Soup Dumplings (Xiaolongbao)

Shanghai Steamed Soup Dumplings (Xiaolongbao), by thewoksoflife.com

Soup Dumpling Recipe Instructions

Below, you will find step-by-step detailed instructions with photos. For the full recipe card in condensed form, scroll down to the bottom of this post.

Step 1: The Aspic

The first thing to make is the aspic, or meat gelatin, which will create the soup in the soup dumplings.

You’ll make a pork soup with bones and skin (don’t freak out at this! The Chinese—as well as all of the world’s great food cultures—have learned to utilize every part of an animal and leave nothing behind to waste!), which will help you create a smooth, firm aspic once chilled.

You can use the skin from a skin-on pork shoulder and buy pork neck bones or ham bones. If they’re not readily available in your local market, ask the butcher.

  • ½ lb pork skin (225g), cut into 1-inch strips
  • 1 lb (450g) pork neck bones (you want neck bones that still have meat on them!)
  • water
  • 2 slices ginger
  • 1 scallion, cut into 3 pieces
  • 1 tablespoon shaoxing wine

In a small pot, add the pork skin and pork bones and cover with cold water. Bring to a rolling boil, and immediately drain and rinse off the bones and the skin. This gets rid of any impurities.

Rinse out the pot and put everything back in. Add 4 cups (950 ml) of water along with the ginger, scallion and wine. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, turn off the heat, allow the soup to cool, and strain the liquid into a bowl. As to the leftovers in the pot, you can discard them or go the Chinese route, which would be to drizzle some light soy sauce over everything and start grazing).

Once the liquid is completely cooled, cover and refrigerate overnight.

This is what you’ll have the next day. Meat jello!

Pork aspic, by thewoksoflife.com<img class=”aligncenter wp-image-6443 size-full” src=”https://thewoksoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/shanghai-soup-dumpling-08.jpg” alt=”Pork aspic, by thewoksoflife.com” width=”600″ height=”692″ srcset=”https://thewoksoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/shanghai-soup-dumpling-08.jpg 600w, https://thewoksoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/shanghai-soup-dumpling-08-260×300.jpg 260w” sizes=”(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px” />

Step 2: The Dough

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (130g)
  • 6 tablespoons warm water (90 ml)

In a mixing bowl, add the flour and warm water 1 tablespoon at a time. Work and knead the dough for 15-20 minutes. The dough should be very soft and smooth. Cover with a cloth and let it rest for 30 minutes.

Step 3: The Filling

  • 1 pound (450g) ground pork (70% lean 30% fat)
  • 2 tablespoons shaoxing wine
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 teaspoons light soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • A pinch of ground white-pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 heaping cup of your aspic, diced into ½-inch pieces

Take your ground pork and put it in the food processor. Pulse for 30-60 seconds until the pork resembles paste. In a mixing bowl, add the pork and all the rest of the ingredients except the aspic.

Mixing ground pork dumpling filling, by thewoksoflife.com<img class=”aligncenter wp-image-6442 size-full” src=”https://thewoksoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/shanghai-soup-dumpling-07.jpg” alt=”Mixing ground pork dumpling filling, by thewoksoflife.com” width=”600″ height=”399″ srcset=”https://thewoksoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/shanghai-soup-dumpling-07.jpg 600w, https://thewoksoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/shanghai-soup-dumpling-07-300×199.jpg 300w” sizes=”(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px” />

Whip everything together thoroughly, for about 2 minutes. You want everything to be extremely well combined, and the pork should look like a light, airy paste. Gently fold in the diced aspic, and do not over-mix.

Mixing pork and aspic to make filling, by thewoksoflife.com<img class=”aligncenter wp-image-6444 size-full” src=”https://thewoksoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/shanghai-soup-dumpling-09.jpg” alt=”Mixing pork and aspic to make filling, by thewoksoflife.com” width=”600″ height=”420″ srcset=”https://thewoksoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/shanghai-soup-dumpling-09.jpg 600w, https://thewoksoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/shanghai-soup-dumpling-09-300×210.jpg 300w” sizes=”(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px” />

Cover and transfer the filling to the refrigerator until ready to make the dumplings. If you’re ready now, you can put it in the freezer for 15 minutes to allow it to firm up and make assembling the buns easier.

