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Dumplings: Tips, Techniques, Recipes

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#1 NeroW

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Posted 22 January 2003 - 07:31 PM

Hi everyone,

Please don't think I'm an idiot, but I have a question about dumplings. Also, if I am posting in the wrong place, redirection is welcome!

I am making dumplings with shredded cabbage, tree ear/black Chinese/button mushrooms, and leeks for a party this weekend. I wonder if I can do them in advance, and if so, how far in advance? I am using purchased wrappers and I am afraid they will stick or get v. soggy if I let them sit for too long.

Also, what mushroom combos are good? My Midwestern grocery store ACTUALLY has some things besides regular mushrooms for once, and, there was an Asian grocery opened a few weeks ago :laugh: I have not tried too many combos but I love, love mushrooms. Any advice?

Thank you very much!
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#2 eatingwitheddie

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Posted 22 January 2003 - 09:21 PM

I am making dumplings with shredded cabbage, tree ear/black Chinese/button mushrooms, and leeks for a party this weekend.  I wonder if I can do them in advance, and if so, how far in advance?  I am using purchased wrappers and I am afraid they will stick or get v. soggy if I let them sit for too long.

Also, what mushroom combos are good?

About preparing dumplings ahead of time:

I sometimes make dumplings but often make wontons. I too am concerned about them holding their shape and sticking. I usually make a batch of 50 wontons at once. Some advice:
1) If you can, do it with a friend or two. Makes the work fun and much less tedious.
2) As I shape my dumplings I lay them out on a clean, flat surface -- usually on a dinner plate -- taking care that they don't touch each other. After the plate is full, say with 10 dumplings, I put it in the freezer unwrapped and let the skins harden. When this is just starting to happen, perhaps after just 10-20 minutes, when they are firm enough to handle without misshaping them, I gently loosen each one from the plate and then return them to the freezer to harden a little more. Ideally I'd like them not to freeze all the way through and then cook them while they are still fresh. However I frequently prepare them a few days ahead of time. Once they have hardened, after about an hour, transfer the dumplings to a zip lock bag. They are extremely easy to access this way.
3) For your filling use plenty of dried black mushrooms that have been well soaked. Save their soaking liquid and add and reduce it into the filling. This reduction will give your filling a more intense flavor.
To cook: I would sauté some ginger and garlic in 1T veg oil and then add the cabbage and leeks. Cook them with a little salt until they give up their water. If there is a lot of vegetable liquid pour it off, and if it is just a little, reduce it. After you do this, add all the mushrooms and some of their soaking liquid and sauté over high heat, taking care not to brown anything, and cook until the liquid is almost dried up. Flavor the filling with a little cooking sherry, salt, white pepper, MSG (if you like -- a good idea for a vegetarian filling), a little soy, a teaspoon of sugar, and toss in some chopped scallion right at the end. Finally add a dash of sesame oil. It should be strongly flavored because it will be eaten together with the skin that will make it less intense.

#3 Bux

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Posted 22 January 2003 - 09:32 PM

I haven't made dumplings in a long time, but I usually keep a few packages of dumplings from my butcher in the freezer. When I made dumplings, I think I sprinkled a litte corn meal on the plate or worktable to keep them from sticking to the surface. That might work with Ed's suggestion of putting them in a freezer on a plate and make it easier to remove then from the plate. I think freezing them is a good idea if you want to make them in advance.
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#4 NeroW

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Posted 22 January 2003 - 09:37 PM

Thank you for the advice! I guess I am confused RE the difference btw dumpling and wonton. I will be using wonton skins and I have a little wonton-maker tool. I suppose that means I am making wontons. I was going to use rice wine vinegar in addition to the ginger & garlic you mentioned, also Sichuan pepper salt, as the new grocery had the Sichuan peppercorns. On that note: what other applications are there for the Sichuan peppercorns? I am greedy for this knowledge :biggrin:

One more thing: MSG powder is something I have not used. Do you know if mushrooms have their own MSG?

