Soup dumplings or “xiaolongbao”, also known as small steamed bread, was originally developed from the soup bread of Kaifeng. This soup bread was developed into a soup dumpling first appearing in the very first Chinese restaurant, “Wanhua” in Changzhou in Jiangsu Province, way back during the Northern Song Dynasty.
Changzhou soup dumplings are famous and well-loved snacks not only in Changzhou, but in many places such as Wuxi, Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Jiaxing, Wuhu, Huizhou, Shengzhou in the south.
Changzhou Soup Dumplings, as the name suggests are savory, but Wuxi dumplings are a sweet variety originating in the late Qing Dynasty. Shanghai Nanxiang dumplings in particular, also have a long history and are enjoyed all over China and abroad. Chinese soup dumplings are a popular Chinese snack enjoyed by diners all over the world.
The most important thing in soup dumplings is the juice or ‘soup’, but if there is too much liquid in the filling the dumpling will go soggy and collapse before it is steamed. To solve this problem, I used pork skin stock in jelly form.
To make your own soup dumplings you will need:
- 300 g high gluten flour
- The dough needs to be tough, so use some of the high flour.
- 150 ml water
- 2 g salt
- Salt helps the protein in the flour form a firm and flexible dough.
- 500 g ground (minced) pork
- 350 g pork stock (jelly), cut into small pieces
- 1 x 2 cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated
- 30 g green onion, peeled and chopped
- 15 ml light soy sauce
- 30 ml dark soy sauce
- 10 ml sesame oil
- 10 g sugar
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
Begin by making the filling ahead of time as it needs to sit in the refrigerator for 4 hours to develop the flavors.
Place the ground pork into a bowl and grate the ginger directly onto the meat. Add the chopped green onions, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar and pepper and stir well. Finally, stir in the pieces of pork stock jelly, stirring in the same direction, to combine the pork stock jelly well with the meat, and making the filling more flexible.
Once the ingredients are well combined, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for 4 hours, or overnight.
Put 150 ml of water into a large bowl and stir in salt. Add the flour, and stir with a wooden spoon until the flour reaches a loosely clumped texture. At this point tip the mixture onto your work surface and mix it into a dough with your hands. Keep rubbing until the dough is smooth and elastic.
If you find the dough is a little dry and tough, so not add water, but it inside an airtight container for 5 minutes to allow the gluten to relax.
Divide the dough into 4 equal parts and return the unused parts back into the container so they don’t dry out. Roll out the piece of dough into a long strip 2cm in diameter. Cut the strip into 12 pieces and roll each piece until it is thin and flat.
Each dough round should be about the size of your palm, roughly a diameter of 10-12 cm. After each slice is cut, roll the dough 90 degrees, to achieve even slices.
Take the dough round onto the palm of your hand and put a teaspoon of the meat mixture into the center, leaving enough room around the edges for wrapping the dough up over the filling.
To wrap the dumplings, bring the sides together and fold or pinch the edge of the dough into wrinkles.
Gradually fold and pinch all the way around the filling leaving a small opening at the top.
Add water in the pan for the steamer, in accordance with the size of the steamer basket and place baking paper at the bottom. Poke some holes in the paper for ventilation.
The dumplings should not be placed directly on the base of the steamer or they will disintegrate. If you do not have any baking paper, you can use carrot slices or cabbage leaves.
Place the dumplings about 3 cm apart to avoid them sticking together during steaming. Note: You must use the roll away of the steam, do not put them on while the water is still cold.
Be careful when you eat these dumplings not to burn your tongue as they are very hot inside!
Serve dipped in soy sauce.