Soup dumplings are near and dear to my heart. I grew up on them and loved it every single time. My family tired of waiting on lines to get to these delectably soup filled pork dumplings in restaurants so my mom found a store that sold them frozen in bulk. Bingo! They were good! Porky, savory, good! Unfortunately, they also broke very easily. The delicate dough never seemed to freeze properly. But we still went back and bought bags and bags of them. But one day, they closed and didn't give any notice of what would be to come. And that ended my supply of soup dumplings. It was back on the lines waiting for a tray of these steaming hot joys of life. As I grew up, I've become more and more adventurous in my cooking. And for some reason, I've decided to put it on myself to recreate many Chinese dishes that I grew up with. No recipe, no direction. Just from pure memory. Some were successes. Others, not so much. But one thing was for sure, I wanted to make soup dumplings.
You see, I'm an avid dumpling maker already. Every year, I'll sit down with a huge supply of marinated pork and different vegetables. I'd sit and wrap every single one, then freeze them individually. Then pack them into bags for long storage in the freezer. The supple would last me the year. It would take me hours to make it but it was worth it every single time. So this year, I challenged myself and looked into soup dumplings. Lucky for me that I actually found a couple of recipes to help me. The first recipe that I tried is from Serious Eats. I read it over and over again to make sure that I could pull off something like this. And it seemed doable. So I went and prepped the work (it took a few days). And on the day of trial, I invited the Feisty Foodie and AbnormousCheese to taste test. They happily obliged.
A few days before taste testing, I need to make the rich broth. I've head of people taking regular stock and adding gelatin and others using aspic. I wanted to make everything from scratch so I followed the Serious Eats recipe for the stock. First, I placed the chicken wings in a large stock pot.
Then I added the aromatics. I chopped up some green onions/scallions.
Here are some whole black peppercorns.
Overall trial #1 was pretty successful. I was happy with the progress that I had made but I obviously needed more work. Lucky for me, I have enough ingredients for at least 2 more trials. I want to get to a point where the dough is thin and smooth and the soup is luxurious. Hopefully, I will get to this by trial #3.
Oh and a word of advice, this is a very labor intensive recipe. I stood pretty all day kneading dough and wrapping dumplings. I was fine but it's not for the easily frustrating kitchen individual. However, if you're adventurous and determined like me and willing to try and try again, please attempt it. Maybe you'll figure it out on the first time!
The Serious Eats recipe is below:
Soup Dumplings (Xiao Long Bao)
Posted by J. Kenji López-Alt, April 15, 2011
serves Serves 6 to 8, active time 1 hour, total time 12 hours
For the Broth:
3 pounds chicken backs or wings
1/2 pound chinese ham or slab bacon
6 scallions, white separated, greens roughly chopped
1-inch knob ginger
1 tablespoon white peppercorns
For the Filling
1/3 pound ground pork
1/4 pound raw shrimp, peeled
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon XiaoShing wine
2 teaspoons sugar
For the Dough:
2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 cup boiling water
Napa cabbage leaves
Combine chicken bones, ham, scallion whites, half of scallion greens, ginger, and white peppercorns in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, remove to a simmer, and simmer for 2 1/2 hours. Strain broth, season to taste with salt, cover, and refrigerate until set into a semi-firm jelly, at least 8 hours.
Meanwhile, combine pork, shrimp, soy sauce, wine, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and remaining scallion greens in a food processor. Process until a fine paste is formed, about 12 to 15 one-second pulses. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Meanwhile, place flour in bowl of food processor. With machine running, slowly drizzle in water until cohesive dough is formed (you probably won't need all the water). All dough to ride around processor for 30 seconds. Form into a ball using floured hands and transfer to a bowl. Cover with a damp towel and let rest for at least 30 minutes.
When broth is gelled, transfer filling mixture to a bowl along with 1 cup of jellied broth (save the rest for another use). Beat or whisk it in until homogenous. Keep filling well chilled.
Divide dough into 4 sections, and each section into 10 small tablespoon-sized balls, making 40 balls total. On a well-floured work surface, roll each ball into a round 3 1/2- to 4-inches in diameter. Stack wrappers and keep under plastic until all of them are rolled out.
To form dumplings, place 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of a wrapper. Moisten the edges of the wrapper with a wet fingertip or a pastry brush. Pleat edges of the wrapper repeatedly, pinching the edge closed after each pleat until the entire dumpling is sealed. in a cinched purse shape. Pinch and twist top to seal. Transfer sealed dumplings to a lightly floured wooden or parchment-lined board.
Place a bamboo steamer over a wok with 2 inches of water. Place over medium high heat until simmering. line steamer with napa cabbage leaves and place dumplings directly on leaves. Steam until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately, being careful not to break them.