Edited by NeroW, 22 January 2003 - 09:40 PM.

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#5 eatingwitheddie

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Posted 23 January 2003 - 04:03 AM

Thank you for the advice!  I guess I am confused RE the difference btw dumpling and wonton.  I will be using wonton skins and I have a little wonton-maker tool.  I suppose that means I am making wontons.  I was going to use rice wine vinegar in addition to the ginger & garlic you mentioned, also Sichuan pepper salt, as the new grocery had the Sichuan peppercorns.  On that note: what other applications are there for the Sichuan peppercorns?  I am greedy for this knowledge  :biggrin:

One more thing: MSG powder is something I have not used.  Do you know if mushrooms have their own MSG?

I wouldn't flavor the dumpling filling with vinegar or szechuan peppercorns but would suggest you make a soy based dipping sauce using both. Try something like 4T soy, 3T water, 1 T sugar, 1 T vinegar (regular vinegar works well -- but this is a good place to use black Chinese Chengkong rice vinegar if you have some available), 1 clove minced garlic, 1t minced ginger, a little sesame oil, and some (a little) of your Szechuan peppercorn salt.

MSG is sold under the brand name 'accent' in the spice section of most grocery stores. If you find it and want to use it, it will add a nice savory and tasty quality to your filling. You can still make the dumplings taste quite good without the MSG.

Dumplings and wontons are similar but with different shapes, skins and fillings.

By the way, Szechuan pepercorn salt is meant to be used as a condiment for dipping roast and fried foods into. It is usually made quite easily at home and I have never seen it sold prepared already. To use Szechuan peppercorn as a flavoring agent in a dish we usually just use straight peppercorns which have been briefly warmed ('toasted') in a dry wok for a minute and then crushed with a mortar or in a little spice grinder (chop them with a knife if you lack this equipment). Send me some. We can't buy them in the US any longer! Illegal! Stupid!

#6 NeroW

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Posted 23 January 2003 - 08:04 AM

E--

Hmm. I bought mine in the US. Maybe they are something different? They came out of a little bin, in a plastic baggie, bulk foods-style. ?? Now I wonder what they are?

Thanks again for the tips, I will use them.
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#7 tissue

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Posted 23 January 2003 - 08:29 AM

If you are using napa cabbage, you might need to drain out some of the liquid it gives.

If you can find shau shin wine instead of cooking sherry... it would be better.

#8 Miss J

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Posted 05 February 2003 - 05:20 AM

I am going to try my hand at wontons tonight for the first time. My filling will be based on ground pork and ginger, and I bought fresh (large-ish) wonton skins for the wrapping.

My recipe describes soaking the ginger in water, then stiring the ginger-flavoured water into the ground pork until it is absorbed. (I'm sure there's more, but it's cleared out of my head already.) I haven't tried this yet, but I'm wondering if this is going to lead to a wet filling that makes it difficult for me to successfully seal my wontons. Does anyone have experience with this water-in-pork technique? Any suggestions before I start?

#9 eatingwitheddie

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Posted 05 February 2003 - 05:55 AM

I am going to try my hand at wontons tonight for the first time. My filling will be based on ground pork and ginger, and I bought fresh (large-ish) wonton skins for the wrapping.

My recipe describes soaking the ginger in water, then stiring the ginger-flavoured water into the ground pork until it is absorbed. (I'm sure there's more, but it's cleared out of my head already.) I haven't tried this yet, but I'm wondering if this is going to lead to a wet filling that makes it difficult for me to successfully seal my wontons. Does anyone have experience with this water-in-pork technique? Any suggestions before I start?

MAKING WONTONS

We often stir a little water into a dumpling filling to make it juicy. I find that a generous amount of ginger and scallion are one of the keys to making a tasty filling. I usually don't infuse them into liquid but prefer to mince them finely and add them directly. You might also want to consider infusing them into a little rice wine or sherry if you don't want the water.

