What sounds better than a hot piping soupy piece of meat enclosed in a thin layer of flour goodness? Nothing. The Xiao Long Bao is an undebatable king of Dim Sum and no one can refute that.
As mentioned, the Xiao long bao is a steamed dumpling that contains meat swimming in a broth. Its name is derived from the unique cutlery it is served in- small steaming bamboo baskets.
This dish originated in Nanxiang, a suburb of Shanghai in the Jiading District, but has expanded to many countries including our very own little red dot. Chinese restaurants like Crystal Jade and Din Tai Fung sell their very own renditions of this delicacy. Supermarkets even produce frozen versions for the stay- at- home moms to whip up for dinner.
Personally, this dumpling is one of my favourite dishes to munch on. Coupled with a cup of warm Chinese tea, you’ll be surprised at how comforting the meal can be, as the warmth from both the dumpling and the drink awash your throat as it makes its way down to your gut.
There are no rules to eating xiao long bao, but there are definitely some ways to munch on this dish without making a mess. You could pop the whole dumpling into your mouth, but it would be steaming hot and might even scald. My suggestion would be to place the xiao long bao on a spoon, then bite a small hole at the top of the dumpling. By introducing air to the dumpling, it is less likely to spurt out copious amounts of soup. But in the event that soup does spill over once you chow down, it will gather on the spoon and your dish is saved.
The Xiao Long bao is an extremely delicate, but definitely satisfying dish. It will no doubt leave you pining for more, with the salty broth and tender meat filling never seemingly enough. The skin is an art to make- too thick and it will be bland and hard, too thin and it will break upon touching.
I urge you to give a go at the Xiao Long bao and thank me later. First timers will definitely go back for more, and regular eaters- well, are regular eaters for a reason.
Nicolette Kum, 3 Wisdom