A kitchen adventure: Xiaolongbao (小笼包)

A quick, short post, but I just wanted to report a major kitchen adventure this past week (I suppose I’m allowed to crow a bit as long as I do it sparingly and tastefully, right?). I made xiaolongbao (小笼包). Successfully. From scratch. Dough, skin, filling, soup, and all. Not pretty as you can see (note to self: learn how to fold dumplings and next time use more filling/soup). But they did turn out quite authentic and tasty (at least I thought so). Shanghai soup dumplings, as they are often called, are some of the tastiest morsels of food ever invented. Their name comes from the fact that, in addition to the usual meat filling, there is soup inside them (which squirts all over you if you aren’t careful!). For the longest time I – and no doubt everyone who’s ever eaten them – wondered how they got the soup in. It turns out to be a rather clever trick (although, presumably a doodle if you’ve invented paper, gunpowder, printing, …). You solidify the soup using gelatin (typically a seaweed-based one called agar agar) and mix it with the pork filling. Then, when you steam the dumplings, it becomes soup again! Brilliant! I’ll sign off by saying: if you haven’t had xiaolongbao, don’t wait for me to post the recipe (its quite involved and I’ll leave it for another day). Head for the nearest Chinatown!

    Pin It

2 Responses to “A kitchen adventure: Xiaolongbao (小笼包)”

  1. #
    Rachel — February 21, 2013 at 11:06 am

    Thanks for the tip about agar agar, I’d always wondered!

    • #
      Samar — February 21, 2013 at 10:41 pm

      Glad it was helpful! I believe it is also used extensively in Japanese desserts.

Leave a Comment