Chinese Soup Dumplings (Xiao Long Bao)
Do you love Chinese food? Well, today we’re going to show you how to make your own delicious soup dumplings – Xiao long bao! They’re a little bit tricky to make but they’re definitely worth it. So warm up the kitchen and get ready to cook up some culinary magic!
What is Xiao Long Bao?
Xiao long bao is a type of soup dumpling that originated in Shanghai, China. Xiao long bao are made by wrapping thin dough around a small amount of filling (usually pork-based) that includes gelatinous stock, then pleating the dough to form a tight seal. The dumplings are then steamed until cooked through.
The name “xiao long bao” literally means “little dragon bun”. The legend behind the name is that the dish was invented by a chef who was trying to create a new type of bun. Rumor has it, he accidentally left some soup in the dough he was making, and when he steamed it, the soup turned into dumplings. Xiao long bao quickly became popular in Shanghai.
How to Make Soup Dumplings
You can make Chinese soup dumplings by first mixing together the dough, filling it with your choice of meat or vegetables and gelatinous broth, and then sealing the edges. You’ll want to steam them before you eat them just like any other type of dumpling. Steam them for about 10 minutes until they’re nice and soft.
Shaping Soup Dumplings
To prepare the dough, lightly dust a clean work surface with flour and roll it into an inch-long cylinder. Cut this piece into small equal pieces that resemble gnocchi before rolling each one out to 3 ¼ inches in diameter (the size needed for discs).
Place about 1 tablespoon of filling in the middle of your dumpling skin. Pleat with as many folds that you can: 12-18 should do it! Basically, fold up like an a pleated skirt until there’s a sealed top on each side and give them another good seal by pressing down really hard while folding over again (like pleating curtains).
Get the full recipe below – Good luck, you’ve got this!
Chinese Soup Dumplings (Xiao Long Bao)
- 1 Bamboo Steamer Basket optional
- 2.5 to 3 lbs chicken backs and necks
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 inches ginger sliced
- 4 green onions chopped into large chunks
- 120 g all purpose flour 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons
- pinch of salt
- 35 g hot water 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon
- 25 g cold water about 2 tablespoons
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 8 oz ground pork
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 4 teaspoons Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 4 green onions minced
Ginger Soy Dipping sauce
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons ginger minced
Day 1: Prepare the Jelly
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Add 1 tbsp vegetable oil to a dutch oven and place it in the oven to warm, 5 to 10 minutes.
- Once heated, add the chicken to the pot and cover with the ginger and green onions. Add 1/4 cup water. Cover with a lid and return to the oven. Roast until chicken broth has accumulated in the bottom of the pot, about an hour.
- Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before straining the chicken broth. Once cooled completely, transfer the chicken broth into a sealed container and refrigerate overnight.
Day 1 or 2: Prepare the Dumpling Wrappers (either the day before or the day you are cooking them)
- Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Slowly drizzle the hot water over the flour while stirring with a pair of chopsticks or fork until the water is fully absorbed.
- Slowly drizzle 2 tbsp of cold water over the flour while mixing. Once the water is fully absorbed and the flour turns flakey, start pressing with your hand to gather the dough together while mixing in as much dry flour as you can. If there is still dry flour showing, add an additional dash of water and keep kneading. The final product should be a semi-soft dough with no left over flour in the bowl.
- Transfer the dough onto a clean working surface and knead for 15 to 20 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. The dough should feel soft and not stick to your hands.
- Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest for 45 minutes.
- Note: The dough can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge overnight.
Day 2: Prepare the Dumplings (the day you are serving the dumplings)
Making the Pork Filling
- Add the grated ginger into a small bowl and pour in 1/4 cup hot water.
- The chicken broth should have become congealed with a layer of fat on top. Scrape off the fat and reserve it in a small bowl.
- Dice the broth gelatin into small cubes, then break into coarse bits.
- If the chopped gelatin weighs less than 4.4 oz, add a few spoonfuls of the chicken fat until it reaches 4.4 oz. Store the gelatin in the fridge while not using so it does not liquify.
- Add the ground pork to a medium bowl with the ginger water, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, salt, sugar and pepper. Mix with a spatula until the liquid is fully absorbed and the filling becomes sticky and bouncy, 5 minutes or so.
- Add the chopped chicken jelly and green onions. Mix until incorporated.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and store in the fridge until ready to use. The filling can be stored in the fridge for a couple of hours, but not too much longer, because liquid can start to seep out.
Forming the Soup Dumplings
- Line a steamer rack with napa cabbage leaves or prepare some square parchment paper for steaming the dumplings.
- Place the rested dough onto a clean working surface. Roll it into a long log, about 1” in diameter. Cut the log in half, wrap one half with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge while working on the other half.
- Roll out the log a bit more. Divide it into two equal pieces, then further cut them into 10 pieces in total. Cover them with a few layers of wet paper towels to prevent drying out.
- Work on the buns one at a time. Shape one piece of dough with your fingers so it is a round piece, then flatten it with your palm. Use a small rolling pin to roll out the wrapper, spinning the dough after rolling a few times. Roll until the wrapper is very thin, about 4 1/2” in diameter.
- Place about 1 tablespoon of the filling onto the center of the wrapper. Fold and pinch the edges of the wrapper to create pleats. When you are about to seal the pleats, leave a small opening on the top of the dumplings.
- Place the wrapped dumplings onto the napa cabbage or parchment paper. Cover loosely with a few layers of wet paper towels to prevent drying out. Work on the rest of the dumplings until you can fill the steamer rack – you should leave at least 2” between the dumplings.
Cooking the Xiao Long Bao
- Prepare the dipping sauce by mixing the soy sauce, vinegar and ginger.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover the steamer rack with a lid and place it over the boiling water. Steam over medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes. Repeat until all dumplings are cooked.
- Serve immediately with the dipping sauce.
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