Xiao Long Bao (Soup Dumplings)
These Shanghainese soup dumplings are one of my favorite Asian fares. The secret to these little buns is how they steam them with the soup intact inside. When you eat the dumpling, a fresh spoonful of soup is waiting for you inside – watch out, it can be very hot!
A wok, bamboo steamers lined with clean (but wiped dry) leaves of Napa cabbage or rounds of parchment paper
For The Soup:
1 pound of pork bones
1/4 pound pig skin
1 quart water
Take a stockpot that fits all of the pork bones and skin. Fill it with all of the ingredients and bring it to a boil. Once it boils, turn the flame down to a simmer for approximately 3 hours so all of the natural gelatin is in the stock. Strain into a large container and cool completely. (You may make this at least 1 day ahead or at most 3 days in the refrigerator. This also may be frozen up to 6 months.)
For the Filling
2.5 pounds fresh lean ground pork (preferably 85%)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 tablespoon salt
4 teaspoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons xiao xing wine
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside until the soup dumpling skins are ready.
1 pound (16 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 pound (16 ounces) low gluten flour (such as pastry cake or cake flour)
Approximately 3 cups warm water (about 90°F to 110°F)
On a clean counter, place all of your flour and form a well with your clean hands. Pour in about 2 cups of warm water into the well and mix with your hands. If it feels too dry, add more water until the dough forms a ball and the dough will stretch as it is lightly pulled. Set it aside and allow it to rest for 20 minutes.
After the rest, portion the dough into about 1.25 ounce pieces and cover them with a slightly damp towel to make sure the dough does not dry. Roll the dough piece into a thin, flat circle (if you need an idea, ideally, it would be about two sheets of paper thick).
Fill each circle of dough, in terms of ratios, 70% meat and 30% soup. In all, you are using about 1.5 to 2 tablespoons of filling in its totality. Adjust accordingly so that your filling will not break your skin. In terms of how to fold, I found this YouTube video decent enough to show how to pleat these dumplings. Once you finish, place the dumpling onto the lined bamboo steamer.
Once you have completed wrapping your dumplings, have the wok set in boiling water and place these baskets to steam for 8 – 10 minutes. Serve immediately and enjoy.