Traditionally called xiao long bao (pronounced shau-long-bow in mandarin) these flavorful purses of soup are one of Shanghai’s most popular street foods.
The magic inside each Chinese soup dumpling is a pocket of gelatinized broth. When steamed, the broth gelatin melts to create savory purses of delicious hot soup. In this broth recipe, we use agar agar powder, a natural vegetable gelatin counterpart that is obtained from red algae. Discovered in Japan in 1658, agar agar has become a popular gelling agent in many Asian cuisines.
Though these do take a little time, anyone can create delicious Xiao Long Bao from home. If you’re new to Chinese cooking, find all the speciality tools you need with this Chinese Soup Dumpling Kit.
Chinese Soup Dumpling Recipe
Prep Time: 2.5 hours
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 24 Dumplings
1 cup bread flour (unbleached)
1/2 cup all purpose flour (unbleached)
10 Tbsp. boiling water
1 1/2 tsp. canola oil
1 piece diced bacon, raw
1” knob fresh ginger, peeled & sliced
1 green onion
1 1/2 cups chicken, pork, or beef broth
1/2 tsp agar agar powder (included in kit)
1/4 pound ground pork (full fat is best)
1/4 pound raw shrimp, peeled and minced
1/2” knob fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp white pepper powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 1.2 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp. Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
Step 1: Make the Dumpling Dough
1. Measure and mix the two flours in a large bowl.
2. Combine boiling water and oil in a separate dish. (Water MUST be boiling)
3. Add the hot liquid mixture to the flour and stir until dough begins to form. Press dough together into a ball, transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. Add additional boiling water or flour to achieve the proper consistency. The dumpling dough should be soft, stretchy, and pliable, yet strong.
4. Place the dough in a plastic bag and seal it well, pushing out all of the excess air as you close the bag.
5. Let the dough rest at room temperature for 1 hour before using.
Step 2: Make the Soup Broth
1. Combine all broth ingredients, EXCEPT for the agar agar powder in a small saucepan.
2. Bring to a boil and cook, uncovered, for about 8 minutes, or until the broth has reduced by half. You should end up with around 2/3 cup.
3. Taste, and adjust with salt, if needed.
4. Strain the soup, discard the solids, and set aside to cool and concentrate for 15 minutes.
Step 3: Add the Agar Agar Powder
1. Measure out 2/3 cup of the broth and return to the saucepan. Over medium-high heat, whisk in the agar agar until all the powder dissolves. Bring the broth to a boil and turn off the heat.
2. Pour mixture into something close to an 8” x 8” baking pan or shallow dish to make a thin layer that will cool quickly and be easy to cut up.
3. Refrigerate mixture for 20 to 40 minutes until it is completely cooled and set.
4. Run a spatula along the edges to loosen and remove from the pan. Chop the mixture into 1/8” cubes, and set aside.
Step 4: Mix the Filling
1. Combine all filling ingredients into one bowl, mix well.
2. Add the refrigerated broth jelly cubes that were created in Step 3. Be sure the cubes are mixed in evenly.
3. Store filling in refrigerator until you’re ready to assemble.
Step 5: Roll Out The Wrappers
1. Remove the rested dough from the plastic bag. When you poke it with your finger, the dough should slowly ease back into position.
2. 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 that it doesn't dry out.
3. Roll the other half into a 10-12” log and cut into 12 equal pieces. Roll each cut piece into a ball and then flatten into a disk with your palm.
4. With a dough roller, roll out each disk until it is about 1/8” thin, 4” in diameter, and is thinner on the outer rim.
Step 6: Assemble the Dumplings
1. Delicately take a wrapper and hold it in your slightly cupped hand. Using a small spatula, scoop about 1 Tbsp. of filling and place in the center.
2. 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: Gently Steam
1. Bring approximately 2” of water to a boil in a skillet or a pan large enough in diameter to accommodate a bamboo steamer.
2. Line bamboo steamer trays with parchment or chinese cabbage to prevent the dumplings from sticking. Place the assembled dumplings in the steamer about 1” apart.
3. Steam each batch of dumplings over boiling water for 6–8 minutes.
4. Serve immediately, but be careful—the soup is lava hot!
We want to know - where did you have your very first Chinese soup dumpling that got you hooked? For us, it was at Din Tai Fung in Los Angeles, and we've been obsessed ever since!