Xiao Long Bao- soup dumplings

Fell in love with these Shanghai soup dumplings when visiting Din Tai Fung restaurant in Singapore, on my travels earlier this year. I think about them a lot and finally got round to reasarching & making them. You make them by reducing a flavoursome ginger broth which is then solidified, mixed with a dim sum filling (I used king prawn & chive) and folded into dim sum wrappers. Once steamed the broth melts back into liquid form, causing the dumpling to burst in your mouth with the soup pouring out!!! So so delicious. They sound complicated to make but are actually relatively simple (just follow the pics to help).

Here are a few tips to read before you make them:

Firstly, to set the stock in order to put inside the dumpling- in China they traditionally use animal offal and fats which cause the stock to solidify. However, for simplicity and not to be put off, I have used a gelatin sheet. If you are vegetarian use agar agar (a vegetarian gelatin). For the stock, you are also welcome to make your own from chicken/ veg, however I have used shop brought fresh stock, which I added an extra cube to for more flavour.

Secondly, for the filling, traditionally in this dumpling they use minced pork and prawn but I prefer just prawn dim sum. If you are vegetarian, substitute with your favourite cooked veg (some ideas are mushroom, shredded cabbage, aubergine, tofu etc).

For the wrappers- you can make your own hot water and flour based dough, however I think for the effort of it, it is simpler and the final dumpling comes out so much better if you just buy them. I brought mine from a Chinese supermarket (just google your nearest one) or you can get them online. Get the ‘dim sum’ or ‘dumpling’ or ‘wonton’ or ‘shu mai’ wrappers as oppose to ‘gyoza’ wrappers as these are slightly thicker. However, they are still fine if there is no alternative.

To steam it- a bamboo steamer is preferable. If you don’t have one, just use a regular metal vegetable steamer. Traditionally, you line the steamer with Chinese leaf/ cabbage, but you can also use a few layers of grease proof paper with holes in.

For the dipping sauce- Din Tai Fung have the beautiful dark dipping sauce made with soy sauce and black vinegar. Black vinegar from the Chikiang region of China has a lovely caramel taste to it, and is well worth the buy ( you can get it again from Chinese supermarket or online, amazon have it). If not, mix equal parts of rice wine vinegar which you can get easily from the shops and balsamic vinegar.

Ingredients (makes around 30):

For the ‘soup’:

  • 150ml fresh chicken stock (I used pre brought fresh stock found in the chiller section of supermarkets by the meats. Use veggie stock it you wish)
  • 1 stock cube (oxo chicken dry cubes are the best)
  • 1 spring onion, finely chopped
  • Small piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 sheet leaf gelatine, soaked in cold water (find this in the baking section of supermarkets, or agar agar if veggie)

For the dumplings:

  • Dumpling wrappers (see above)
  • 250g raw king prawns
  • 1 inch ginger, finely grated
  • A few spring onions or chives, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1.5 tsp sesame oil

 For the dipping sauce:

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp black vinegar (read above)
  • Small piece of ginger, shredded into thin strands
  • Chilli oil

 To steam:

  • Cabbage leaves

Method:

  1. In a pan add the stock, stock cube, spring onion and ginger. Put on the boil then leave to reduce by about half.
  2. Once reduced, put the gelatine which has been soaked in water, into the stock.
  3. Put this mix into a takeaway container and leave in the freezer until set. This took about an hour or so.
  4. Once set, cut into little cubes with a knife.
  5. For the filling, put the prawns in a food processor and pulse until minced (but not completely mushy, you still want some small prawn pieces).
  6. Mix the prawns, ginger, spring onions or chives, vinegar, pepper, sugar, soy sauce and sesame oil, until well mixed.
  7. Add the chopped up stock to this and stir.
  8. Get your wrappers on a floured surface and fill with a little of the prawn filling. Do not over fill.
  9. Brush the edges with water, with your fingers and bring to the centre, pleating as you do and pinching at the top. If you are unsure how to, YouTube ‘making xiao long bao’ to see a video. I made extra mixture so also made wontons and shumai dumplings also.
  10. Cover the dumplings with a damp kitchen towel as you make the rest, to prevent drying out.
  11. To steam, line the steamer with the cabbage leaves. Place the dim sum carefully on top.
  12. Add some water to a wok and place the steamer on top with a lid on.
  13. Steam for 15 minutes.
  14. For the dipping sauce, stir the soy sauce, black vinegar and ginger.

To eat, there is a special way to avoid burning your mouth with the hot soup- bite a little hole in the dumpling to release the soup into a spoon, then eat!

Happy cooking! Xxx

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