Shanghai Xiaolongbao (Steamed Pork Dumplings)

dumplings

Chinese soup dumplings are a special treat when made at home — these savory morsels are the stars of the dim sum parlor. Our recipe, from the Nine Dragons Restaurant at Epcot’s China Pavilion, looks complicated — but take it step by step and you’ll be rewarded with delicious results.

Start by making aspic, which is a savory “jelly” made with chicken stock that melts when the dumplings are steamed to create the “soup” when you bite into each dumpling. The aspic needs to be refrigerated for several hours. Next, make the wrappers, as they need time to rest. (Or buy dumpling wrappers – not wonton or egg-roll wrappers, but dumpling wrappers – at any Asian market.) The pork filling easily comes together.

 

Aspic

2 cups chicken stock

3 stalks green onions, white parts only

2-inch slice peeled fresh ginger

1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (Chinese rice wine) or pale dry sherry

Coarse salt, freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin

 

Dumpling wrappers

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup water

 

Dipping Sauce

1/2 cup Chinese black vinegar

3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons peeled, finely shredded fresh ginger

 

Pork Filling

1 pound ground pork

1/4 cup finely chopped green onion, white part only

1 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoons soy sauce

Pinch coarse salt, freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger

1/2 teaspoon Shaoxing wine (Chinese rice wine) or pale dry sherry

1 teaspoon dried chicken flavor bouillon

Aspic (from recipe above) cut into very small cubes

12 napa cabbage leaves, for steaming dumplings

 Makes 40 dumplings

For aspic:

  1. Heat chicken stock in small pan over medium heat. Add onions, ginger, and wine; cook until stock reduces to 1 cup. Remove from heat and keep warm.
  2. Strain soup and discard solids; season with salt and pepper. Pour 2 tablespoons water into small bowl and sprinkle with gelatin; let stand until gelatin softens, then whisk into broth until dissolved. Transfer to an 8-inch-square aluminum baking pan. Cool, cover, and refrigerate for several hours until set.

 

For dumpling wrappers:

  1. Mix flour and water in large bowl with a wooden spoon until there are no lumps. (If too dry, add a little more water;  should be a little sticky.) Knead into a large ball and cover with a moist cloth. Let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  2. Remove from bowl and knead for 5 minutes, or until dough is elastic and shiny. Add a little flour if necessary. Cover again with a moist cloth for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  3. Sprinkle flour on wooden cutting board and gently knead dough into a long tube, about 1-inch diameter, rolling on cutting board until smooth. Use a knife to cut into small pieces about 1-inch thick for each dumpling. Roll out each piece with a rolling pin into a 3-inch-diameter circle.  Wrappers should be a little thicker in the center and thinner at the edges so that the twist at top is not too thick.

For dipping sauce:

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside until ready to serve.

 

For pork filling:

  1. Combine all ingredients except aspic and cabbage leaves in large bowl and mix with fork just until blended.
  2. Add aspic cubes to pork mixture and stir gently with chopsticks or a wooden spatula. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

To assemble and steam dumplings:

  1. Place wrapper on work surface. Spoon 1 heaping teaspoon of filling onto center of wrapper (make sure to including at least 2 or 3 aspic cubes in each dumpling).
  2. To pleat wrapper: Lightly brush edges of wrapper with water. Bring 1 corner of wrapper up around filling, then pleat remaining edges of wrapper at regular intervals all around filling until filling is enclosed and wrapper forms bundle-like shape with small opening at top. Or simply gather top edges of wrapper together and twist. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.
  3. To steam, line bamboo steamer basket with cabbage leaves and place over wok filled with enough boiling water to reach just below basket. Add dumplings to basket, making sure they do not touch. Cover and steam 10 to 12 minutes, or until pork is cooked through. With each batch, add new cabbage leaves before steaming. Serve immediately with dipping sauce.
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