Xiao long Bao (Shanghai Soup Dumplings)

Gelatin Broth:
It may be easier to start this aspect a day ahead. There's a lot of down time while waiting for various coolings to happen.

  • 2 litres (2 quarts) of water
  • 1 kg (~2 lbs) chicken bones (wings/back/neck)
  • 60 gm (2 oz) of Virginia Smithfield ham or cured Chinese ham, cut into 4 pieces
  • 250 gm (~1/2 lb) of pork skin & fat (you could also use pork belly)
  • 2.5 cm (1 in) piece of ginger, sliced into 4-5 ginger “coins”
  • 2 green onions, cut into 8 cm (3 in) pieces
  • 4 large garlic cloves, smashed with side of your knife
  • 2 teaspoons of Shao Hsing wine (or dry sherry)
  • 1 tablespoon of unflavoured gelatin

  1. Wash pork thoroughly. Take the pork skin and with the backside of your knife, firmly scrape the surface of the skin to clean it further. Rinse it again.  
  2. Place all ingredients in a large stockpot. When all ingredients come to a boil, immediately turn to low heat and simmer for 2 hours. Skim surface of impurities constantly to keep soup clean and clear. 
  3. When the soup is done. Strain and discard solids. We only use 4 cups of broth. (the rest can be used as a broth or stored frozen for another batch of the same)
  4. Place 4 cups of the broth back in the pot, turn on the heat. When just about to boil again, turn heat off and add the gelatin. 
  5. Whisk for 2 minutes until all powder is dissolved. 
  6. Pour broth into an 8×8 baking dish or a few plastic containers, may be used instead. 
  7. Refrigerate until set, about 3-4 hours or overnight.

The Filling

  • 500 gm (~1 lb) minced pork
  • 250 gm (~1/4 lb) shrimp, shelled, deveined and minced finely
  • 3 stalks green onion, finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger.
  • 1 teaspoon Shao Hsing wine (or dry sherry)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil

  1. Mix all ingredients.  When the broth  is set, run a fork through it, with criss-cross motion, to break up into very small 5mm (1/4 in) pieces. 
  2. Take about 360 ml (1 1/2 cups) of the jelly broth and add that to the filling mixture. 
  3. Stir to incorporate evenly throughout. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Dough wrappers
(makes about 40 dumplings)

  • 400 grams of all-purpose flour 
  • 180 ml (3/4 cup) boiling water
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) cold water
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil

  1. Put 90% of the flour in a large bowl. 
  2. Pour about a third of the hot water in the flour. 
  3. Use a pair of chopsticks to stir vigorously. 
  4. Add more hot water. Stir more. Add the last bit of the water and stir vigorously until the dough begins to form. 
  5. Add the cold water and oil. Keep stirring vigorously with chopsticks. Stop when you can’t stir anymore.
  6. Dust counter with the remainder 40 grams of flour. Place dough on floured surface, use your hands to knead the dough for 8 -10 minutes, until it becomes soft, smooth and bounces back slowly when you poke with your finger. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for 30 minutes.
  7. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Take one piece (re-cover the remaining 3 pieces) and roll it into a long log, about 3 cm (1 ¼ in) diameter. Using pastry scraper or knife, cut dough into pieces about the size of a golf ball. Roll one of the balls between your palms to get a nice, round, smooth ball. 
  8. Using a rolling pin, roll it out flat. Use 8 cm (3 in) cookie cutter or improvise. Take the edge of the wrapper and by gently swirling it between your fingers you can thin the edge out  a little and retain the base thickness. This allows for good expansion of the dumpling and the classical purse appearance of the final steamed dumpling.
    **Note: It's important to keep the counter floured as you work. 
  9. Fill with 1 tablespoon of filling. pinch a pleat with the edge of the wrapper and in a concertina fashion continue around the edge bringing the edge up to a central point. It's important that each pleat is completely sealed by pinching well and that the final nipple is sealed the same way
  10. Repeat with rest of the dumplings. Make sure that you cover any dough that you aren’t currently using and cover the dumplings with a towel to prevent drying.

The Dipping Sauce (Combine and refrigerate)

  • 2 tablespoons of sambal (hot chili & garlic sauce)
  • 1/2 cup black vinegar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon of shaved ginger
How to shave ginger: Take a big knob – about 2 inches long. Remove skin. Use your sharp paring knife to get a flat surface on one of the long sides. With a vegetable peeler, cut thin strips along the long side of the ginger. Use knife to further cut the strips into super-thin slices. 

The Steaming

Using a bamboo steamer
  1. 1 head of Napa cabbage, leaves separated
  2. Fill steamer with 1 layer of Napa cabbage leaves. 
  3. Steam over medium heat for 2 minutes to warm up the steamer and to soften cabbage. 
  4. Place dumplings on the cabbage leaves, leaving 4 cm (1 1/2 in) space between each dumpling. Steam for 12 minutes. 
Serve in bamboo steamer.

Tiered metal steamer.
  1. It's most important to grease or oil the divider tray(s) for each batch. This prevents sticking and tearing of the dumplings.
  2. Place the dumplings as described for the bamboo steamer.  Steam likewise.