Xiao Long Bao (XLB) are steamed soup dumplings from Shanghai. Inside the dumpling are little cubes of gelatinized broth. When you steam the dumpling, the gelatin melts into a delicious pocket of broth.
Eating XLB is a bit of an art form. You need both a soup spoon and chopsticks to properly eat XLB. You’ll want to put a mixture of dark vinegar, a tiny bit of ginger if you like ginger, and soy sauce in your soup spoon. In our cooking class at The Hutong, we also added sesame oil and sugar and a bit of chili paste.
Then, take a XLB off the steamer and add it to your soup spoon. Nibble a little hole in the top of the XLB so that some of the steam can escape and some of the vinegar mixture can enter the XLB. Then, slide the whole XLB and the vinegar mixture into your mouth. Some people compare it to eating an oyster shooter. Yum.
XLB are traditionally prepared in a small bamboo or stainless steel steaming basket. XLB are not easy or quick to make, but they are worth it because they are delicious. I consider this an advanced recipe. This website has some good pictures that show you how to pleat the dumplings, which is the hardest part. If you go to Din Tai Fung, the excellent XLB chain restaurant, you can see the XLB being made because they have an open kitchen. Note that Din Tai Fung doesn’t take reservations and I’ve always had to wait, but that’s okay because the chefs make the XLB in a kitchen with a window near the entrance, so you can study how they pleat the dumplings while you wait.
Here’s the recipe (see below). Good luck and happy cooking!
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