©2020 by Sandy Gov from @sandylaoart. Photography by Sandy Gov.
Chinese soup dumplings are such a fun and delicious meal. Foodie and creator, Sandy says half the fun is lifting the soup dumpling from the bamboo steamer without tearing it. If it does tear, no worries. It’s like a game and meal all-in-one. These vegetarian soup dumplings contain all the flavor and fun without the meat.
Though already delicious on its own, xiao long bao is traditionally paired with Chinese black vinegar and julienned ginger. If you don’t have Chinese black vinegar on hand, balsamic vinegar makes for a quick substitute with this soup dumpling recipe. Though slightly sweeter, the acidity still balances the mouth-watering vegetarian soup dumpling well. Enjoy!
If you’re new to Chinese cooking, find all the speciality tools you need with this Chinese Soup Dumpling Kit.
Vegetarian Soup Dumplings Recipe
Prep Time: 2.5 Hours
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Servings: 24 Dumplings
1 inch knob fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
1 green onion
1½ cups vegetable broth
½ teaspoon agar agar powder, set aside
1 cup unbleached bread flour
½ cup unbleached all purpose flour
7 tablespoons boiling water
1½ teaspoons canola oil
½ cup white mushrooms, minced
⅓ cup firm tofu, cubed (about ¼ inch in size) or crumbled
1 egg, lightly beaten, fried and diced
3 tablespoons corn (fresh or frozen)
3 tablespoons carrots, diced
½ inch knob fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 green onion, thinly sliced
⅓ teaspoon white pepper powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1½ teaspoons sugar
1½ teaspoons pure sesame oil
1 tablespoon Shaoxing Chinese rice wine (or substitute dry sherry)
Step 1: Make the Soup Broth
In a small saucepan, combine ginger, green onion, and vegetable broth. Do not include agar agar powder yet.
Bring ingredients to a boil and cook, uncovered, until the broth has reduced by half. This should take about 8-15 minutes depending upon the size of your saucepan. You should end up with around ⅔ cup of broth.
Taste and adjust with salt, as needed.
Strain the soup, discard the solids, then set aside to cool and concentrate for 15 minutes.
Step 2: Add the Agar Agar Powder
Measure out ⅔ cup of the cooled broth and return to the saucepan. Whisk the agar agar into the broth until all the powder dissolves before turning on the heat to avoid clumping. Bring the broth to a boil over medium-high then turn off the heat.
Pour mixture into something close to an 8” x 8” baking pan or shallow dish to make a thin layer that will cool quickly. Something knife safe is handy so you can cut directly in the pan later – less clean up!
Refrigerate mixture for 20-40 minutes until it is completely cool and set. Uncovered or covered both work.
Run the bamboo filling spatula along the edges to loosen. If your pan or dish is not knife safe, remove broth jelly from the pan to a cutting surface. Chop the broth jelly into ⅓” cubes (roughly the size of peas), and return to the refrigerator until needed.
Step 3: Make the Dumpling Dough
In a large bowl, mix the two flours.
In a separate dish, combine boiling water and oil (water must be boiling).
Add the hot liquid mixture to the flour and stir until dough begins to form. Using your hand, squeeze dough together into a ball pressing against the side of the bowl to pick up all the flour. Continue kneading for 5 minutes. Add additional boiling water or flour to achieve the proper consistency. Dough should be soft, stretchy, and pliable, yet strong.
Place the dough in a plastic bag and seal it well, pushing out all of the excess air as you close the bag.
Let the dough rest at room temperature for 1 hour before using.
Step 4: Mix the Filling
In a medium bowl, combine all filling ingredients and mix well.
Add the refrigerated broth jelly cubes that were created in Step 2. Be sure the cubes are mixed in evenly.
Store filling in the refrigerator until you’re ready to assemble.
Step 5: Roll out the Wrappers
Remove the rested dough from the plastic bag. When you poke it with your finger, the dough should slowly ease back into position.
On a floured surface, gently roll the dough into a ball. Cut the ball in half. Put one half back in the plastic bag and seal well so it doesn't dry out.
Roll the other half into a 10" - 12” log and cut into 12 equal pieces. Roll each cut piece into a ball then flatten into a disk.
With the dough roller, roll out each disk until it is about 1/8” thin, 4” in diameter, and is even thinner on the outer rim.
Step 6: Assemble the Dumplings
Delicately take a wrapper and hold it in your slightly cupped hand. Using the bamboo filling spatula, scoop about 1 tablespoon of filling and place in the center.
Use both sets of index fingers and thumbs to pleat and pinch the rim of the wrapper repeatedly to form a closed satchel. Pinch and twist the top to seal – you want the soup to stay inside.
Step 7: Steam the Dumplings
Bring approximately 2” of water to a boil in a skillet or a pan large enough in diameter to accommodate the bamboo steamer.
Line the bamboo steamer trays with parchment liner and place the assembled dumplings in the steamer about 1” apart.
Steam each batch of dumplings over boiling water for 6-8 minutes. If the broth jelly cubes didn’t dissolve, that’s ok! Just steam it for longer next time so you get the soupy xiao long bao experience.
Serve immediately, but be careful—the soup is scalding hot!
Photography by Sandy Gov @sandylaoart.
How do you eat xiao long bao?
There is no right or wrong way but you’ll definitely need a soup spoon to cradle the gentle soup dumpling. Some people like to poke a hole, drain the broth into the spoon to sip, then eat the dumpling separately. A different method Sandy recommends is nibbling off the top to release the hot steam, allowing the Chinese soup dumpling to slightly cool, then enjoy it all in one bite.
How do you like to slurp up your Chinese soup dumplings?