LOTI COOKS | XIAO LONG BAO

Going out for dinner to celebrate Chinese New Year is all well and good but why not take it up a notch by cooking up your very own feast at home? Start with these Shanghai-style pork and crab xiao long bao from Head Chef A-Zhong at Plum Valley in Chinatown. We’ve actually tried this recipe out ourselves, so we’ve included some of our own little tips with instructions below.

What You Need, Makes 40 Dumplings

For the soup jelly:
1lb pork ribs
3-5 spring onions (cut into 1-inch pieces)
2 thumb-sized pieces of ginger (unpeeled, thinly slice into strips)
2 tbsps Shaoxing wine (Chinese rice wine)
6 cups water
1 tsp salt

For the pastry:
250g medium strong flour
130g water
2g salt

For the filling:
250g minced pork
50g crabmeat
25g spring onion
25g ginger
2g salt
3g chicken powder
6g sugar
5g soy sauce
10g Shaoxing cooking wine

What You Do

1. Make the soup jelly. Place the pork ribs into a stock pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil. Cook for about 2 minutes or until foam starts to float to the top. Empty the content of the pot into a colander and rinse the bones thoroughly with cold water. Clean the pot thoroughly as well.

2. Return the cleaned pork ribs back into the cleaned stock pot. Add spring onions, ginger, wine, and water. Bring the pot to a boil then reduce heat to a low simmer. Occasionally skim the surface of any foam that floats to the top to keep the stock clear. Simmer on low for about 1.5 hours or until liquid reduces to half. Season with salt.

3. Strain liquid into a 13×9 inch baking dish and discard the solids. Cover with plastic and chill in fridge until set (at least two hours). Once set, cut a crosshatch pattern into the jellied soup.

We couldn’t get our jelly to set properly – we think there was still too much water in the mix – so either cut down on the volume of cold water you add along with spring onions and ginger or reduce it for way longer.

4. Make the pastry. Combine the ingredients together, stirring in the water slowly and knead to form dough. Roll out into a thin sausage and cut into small cubes, the size of a 50p piece. Then press each into a round, thin circle to use later. (Can use rolling pin).

Keep that flour to hand as the dough mix is quite elastic to begin with and it will stick. And go a bit bigger on the circles so you can roll them out thinly and still have room to get the filling in.

5. Make the meat filling. Mix all the ingredients together.

6. Assemble the dumplings. Mix the meat filling with the diced soup jelly in the proportion of 1:1. Place the filling in the middle of the round pastry and fold (this is the hardest part, a good xiao long bao should have between 16 and 20 folds).

As we had soup jelly issues, we didn’t do the xiao long bao shape – instead we went for a potsticker style fold (which also happens to be much easier).

7. Place in a basket and steam your xiao long bao for 4 and a half minutes.

If you don’t have a bamboo basket, a metal steamer will do the job. And if you don’t have one of those, you can just fill a pan with about four fingers of water, place a bowl inside (make sure the water level doesn’t reach the top otherwise it’ll overflow), place the dumplings in the bowl and cover the pan with a lid to steam. Thanks to the lady in Huy Minh Supermarket on Mare Street for that top tip.

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