Step 4: Assembly

Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour and roll the dough into a long cylinder/cigar, about an inch in diameter. Cut the dough into small equal pieces weighing about 11 grams each (the dough chunks should be a size resembling that of gnocchi).

Dumpling wrapper dough cut into small pieces, by thewoksoflife.com<img class=”aligncenter wp-image-6447 size-full” src=”https://thewoksoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/shanghai-soup-dumpling-10.jpg” alt=”Dumpling wrapper dough cut into small pieces, by thewoksoflife.com” width=”600″ height=”399″ srcset=”https://thewoksoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/shanghai-soup-dumpling-10.jpg 600w, https://thewoksoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/shanghai-soup-dumpling-10-300×199.jpg 300w” sizes=”(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px” />

Roll out each piece into a round disc about 3 – 3 ¼ inches diameter. Keep everything under a damp cloth.

Prepare your bamboo steamer. You can line it with cheese cloth…

Single soup dumpling with many folds, by thewoksoflife.com<img class=”aligncenter wp-image-6436 size-full” src=”https://thewoksoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/shanghai-soup-dumpling-01.jpg” alt=”Single soup dumpling with many folds, by thewoksoflife.com” width=”600″ height=”902″ srcset=”https://thewoksoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/shanghai-soup-dumpling-01.jpg 600w, https://thewoksoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/shanghai-soup-dumpling-01-199×300.jpg 199w” sizes=”(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px” />

…napa cabbage leaves, or these lovely bamboo steamer discs, which can be found in some Chinese restaurant supply stores (if using these, you must brush the discs with oil first!).

Steamed Shanghai Soup Dumplings (Xiaolongbao), by thewoksoflife.com<img class=”aligncenter wp-image-6445 size-full” src=”https://thewoksoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/shanghai-soup-dumpling-11.jpg” alt=”Steamed Shanghai Soup Dumplings (Xiaolongbao), by thewoksoflife.com” width=”600″ height=”902″ srcset=”https://thewoksoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/shanghai-soup-dumpling-11.jpg 600w, https://thewoksoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/shanghai-soup-dumpling-11-199×300.jpg 199w” sizes=”(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px” />

When all that is prepared, take out the filling. You’ll be making each bun one at a time. Place about 1 tablespoon of filling in the middle of your dumpling skin. Pleat with as many folds as you can muster: 12-18 folds should do it.

Watch the video in our Carrot Ginger Pork Bun post. The technique is very similar. Basically, as you fold, you’re constantly using your thumb to push the filling into the resulting little “bag” that you’re creating with the dough. For this one, you’re just making more folds.

Make sure the top is sealed. If the filling ever gets too wet or hard to handle, put it in the freezer for another 15 minutes and start again.

Pork and aspic filling on thin dumpling wrapper, by thewoksoflife.com<img class=”aligncenter wp-image-6437 size-full” src=”https://thewoksoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/shanghai-soup-dumpling-02.jpg” alt=”Pork and aspic filling on thin dumpling wrapper, by thewoksoflife.com” width=”600″ height=”902″ srcset=”https://thewoksoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/shanghai-soup-dumpling-02.jpg 600w, https://thewoksoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/shanghai-soup-dumpling-02-199×300.jpg 199w” sizes=”(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px” />

Place the buns in the lined steamer basket, about 1 1/2 – 2 inches apart. 

