General Discussion

Soup Pork Dumplings

Should a great Shanghai soup dumpling / xiaolongbao contain oozing soup from the pork filling (directly), or via a congealed gelatinous spoon of soup inserted?

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Should a great Shanghai soup dumpling / xiaolongbao contain oozing soup from the pork filling (directly), or via a congealed gelatinous spoon of soup inserted?

K K | Apr 13, 2010 01:19 PM

Most of you know what a xiao long bao is (others loosely use the term soup dumplings).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xiao_lon...

So if you know them, Nan Xiang, Jia Jia, Din Tai Fung, amongst others are globally known names.

In NY, Spring Deer/Joe's Shanghai is uber famous. For LA there's also a branch of Din Tai Fung but there's also many other non brand name favorites like JJ, Mei Long Village, or the mom and pop shop. In San Francisco Bay Area, it's pretty much Koi Palace, Yank Sing (both interestingly dim sum places that excel in them), plus many other Shanghai spots.

Earlier I was watching this youtube clip of this Hong Kong TV and media personality, who is known as Ah So. Without getting too much into her background she did a lot of work in Hong Kong radio and hosted a lot of TV shows, mostly the more well known ones about food. She is also infamous for being rude and extremely arrogant in her speech, extremely critical of food (especially badly done expensive food, even if considered cheap), and in a sense gained her acclaimed status.

One remark she made and I will translate it

"The difference between a properly done xiaolongbao (and baozi) is that the properly done xiaolongbao will create and exert ample soup from the natural juices of the pork filling. That is how you tell if the chef is doing his work properly. A badly and improperly done xiaolongbao is where the chef inserts a congealed/gelationous mini spoon of soup with the filling into the bao then steamed, so the gelatin melts and becomes soup".

That is quite the bold statement. Does that mean that Nan Xiang (as featured on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservation Shanghai episode) that does gelatin into soup, is incorrect/lazy/not as good?

Is the gelatin method prevalent across the US supposed best Shanghainese restaurants that do XLB well? Is it even possible to do a proper XLB where the soup is not manually inserted but created from purely steaming and creating the right pork filling mixture?

On top of that, she says that if you can taste the difference between (without knowing what goes inside the kitchen) what is inserted as soup into the XLB versus the soup that comes naturally from the meat filling, then you're qualified to talk about food (in the loose sense). Cocky yes....agree or disagree?

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