I would suggest flavoring your pork with salt, white pepper, a touch of sugar, MSG (if desired), ginger, scallion, egg white, a little soy (kikkoman would be my choice), a tablespoon of sesame oil, a tablespoons of rice wine or dry sherry, a little cornstarch, and if you have it and like it any or all of the following: a little finely chopped reconstituted Chinese mushroom, a little chopped waterchestnut and/or some chopped fresh cilantro.

It's best if you start with coarsely ground somewhat fatty pork. Combine everything in a mixing bowl and then, this is very important, mix the filling vigorously. I use a large wooden spoon, and suggest stirring in a circular motion for about 5 minutes. You want the filling's texture to change and 'tighten' up. By the way it's this mixing which will help absorb the water that concerns you. Should you find the mixture is still too loose just add a little more cornstarch.

Now I'd suggest making a test wonton to check the flavoring. It will be cooked when it floats to the surface and puffs slightly. Taste and correct the seasoning. In order to make the filling quite tasty it is necessary to season the 'farce' with a generous saline component (salt/MSG/soy sauce) as well as enough ginger and scallion.

#10 Ruth

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Posted 05 February 2003 - 01:00 PM

I had totally forgotten that the peppercorns (shouldn't it be Sichuan?) are not available here. Fortunately I brought some very fresh ones back with me. I like to shake them through a sieve after toasting and grinding them to get rid of all the bits of gritty black seeds which have no flavor.When I make the peppercorn-salt mixture I prefer three to one instead of the traditional one to one which I find much too salty. Add them to soups, stocks and sauces for a little extra zip. We are all very prone to using typical Chinese ingredients only when we prepare Chinese dishes. Star anise can give a new layer of flavor to sauces for duck and squab a does a little Chinkiang vinegar in a sauce or vinaigrette for fish.

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#11 Miss J

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Posted 06 February 2003 - 04:51 AM

Ed - thanks for the wonton tips. My wontons turned out very well last night, although I'm resolved to find thinner wrappers for them as the ones I bought lacked that great "silky" mouth feel.

Londoners - any ideas on where to get good, thin wonton wrappers?

#12 eatingwitheddie

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Posted 06 February 2003 - 05:11 AM

Ed - thanks for the wonton tips. My wontons turned out very well last night, although I'm resolved to find thinner wrappers for them as the ones I bought lacked that great "silky" mouth feel.

Londoners - any ideas on where to get good, thin wonton wrappers?

You're welcome.

Ed

#13 Shiewie

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Posted 03 June 2003 - 02:17 AM

The Chinese Dumpling Festival (also known as the Dragon Boat Festival) is celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month - which falls on 4th June this year.

What is your favourite Chinese dumpling? Do you like the sweet or savoury ones?

#14 tonkichi

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Posted 03 June 2003 - 08:09 AM

1. Cantonese style with loads of yellow lentils, dried scallop, fatty pork, salted egg yolk and dried mushroom.

2. "Nonya" style with a sweetish pork mixture

3. Sweet red bean paste dumplings.

#15 tissue

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Posted 03 June 2003 - 08:27 AM

I like the Shanghai style, with a big fatty piece of pork in the center.

#16 herbacidal

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Posted 03 June 2003 - 11:08 AM

1. Cantonese style with loads of yellow lentils, dried scallop, fatty pork, salted egg yolk and dried mushroom.

2. "Nonya" style with a sweetish pork mixture

3. Sweet red bean paste dumplings.

those last two sound really good.

the cantonese style one i'm not so sure. Would you know what part of Guangdong they would be from?
I've never heard of them personally.
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#17 tissue

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Posted 03 June 2003 - 11:53 AM

Taiwanese style has peanuts in it.

