Thursday, April 14, 2011


Finally, my last dish for April DC Challenge - One of my "Must try dish" Edible Container. I first learned about this from my nephew who worked in China. I was so intrigued that i had to put this in my "to do list". This has been in my to do list for the longest time and i finally have no excuse not to make it this time. I thought what a perfect dish for the challenge. XLB could be served 2 ways, a huge dumplings with a straw and the ones that i made. There are a lot of recipes around but i made my own version, the inspiration of this recipe is from my "Chinese Cooking" Cookbook.

Xiaolongbao -(XLB) small steaming basket is commonly known as Shanghai Steamed Soup Dumplings, are traditionally filled with broth and pork but i added quail eggs on mine. The broth inside is made by using some meat gelatin w/c melts when steamed.

This type of dish are for those who are really determined. Patience and commitment are imperative! Lots of preparation and definitely a 2 days process.

First step, i made the meat gelatin/soup. A lot of recipes calls for pork bones, chicken bones then add agar-agar or knox. I didn't like the addition of the agar agar so i opted to use pigs feet and chicken feet which i know for a fact are gelatinous and i know i won't need agar agar. I had it in the fridge for a day to congeal.

For the gelatin/soup:

1 lb. pigs feet
1 lb. chicken feet
1 small onion chopped
2 cloves garlic
pinch of salt and white pepper

Wash the bones and add them into a pot of boiling water. Boil for at least 10 minutes and then turn off the heat. Drain and rinse the bones thoroughly this is an important step. The rinsing will give you a clear broth.

Place all ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat until liquid has reduced by half, about 2 hours.

Skim the scum constantly to keep soup clean and clear. Strain stock into a bowl. Discard solids.

Allow the liquid to cool down in the fridge to congeal and form into jelly. The broth can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze for months.

Second step - The following day i made the dough had it rest for 30 minutes as i was making the pork filling. Again some recipes call for shrimp and ground pork but i decided the later only. After that it was assembly time.

For the Dumpling:

1 C all purpose flour
1/2 C boiling water

Put flour into a bowl. Mix in boiling water with a fork or chopsticks. Work dough several minutes until it holds together, then knead on a lightly floured board until smooth and velvety (about 10 minutes).

Cover and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes

Roll dough into a log 24 inches long, cut log into 1 inch lengths, then cut each length in half to make 48 pieces.

Keep remaining pieces covered to prevent drying as you shape each dumplings

Third Step - make the filling

For filling:

1 lb. ground pork
2 dozens quail eggs (hard cooked) - some of my dumplings didn't have the eggs
1/3 C water chestnuts, finely chopped
1 1/2 T soy sauce
1/2 t salt
1/8 t pepper
1/2 t minced fresh ginger
2 t dry sherry
1 t sesame oil

Combine pork, water chestnuts, onion, soy, salt, pepper, ginger, sesame oil and sherry until well mixed.
Fourth Step - Cook quail eggs

Check for cracked eggs. Wash eggs and place your eggs in a pot, cover with enough water and bring to a boil for 5 minutes max. Cool egg under running water. Gingerly crack the shells around then start peeling. Peeling is easy when you crack the shells.

 Fifth Step - Assemble the dumplings.

Roll out each piece of dough into a thin round shape and place a spoonful of the filling in the center including at least 2 or 3 "gelatin broth" cubes and a quail egg.

Gather up the edges, pleating them together, then bring to a point, pinch together and twist to give the right shape. Flatten the bases so that they will stand upright

Obviously i had a hard time pleating them especially the ones w/ the egg on it.

Place on baking sheet. Repeat the process covered with moist towel to prevent dumplings from drying.

You can refrigerate or freeze some at this stage.

Prepare the steamer

Line each layer of bamboo steamer basket with cabbage leaves ( cabbage will give extra flavour), wax paper or parchment paper; place over wok filled with enough water to reach just below bottom of bamboo steamer basket. Place dumplings making sure they are spaced apart to prevent the dumplings from sticking to each other, otherwise you'll have a mess and leakage. Steam for about 15 minutes over high heat until done.

Serve immediately with the dipping sauce.

Mine looked totally different from the pictures of the XLB. I think i need to pleat about a hundred for me to perfect XLB!! LOL!!

For the Dipping Sauce:

1/2 C vinegar
1/2 C soy sauce
1 t sesame oil

Well...perfect pleated dumplings or not...they are "The Bomb"....i added the dipping sauce into the dumplings. Wow!!! Amazing that you get to have your soup inside a dumpling. EAT THEM WITH CAUTION THO' THEY ARE PIPING HOT!!!

I love, love it but if you ask me will i make it again? Perhaps on special occasion!  okay, are the reasons.
1. Can i say...LABORIOUS!!! Too much work can you believe that! lol!!!. I had a hard time with the pleating!!
2. These needs to be served right off the steamer otherwise you will loose the broth. I believe it's absorbed by the dough because i didn't have any leak on the steamer nor on the plate.  SO NOT GOOD FOR PARTIES.
3. Let's just say I'd leave this to the experts! I rather sit down, order lots of XLB's and enjoy them. But if you haven't tried or tasted these and you're up to making them no matter how long the process will be...go for it!!! It's really good!!!


  1. I am so blown away by this.
    And, no, I won't be trying to recreate (too lazy, and too afraid of failure!) but I would love to try this in a restaurant.
    I haven't seen all the entries yet but I reckon I will be voting for you.

  2. I agree, they are like jewels, so pretty. All three delicious edible containers are exceptional.

  3. Beautiful and oh so complicated.. i bet they taste so good!

  4. Like I said in the forums, we are so often on the same food wavelength. Did you serve these with a straw?

  5. Thank you so much, Please Do Not Feed The Animals. You're right...i'd definitely order this at a dimsum or Chinese restaurant and enjoy the dumplings. As to making them!

  6. AMAZING! I'm secretly loving the crispy skin. So not healthy, but oh so delicious! Great job!

  7. Oggi, thank you! your edible containers were delicious as well..your mac n' cheese has been calling my name;)

  8. Hi, Kim! yes they are oh so good. Not so complicated actually it's a lot of work as in a lot of work to do;)

  9. Thank you, Robert! ;) I thought of making a big dumpling after making my last batch just because i got tired of making tons of little ones but i didn't have enough gelatin broth. I was thrilled thinking of how it was to use a straw w/ your hot soup! lol!

  10. LOL! Thank you Family Spice! secret no more! ha!ha!ha!

  11. ALL of yiour bowls looks delicious and gorgeous, but I'm especially in love with the noodle bowl and dumplings. SO creative! Beautifully executed and photographed too!