bowl on the counter to prevent it from drying out. Allow the dough to rest while you prepare your filling.
Make the Filling
  1. In a blender, combine water, scallion, and ginger. Puree until smooth and set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine ground pork, salt, white pepper, soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil. Stir to combine.
  3. Add the water-scallion-ginger puree to the pork mixture.
  4. Stir vigorously in one direction until the mixture reaches a paste-like consistency. Alternatively, use a stand mixer with the flat beater attachment on medium-low speed.
  5. Incorporate approximately 200g of the jelly broth into your filling mixture.
  6. Gently stir to evenly distribute the jelly broth cubes.
  7. Cover the filling and refrigerate it for 20-30 minutes.
Prepare Your Dumpling Wrappers
  1. Make a hole in the center of your dough ball with your thumb and middle finger. Stretch the hole and cut the dough into a long rope. Roll the rope evenly and cut it into 24 pieces, about 8-9g each.
  2. Shape each piece into a round disk with the cut sides up. Flatten them with your palm and cover them with a damp cloth. Lightly sprinkle some flour on your work surface and rolling pin to prevent sticking.
  3. Roll each disk into a thin circle, about 8 cm or 3 inches wide. Keep the edges thinner than the center by rolling and turning the wrapper. Cover the wrappers with a damp cloth and do not stack them.
Fill Your Dumplings
  1. Put 20g of filling in the middle of a wrapper. Hold the wrapper on one hand and use the other hand to make a pleat with your thumb and forefinger. Pull the pleat up slightly to stretch the wrapper and press down on the filling with your other thumb. Repeat this around the edge of the wrapper until the filling is covered. Seal the dumpling by pinching the edges together.
  2. If there is any excess dough at the top of the dumpling, you can cut it off or leave it as a handle. Place the dumpling on a steamer basket lined with parchment paper. Make sure there is some space between the dumplings.
Steam Your Dumplings
  1. Bring water in a steamer base to a full boil, then reduce the heat to medium. It should still be bubbling but doesn’t need to be at a full rolling boil. Place your steamer basket and cover on the steamer and allow to cook for 5 minutes. If you have 2 steamer baskets stacked, allow about 5½ minutes of cooking time.
  2. Do not remove the steamer top to peel at your dumplings! Once cooked, remove the steamer baskets from the base, and allow the basket to rest for a minute, covered, before removing the lid.

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