Soup dumplings, or xiaolongbao, are some of the most popular types of dumplings to delight American diners. Mainland China and Taiwan have different methods for making these delectable treats, but whether you come across them during your next dim sum adventure or you’re trying to make them at home, you might not understand how the soup gets in there.
It turns out that the secret ingredient is gelatin. But it’s not the gelatin you might immediately think of when you hear or see that word. This gelatin is made of broth that has been prepared in such a way that the magical texture survives the steaming process. Pork is the base meat used for the stock, which is why pork is the main meat filling you’ll typically see, although seafood and vegetable variants do exist. The stock is boiled until all the flavor has been concentrated before it can cool down.
Once the stock is cool enough, the next step involves combining other ingredients to make the soup inside the soup dumpling. The stock is cut into cubes and mixed with ground pork that has already been prepared. This pork has some other ingredients too: namely garlic and ginger. Once the filling is ready, it is spread onto the dumpling skins. To achieve the tastiest soup dumplings, you need to fold the skins up before the dumplings can go into the steamer basket. After all, you can’t let the dumplings fall apart and spill out all of that rich broth before anyone can taste it.
Eating Soup Dumplings
Soup dumplings are typically steamed and then served in the steamer basket. Once these dumplings are served, you will need to eat them carefully. Chopsticks and porcelain spoons are the best utensils to use because it’s easier to pick up the dumplings with chopsticks without breaking the skin. You might wonder why porcelain spoons make a difference. That’s because porcelain spoons are wider and flatter with a longer handle. They serve as a handy receptacle for the soup, so you can slurp to your heart’s content after taking a small bite to open the dumpling. After the soup is gone, you eat the rest of the dumpling in one bite. Oh, and one more thing to think about: when you are enjoying them, be sure to demonstrate some dining etiquette, too.
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