#18 Jason Perlow

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Posted 03 June 2003 - 12:02 PM

I'm also partial to the Shanghainese kind -- soup dumplings as well as the circular pan fried kind, which I call "Crunchy puffies".

Although, I love basically all kinds of Dim Sum. There really isnt a Dim Sum dumpling I dont like.
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#19 Jinmyo

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Posted 03 June 2003 - 04:29 PM

I can't think of one I don't like.

Shu mai are pretty great though.
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#20 ecr

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Posted 03 June 2003 - 06:58 PM

Crunchy Puffies are usually swimming in grease but I love them anyway. Cut the grease with plenty of vinegar.
Are we talking dumplings only or buns too here? My favorite of the former are thin-skinned pork-filled small ones floating in a Sichuan chili oil mixture (la jiao, sugar, soy, sesame oil, Sichuan peppercorns). Of the latter, best char sui bao I ever had was at a Bangkok market, surprisingly --- chewable chunks of mushroom, pork, and other stuff, just moistened with a zesty char sui sauce.

#21 Shiewie

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Posted 03 June 2003 - 08:27 PM

The Chinese dumplings eaten during the Dumpling Festival are made of glutinous rice with various different kinds of filling, some of which Tonkichi has described. They are wrapped in bamboo leaves (Hainanese ones are wrapped in banana leaves - tropical island so banana leaves are more plentiful?) into little pyramids or pillows, sort of like tamales.

The Dumpling Festival is celebrated in remembrance of a famous poet who was also a minister in the emperor's court. He was framed and banished from emperor's court and subsequently committed sucide by drowning. When the people heard that he had drowned, they trawled the river to search for his body and beat loud drums and gongs to scare away the fish from eating the poet's body.

Failing to find the body, they threw rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves into the river, hoping that the fish in the river would eat the dumplings instead of the poet's body.

Posted Image

The Cantonese style rice dumpling that Tonkichi described is readily available in Malaysia and Singapore - with slight variations by each cook. The ones I like are quite plain, just fatty pork, salted egg yolk and split green beans (luk tau) encased in glutinous rice that is wrapped into a little pyramid with bamboo leaves which is boiled for a couple of hours. Sometimes the uncooked glutinous rice is fried with soya sauce, salt and sugar and hence the dark rice pyramid you see in the picture.

The filling in the Nyonya dumplings is a mixture of miced pork, chopped candied winter melon (hebce the sweetish taste that Tonkichi mentioned), chopped peanuts fried with herbs and spices. Some of the rice is also stained blue with colouring from the blue pea flower (bunga telang).

The yellow dumplings are the sweet dumplings called "kan sui chung" (alkali water dumplings - lye is added to the water the dumplings are boiled in). Besides the ones with red bean filling that Tonkichi mentioned, they also come plain and are eaten with a treacle and palm sugar syrup.

#22 tommy

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Posted 04 June 2003 - 05:46 AM

soup dumplings. hands down. in fact, i rarely eat any other, as they are so often doughy, and unbalanced flavor/texture-wise.

#23 tissue

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Posted 04 June 2003 - 07:32 AM

The Chinese dumplings eaten during the Dumpling Festival are made of glutinous rice with various different kinds of filling, some of which Tonkichi has described. They are wrapped in bamboo leaves (Hainanese ones are wrapped in banana leaves - tropical island so banana leaves are more plentiful?) into little pyramids or pillows, sort of like tamales.

The Dumpling Festival is celebrated in remembrance of a famous poet who was also a minister in the emperor's court. He was framed and banished from emperor's court and subsequently committed sucide by drowning. When the people heard that he had drowned, they trawled the river to search for his body and beat loud drums and gongs to scare away the fish from eating the poet's body.

Failing to find the body, they threw rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves into the river, hoping that the fish in the river would eat the dumplings instead of the poet's body.

