Tender, porky filling. Rich, ginger-laced broth. Paper-thin dough pleated into pretty little purses. If theres a better one-bite dish than Shanghai-style soup dumplings, wed like to try that, please.
Soup dumplings, or xiao long bao, are a signature dish of Shanghai, where locals judge them by a few key factors. First, the filling must be plentiful and delicious; lean pork is a no-no. Second, there should be lots of soup that really sings with flavor; a very viscous pork stock is traditional, but its easier to get terrific results with chicken stock and gelatin. Finally, the dough should be thin enough that it almost seems to dissolve as you bite, yet it must be strong enough to hold the hot soup right up to the moment of truth.
And now, with the guidance of author and culinary instructor Andrea Nguyen, you can make these delicate-skinned porky treats at home. Start with a rich broth, then turn that broth into little gelatinous cubes. Wrap those jelly cubes, along with filling, in some dough, and then steam the whole shebang in a bamboo basket. Steaming the dumplings melts the gelatin, returning the broth to a liquid state. And there you have it: a soul-warming, soupy satchel that captivates all who have the pleasure of eating it.
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