I must admit, I'm guilty.....I adore Xiao Long Bao, those wonderful Shanghai style soup dumplings. So here's an batch of Xiao Long Bao:
Believe it or not, it's from our kitchen. A few weeks ago, I planted a little seed in the Missus's mind. One of the sites that I visit quite often is eatingchinese.org, and Gary Soup does an excellent job of finding interesting links and articles on Chinese food. On the site is a link to a Xiao Long Bao Tutorial. I mentioned this to the Missus, who immediately said "uh-uh, no way, don't know nothin' about making Xiao Long Bao." But understanding that "dough" and "dumplings" are so basically entrenched in the Missus's fate, a few weeks later she asked me to print out the Xiao Long Bao recipe....and we were on our way.
So what follows is a very "broad" interpretation of that recipe. There are other recipes out there, but we decided to use the Chinese recipe as a guide. Again, it was just a guide. I'll be documenting what we did, and what the results were. It was quite "interesting".
There are many variations on the "soup" for soup dumplings. Some use chicken feet, pork "skin", or other items. We chose Pig's feet. There was also an item in the recipe to "congeal" the soup. The Missus didn't quite know what it was, but later with some help, we determined it was Agar-agar.
So on Friday we made "aspic".
Pig's Feet (Hock) Aspic:
2 Pork Hock/Leg(Pig's Feet)
8 Cups Water
4 Stalks Green Onion(bruised and roots removed)
2 3" Fingers of Ginger Smashed
1/2 Cup Shaoxing (Chinese cooking wine)
2 Tb Agar Agar
1 - Set a pot of water to boil.
2 - Once boiling, place pig's feet quickly in the water for 10-15 seconds to allow removal of "scum" on pigs feet.
3 - Rinse and scrub well.
4 - Place in pressure cooker and cover with water. In this case 8 cups.
5 - Add greens onions, ginger, Shaoxing, and white pepper to liquid.
6 - Close pressure cooker and bring to "high heat", once high heat is attained, lower temp to maintain high pressure for 45 minutes.(Approx a two hour simmer on a conventional stove) After 45 minutes let the pressure drop normally for 15 minutes, then quick-release pressure. The meat should just fall away from the bone.
8 - Place broth into a large pot or "wok" and defat. Bring broth to a simmer and add agar-agar. To add agar-agar first get a ladle of broth and add agar powder and start mixing. Slowly lower agar into broth and gently mix until fully incorporated(no "glops" or lumps).
9 - Remove from heat.
10 - Cool, then cover and refrigerate.
So now you've woken and are totally "psyched" about making some Xiao Long Bao!
So while the Missus was making the "dough", I made the Ginger-Scallion Water from the recipe.
1 - Placed ingredients in blender.
2 - Pulse until all ingredients are "chopped"
3 - Strain and place water aside.
The dough? Well, I'm sorry, but the Missus does it all by "feel". What she can tell me is that according to the instructions, she used a combination of high-gluten flour and all-purpose flour, along with cold water. She then kneaded until it formed a "dough" and no longer stuck to your hand. Then allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes.
While the dough was resting we made the filling:
1 - Combine Ground Pork, Pepper, Salt and Sugar (twice the amount of sugar then salt), and Soy Sauce.
2 - Stir Pork mixture in one direction while adding Ginger Scallion water until the filling is saturated and achieves a "pasty" texture.
4 - Make sure the cubes are small - we also added egg yolk to bind.
I then left it to the Missus to roll out the dough and form the dumplings. And boy did I feel for Her. You see, in order to form the dumplings, the dough had to be "stiff", to the point it was really difficult for Her to roll out.
When we had enough, I started steaming them.
I thought they looked great, and they also stood up to the heat well.
So what did we learn? Well first of all, I never thought I'd ever say this, but there was too much soup, so we need to adjust the ratio. Also, I don't think we needed as much Agar, there was enough gelatin in the pig's feet, we would only need about maybe 1/2 tsp. The Missus was disappointed in her inability to get the dough thin enough, and I felt for her; the dough was so "stiff" and hard to roll out. We'll work out the kinks in the future. She thought the dough was much too thick, so maybe this is where we get a pasta maker......
I still managed to eat 2 dozen. The filling was tasty. And we had alot of fun making this.