How to make Xiao Long Bao (小笼包, Soup Dumplings)
Making Xiao Long Bao isn’t an easy task. My detailed instructions and tutorial video will guide you to make it to a restaurant standard.
Servings: 20 dumplings
For the aspic
- 1 medium-sized whole chicken see note 1
- 3 stalks scallions, cut into halves
- 6 slices ginger
For the wrappers
- 180 g all-purpose flour see note 2 for other options
- 60 g hot water
- 35 g tap water see note 3
For the filling
- 450 g minced pork
- 3 stalks scallions, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine
- ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
For the dipping sauce
- Red rice vinegar or black rice vinegar
- Ginger, julienned
Make the aspic
Preheat the oven at 390°F/200°C/Gas 6 (Fan-assisted 360°F/180°C)
Place chicken in an oven-proof pot/pan/baking tray. Put scallions and ginger inside the chicken. Cover TIGHTLY with a lid/tin foil.
Cook in the oven for 1 hour. Then leave to cool (covered).
Keep the chicken for other dishes. Pour the liquid into a container. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours until it turns into a piece of jelly-like aspic (about 250g).
Prepare the dough
In a mixing bowl, add hot water to the flour. Mix with chopsticks/spatula. Then add tap water.
Combine and knead into a dough. Leave to rest (covered) for 10 minutes then knead again until very smooth.
Cover and rest for a further 30-60 minutes until it becomes soft.
Mix the filling
Mix minced pork with all the seasoning until well combined.
Use a spoon to remove the layer of chicken fat on top of the aspic. Then use a fork to break it into tiny pieces. Add to the pork then mix well.
Keep refrigerated for at least 30 mins. Don’t take out until you are ready to assemble the dumplings.
Roll the wrappers
Roll the dough into a rope. Divide into 20 pieces. Then press into discs with the palm of your hand. Cover at all times when not using (with cling film/in a plastic bag/with an upside-down bowl, etc.).
With a rolling pin, use the “roll and turn” technique to flatten it into a very thin disc, about 12cm/4.7inch in diameter (Please refer to my tutorial video below). Dust the surface with flour if it sticks (see note 4).
N.B. Assemble the dumpling one by one as you roll out each wrapper (Do not stock up as they are very thin thus dry out very easily).
Place a spoonful of the filling (about 35g) in the middle of the wrapper.
Pleat into a round dumpling with about 15-20 folds (Please refer to my tutorial video below). You may leave the middle part open or sealed.
Line the steamer basket with steamer parchment paper, or cut regular parchment paper into squares (see note 5 if you are using a metal steamer).
Place dumplings in (leave at least 3cm/1inch space between them).
Bring water to a full boil in a wok/pot. Then put the steamer basket on top. Turn the heat to medium-low. Steam for 8 mins (if cooking over 10 dumplings at a time, increase to 10 mins).
Serve & eat
Bring the steamer basket to the table to serve.
Hold the top part of the dumpling with a pair of chopsticks. Pick up then place onto a soup spoon or a small saucer. Open a small hole with the chopsticks to let the “soup” flow out. Slurp up! (You may directly bite a small hole and suck out the soup but be careful not to burn your tongue)
Gently dip the dumpling into the dipping sauce (mix vinegar with julienned ginger) then eat in 1-2 bites.
You may store leftover dumplings in the fridge for up to 2 days. Steam for 3 mins to reheat. However, you may not get any soup as the liquid is absorbed by the wrapper over time.
Since soup dumplings are very delicate, I don’t recommend you make them in advance or freeze.
1. The chicken aspic: If you are making a small batch of Xiao Long Bao and don’t need much aspic, you may roast some chicken pieces (instead of a whole chicken). Chicken thighs, drums and wings are all good choices.
2. The Flour type: Use all-purpose flour if it’s more accessible to you. If you wish to achieve a more refined look, use special dumpling flour or Italian type 00 flour with medium gluten level.
3. The flour-water ratio: Please feel free to adjust the tap water by increasing/decreasing 5g-10g. Flour of different brands have slightly different water absorption capacities. The humidity and room temperature could also affect the ratio. The finished dough should be soft but not sticky.
4. To prevent sticking: If available, you may use cornstarch instead of flour to dust the surface & your rolling pin. It has a smoother texture and makes rolling a little easier if you’re new to this. But use sparingly.
5. If you are using a metal steamer, you may brush a thin layer of oil on the basket to prevent sticking. Also, wrap the lid with a piece of cloth/tea towel to stop any condensation falling onto the dumplings during cooking.
6. The dipping sauce: Vinegar & ginger makes a classic dipping sauce for Xiao Long Bao. However, please feel free to use other condiments if you wish. Homemade Chinese chilli oil works well on its own. Or you can find some inspiration in my post on “Six dumpling dipping sauces”.