What is it?
Translated literally, Xiao Long Bao means “little basket bun” in Chinese. The bite-size dumpling contains minced pork, which is then wrapped in thin flour skin pleated on the top, and steamed in a bamboo basket. The most special part of the Shanghainese delicacy is the rich savoury soup inside the dumpling. The broth is made of chicken or pork broth mixed with gelatin and then chilled to make an aspic. Heat from steaming then melts the gelatin into soup. Traditionally, only pork is used in the filling, but other variations can include crab meat, shrimp and vegetables.
What’s the history?
It originated from Nanxiang, a suburb of Shanghai. Xiao Long Bao used to be a street food before coming so popular that it is ubiquitous in Chinese restaurants around the world today.
When to eat it?
You can order it year round.
What do you need to know before ordering?
You can tell a good Xiao Long Bao by looking at the skin: it should be thin and almost translucent.
Eat with a spoon, so it collects the wonderful hot soup, but be careful as it may spurt out when bitten into. You can enjoy the dumpling on its own or dip it into a dish of shredded ginger and vinegar (which is said to help cut down on the grease, so you can eat more without feeling full).
The best place to eat it?
Taiwanese chain Din Tai Fung has perfected the art of making Xiao Long Bao, with locations around the world. You can find one nearest to you at www.dintaifung.com.tw. If you want to go local, we recommend Jia Jia Tang Bao in Shanghai, 90 Huanghe Lu, by Fengyang Lu.
(Tel: 8621 63276878).
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