The Shanghai Series: Xiao Long Bao Zi (小笼包)

Xiao Long Bao Zi in the bamboo steamer

Xiao Long Bao Zi are the juiciest steamed buns there are in China. These little snacks of dim sum are made by placing a dollop of meat, usually pork, in the middle of a thin circle of dough. The dough is then folded up and pinched at the top to create that famous ring of wrinkles, and the meat is hidden inside this skin to later be uncovered by a very lucky and soon to be satisfied eater. Don’t fret vegetarians! The middle doesn’t always contain meat; some seafood like crab meat or a jumble of vegetables are used as a substitute. Once all these xiao long bao zi are folded and ready, they are then steamed in a bamboo shoot steamer (xiao long literally means small steaming basket). Once they are hot and steamy, they are ready for consumption. These steamed buns may sound like a dumpling, and often times, they are referred to as dumplings outside of China, but let’s travel to China for this; these are not dumplings! They aren’t crispy but soft and flimsy, and the best part is the soupy middle!

There is a certain technique in eating this soupy steamed bun that only experienced Chinese food eaters will know of, but I’m going to teach you now! Because the middle of the bun is filled with a soup in addition to the filling added, it’s not a good idea to just stick your chopsticks into the bun for simply place it in your mouth all at once. Instead, take a spoon, put your xiao long bao zi on the spoon and now eat. As you let your teeth sink it, the juicy, savory soup will leak out.

The proper technique. Well done!

Now you get the best of both worlds: you experience the yummy steamy bun and the deliciously flavorful middle. It’s always a disappointment when the soup spills out everywhere and you can’t eat it! This is one of China’s finest fun delicacies and maybe one day I’ll bring ‘em in for all ya’ll to try! MMM!

You can even use a straw to suck up the yummy soup!

Song du jour: Bruises by Chairlift-

This song is so cute and so are these cute lil’ morsels of deliciousness. “I tried to do handstands for [xiao long bao zi]..!”



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2 Responses to The Shanghai Series: Xiao Long Bao Zi (小笼包)

  1. Sarah Chang says:

    Tim, I am so with you; I worship Chinese food. Americanized Chinese food is yummy, that’s for sure, it’s like fast junk food. It’s bad, but baby is it soooo good. Real Chinese is full of class, and is something everyone needs to worship. If you’re feeling like gaining a bit of weight and an overdose of grease, go for some Americanized Chinese food! (I love General Tso’s Chicken..) but one cannot deny that quality and deliciousness of real Chinese. I seriously want to cook some and bring it to you all!

  2. Timothy Gleason says:

    Chinese food is one of those things that truly does make the world go around. I am an agnostic, but if there is one thing that proves that miracles do happen it is without doubt chinese food. However, I’ve only ever had Americanized Chinese- basically some sort of meat mixed with soy sauce and MSG (a delicious combination.) Which is better, Americanized Chinese or real Chinese?

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