Sunday, September 28, 2008
Xiao long bao – Shanghai Soup Dumplings
1 pound chicken wings
2 chicken backbones (carcasses from roast chicken will work too)
1 pork trotter (foot) or a large piece of pork skin
3 1/4 inch thick slices of ginger
4 green onions
1 star anise
8 cups of water
3 C all purpose flour
1/3 C hot water
2/3 C cold water
Pinch of salt
1 pound ground pork
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice wine
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp sugar
2 C gelatin stock, chopped/mashed into small pieces
Fresh ginger slivers
Make the aspic
When working with pork feet make sure to wash it well, then boil it twice in a change of water to get the smell, bacteria, and scum out. If you're using raw chicken wings and backbones, it's best to boil those once too to get any scum out. Add the pork feet to a pot (large saucepan, stock pot, Dutch oven whatever works) and cover them with water and bring it to a boil. Boil for a minute, drain, and rinse off any scum on the feet in cold water. Wash out the pot as well or use a new pot because there will be scum on the side. Return the pork feet, and the raw chicken wings and backbones to the pot and fill with cold water and bring back to a boil again and boil for a minute. Drain and rinse off any scum and wash the pot again
Add 2 teaspoons of oil to your pot over medium heat. Smash the ginger slices and green onion with the side of a knife and add to the oil and until they are fragrant, then add boiled and rinsed off chicken wings and pork feet, 1 star anise, and 8 cups of cold water. Bring to a boil then simmer gently uncovered, skim any scum on the surface, for 6+ hours. Never let the soup boil again because it will cloud. The stock is ready when it can solidify at room temperature. Test the stocks gelling ability by spooning some of it into a small bowl and allow it to cool down to room temperature. If it solidifies then the stock is ready. Strain soup and season it with some salt. Set aside 2 cups for the dumpling filling. Save any excess for adding to sauces or soups. Let the soup cool to room temp then transfer it to the fridge. The soup can keep for up to 3 days in the fridge. You can scrape off any fat that solidifies on top or mix it into the filling, up to you.
Make the dough
In a large bowl, add 2 1/2 cups of flour. First add the 1/3 cup of very hot water and stir that into the flour. Then add the 2/3 cup of cold water and stir it into the dough. Bring the dough together and knead while incorporating additional flour if you need to, until the dough is not sticky. Don’t overknead or it will be too tough and gluteny to work with. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest for an hour while you prepare the filling.
Prepare the filling
Mix the ground pork with all of the seasoning ingredients. Roughly chop the aspic then use a pastry blender or two forks to mash it into smaller pieces. Mix this into the ground pork mixture. Keep it in the fridge until the dough has finished resting.
Wrapping the dumplings
Divide the dough into 3 portions. Work with one portion and keep the other two covered. Roll the dough into a long snake. Then cut a small cylindrical piece off of the snake. Flatten with your palm and roll the dough out into a 2 1/2 inch diameter wrapper. The best rolling device for making Chinese wrappers is a small wooden dowel thats about 6 inches long and 3/4 inch in diameter.
The first 4 pictures in the eating Chinese xiao long bao tutorial shows the process of making the dough and wrappers. You want the wrappers to be a bit thicker than wonton wrappers. If the wrappers are too thin, the soup will dissolve it and leak out.
Place about 2 teaspoons of filling in the center of the wrapper. Hold the outer edge of the wrapper with the thumb and index finger of your dominant hand. Using the other thumb and index finger, hold the edge of the wrapper and bring it to your dominant hand to pleat. Pleat around the circumference of the entire wrapper, turning the dumpling as you go, and seal the tip to close. The third and fourth pictures in the third row of the eating Chinese xiao long bao tutorial gives a somewhat helpful guide. The hardest part for me was getting my thumb out of the inside of the dumpling and sealing the tip.
Steam and serve
Bring some water to a boil in a wok or large pot with a steamer insert. Line a bamboo or metal steaming basket with cabbage leaves or damp cheesecloth. Place the dumplings in the basket and steam on high for 5 – 7 minutes. (5 minutes was enough for my dumplings but make sure the filling is cooked all the way before eating)
Serve hot with ginger slivers and black vinegar.