Soup dumplings in steamer before cooking, by thewoksoflife.com<img class=”aligncenter wp-image-6438 size-full” src=”https://thewoksoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/shanghai-soup-dumpling-03.jpg” alt=”Soup dumplings in steamer before cooking, by thewoksoflife.com” width=”600″ height=”902″ srcset=”https://thewoksoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/shanghai-soup-dumpling-03.jpg 600w, https://thewoksoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/shanghai-soup-dumpling-03-199×300.jpg 199w” sizes=”(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px” />

Step 5: Steaming

In a metal steamer pot or wok, boil water. If using a wok, put the water at a level so that when you put the bamboo steamer into the wok, the water rises about ½ inch up the bottom of the bamboo base. You never want the water to touch the dumplings inside, though, so make sure not to fill it too high!

Make sure not to fill it too low either, because if all the water evaporates, you could end up burning your bamboo steamer. See our post on how to set up a steamer if you’re not familiar with steaming foods in Chinese cooking.

Once the water is boiling, put the bamboo steamer in the wok or steamer pot, cover with the bamboo steamer lid, and steam over high heat for 8 minutes. Immediately remove the bamboo steamer from the pot and serve.

Step 6: Eating!

Ok, so there is definitely a proper way to enjoy these dumplings. Put away the soy sauce, because it has no place on the table right now. What you want is Chinese black vinegar.

Pour some out into a small, round dish or bowl, and top with some very thin matchsticks of ginger. You can also dilute the vinegar with a tiny splash of water to make the flavor a little more delicate.

Take out your two utensils—chopsticks and a Chinese soup spoon (a fork would just butcher these and the soup would dribble out all over the table. It would be a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions).

Carefully, slowly peel the xiaolongbao off of the steamer basket and dip it into the vinegar.

Chinese soup dumpling and vinegar, by thewoksoflife.com<img class=”aligncenter wp-image-6440 size-full” src=”https://thewoksoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/shanghai-soup-dumpling-05.jpg” alt=”Chinese soup dumpling and vinegar, by thewoksoflife.com” width=”600″ height=”902″ srcset=”https://thewoksoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/shanghai-soup-dumpling-05.jpg 600w, https://thewoksoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/shanghai-soup-dumpling-05-199×300.jpg 199w” sizes=”(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px” />

Gently transfer the dumpling to your soup spoon

Dipping soup dumpling into black vinegar and ginger, by thewoksoflife.com<img class=”aligncenter wp-image-6441 size-full” src=”https://thewoksoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/shanghai-soup-dumpling-06.jpg” alt=”Dipping soup dumpling into black vinegar and ginger, by thewoksoflife.com” width=”600″ height=”895″ srcset=”https://thewoksoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/shanghai-soup-dumpling-06.jpg 600w, https://thewoksoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/shanghai-soup-dumpling-06-201×300.jpg 201w” sizes=”(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px” />

…and take a tiny bite out of the skin on the side of the soup dumpling to make a little hole. Proceed to slurp the soup out of the bun (Carefully. It’s HOT). Then, with a little more vinegar, finish the whole thing off in one bite.

Repeat as needed until all of the Shanghai Soup Dumplings are gone!

By the way, as if it could get any better, a side benefit of this soup dumpling is that it’s full of collagen from all that pork skin, which is a major skin-booster. Xiaolongbao are delicious AND can help you stay young!?! Come ON!

Soup Dumplings (Xiaolongbao)

Shanghai Soup Dumplings, or xiaolongbao (小笼包)—perhaps the most perfect single bite of food ever conceived by man—do not require much introduction. Paper-thin wrappers envelop perfectly seasoned pork filling and rivers of hot, flavorful soup. If you want to make more of these, you can multiply this recipe as needed!
Prep Time1 d
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time1 d 30 mins
Course: Dim Sum
Cuisine: Chinese
Servings: 6
Calories: 294kcal
Author: Judy

Ingredients

For the aspic:

  • ½ pound pork skin (225g, cut into 1-inch strips)
  • 1 pound pork neck bones (450g, you want neck bones that still have meat on them!)
  • water
  • 2 slices ginger
  • 1 scallion (cut into 3 pieces)
  • 1 tablespoon shaoxing wine

For the dough:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (130g)
  • 6 tablespoons warm water (90 ml)

For the filling:

To serve:

Instructions

The Aspic:

  • In a small pot, add the pork skin and pork bones and cover with cold water. Bring to a rolling boil, and immediately drain and rinse off the bones and the skin. This gets rid of any impurities. Rinse out the pot and put everything back in. Add 4 cups (950 ml) water, ginger, scallion and wine. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 2 hours.
  • After 2 hours, turn off the heat, allow the soup to cool, and strain the liquid into a bowl. Once the liquid is completely cooled, cover and refrigerate overnight.

The Dough:

  • In a mixing bowl, add the flour and the warm water 1 tablespoon at a time. Work and knead the dough for 15-20 minutes. The dough should be very soft and smooth. Cover with a cloth and let it rest for 30 minutes.

The Filling:

  • Take your ground pork and put it in the food processor. Pulse for 30-60 seconds until the pork resembles paste. In a mixing bowl, add the pork and the rest of the ingredients except the aspic. Whip everything together thoroughly, for about 2 minutes. You want everything to be extremely well combined, and the pork should look like a light, airy paste. Gently fold in the diced aspic, and do not over-mix. Cover and transfer the filling to the refrigerator until ready to make the dumplings. If you’re ready now, you can put it in the freezer for 15 minutes to allow it to firm up and make assembling the buns easier.

Assembly:

  • Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour and roll the dough into a long cylinder/cigar, about an inch in diameter. Cut the dough into small equal pieces weighing about 11 grams each (the dough chunks should be a size resembling that of gnocchi). Roll out each piece into a round disc about 3 – 3 ¼ inches diameter. Keep everything under a damp cloth.
  • Prepare your bamboo steamer. You can line it with cheese cloth, napa cabbage leaves, or these lovely bamboo steamer discs, which can be found in some Chinese restaurant supply stores (if using these, you must brush the discs with oil first!).
  • When all that is prepared, take out the filling. You’ll be making each bun one at a time. Place about 1 tablespoon of filling in the middle of your dumpling skin. Pleat with as many folds as you can muster: 12-20 folds should do it. Make sure the top is sealed. If the filling ever gets too wet or hard to handle, put it in the freezer for another 15 minutes and start again.
  • Place the buns in the lined steamer basket, about 2 inches apart.

Steaming:

  • In a metal steamer pot or wok, boil water. If using a wok, put the water at a level so that when you put the bamboo steamer into the wok, the water rises about ½ inch up the bottom of the bamboo base. You never want the water to touch the dumplings inside, though, so make sure not to fill it too high!
  • Once the water is boiling, put the bamboo steamer in the wok or steamer pot, cover with the bamboo steamer lid, and steam over high heat for 8 minutes. Immediately remove the bamboo steamer from the pot and serve.

Eating:

  • Ok, so there is definitely a proper way to enjoy these dumplings. Put away the soy sauce because it has no place on the table right now. What you want is Chinese black vinegar. Pour some out into a small, round dish or bowl, and top with some very thin matchsticks of ginger.
  • Take out your two utensils—chopsticks and a Chinese soup spoon (a fork would just butcher these and the soup would dribble out all over the table. It would be a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions).
  • Carefully, slowly peel the xiaolongbao off of the steamer basket and dip it into the vinegar. Gently transfer the dumpling to your soupspoon and take a tiny bite out of the skin on the side of the bun to make a little hole. Proceed to slurp the soup out of the bun (Carefully. It’s HOT). Then, with a little more vinegar, finish the whole thing off in one bite.

Notes

Makes 18-20 dumplings, about 3 pieces per serving.

It’s not really a good idea to freeze these, as they’re so delicate.

Nutrition

Calories: 294kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 503mg | Potassium: 246mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 20IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 2mg
Can’t wait to try this recipe.  Looks really yum !

Author: Dennis Hickey

There are no limits to success to those who never stop learning. I want to help you succeed by sharing what I have learned about life skills. Knowing these skills can nourish your personal growth. I hope you enjoy this blog, and visit often so you keep learning too!

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