Posted Image

The Cantonese style rice dumpling that Tonkichi described is readily available in Malaysia and Singapore - with slight variations by each cook. The ones I like are quite plain, just fatty pork, salted egg yolk and split green beans (luk tau) encased in glutinous rice that is wrapped into a little pyramid with bamboo leaves which is boiled for a couple of hours. Sometimes the uncooked glutinous rice is fried with soya sauce, salt and sugar and hence the dark rice pyramid you see in the picture.

The filling in the Nyonya dumplings is a mixture of miced pork, chopped candied winter melon (hebce the sweetish taste that Tonkichi mentioned), chopped peanuts fried with herbs and spices. Some of the rice is also stained blue with colouring from the blue pea flower (bunga telang).

The yellow dumplings are the sweet dumplings called "kan sui chung" (alkali water dumplings - lye is added to the water the dumplings are boiled in). Besides the ones with red bean filling that Tonkichi mentioned, they also come plain and are eaten with a treacle and palm sugar syrup.

This is more like a tamale than a dumpling.

#24 herbacidal

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Posted 04 June 2003 - 12:18 PM

The Chinese dumplings eaten during the Dumpling Festival are made of glutinous rice with various different kinds of filling, some of which Tonkichi has described. They are wrapped in bamboo leaves (Hainanese ones are wrapped in banana leaves - tropical island so banana leaves are more plentiful?) into little pyramids or pillows, sort of like tamales.

The Dumpling Festival is celebrated in remembrance of a famous poet who was also a minister in the emperor's court. He was framed and banished from emperor's court and subsequently committed sucide by drowning. When the people heard that he had drowned, they trawled the river to search for his body and beat loud drums and gongs to scare away the fish from eating the poet's body.

Failing to find the body, they threw rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves into the river, hoping that the fish in the river would eat the dumplings instead of the poet's body.

Posted Image

The Cantonese style rice dumpling that Tonkichi described is readily available in Malaysia and Singapore - with slight variations by each cook. The ones I like are quite plain, just fatty pork, salted egg yolk and split green beans (luk tau) encased in glutinous rice that is wrapped into a little pyramid with bamboo leaves which is boiled for a couple of hours. Sometimes the uncooked glutinous rice is fried with soya sauce, salt and sugar and hence the dark rice pyramid you see in the picture.

The filling in the Nyonya dumplings is a mixture of miced pork, chopped candied winter melon (hebce the sweetish taste that Tonkichi mentioned), chopped peanuts fried with herbs and spices. Some of the rice is also stained blue with colouring from the blue pea flower (bunga telang).

The yellow dumplings are the sweet dumplings called "kan sui chung" (alkali water dumplings - lye is added to the water the dumplings are boiled in). Besides the ones with red bean filling that Tonkichi mentioned, they also come plain and are eaten with a treacle and palm sugar syrup.

This is more like a tamale than a dumpling.

oh, those dumplings!

i've always called them rice cakes in english, for lack of a better word.

problem with that is, there really are so many chinese "rice cakes".

the same can be said of dumplings, of course.

i was actually remarking to someone that i forgot it was today/yesterday (here/asia).

but tamales is a better description than anything, because of the wrapping thing, plus less common. okay, that's my new term for it.
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#25 chengdude

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Posted 04 June 2003 - 01:50 PM

The Chinese Dumpling Festival (also known as the Dragon Boat Festival) is celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month - which falls on 4th June this year.

What is your favourite Chinese dumpling? Do you like the sweet or savoury ones?

Dumpling Festival? Can someone explain the origin of that term? I thought it was Duanwujie, or the Double Fifth Festival, and sometimes, Dragon Boat Festival. I'd love to take a quick straw poll on where "Dumpling Festival" is used. The dumplings/tamales typically eaten on this day are called zongzi.

For my vote, I'll go with sweet...I haven't quite learned to love the salty, fatty meat and glutinous rice combination. However, in baozi, jiaozi, and dim sum, it's a different story...

#26 herbacidal

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Posted 04 June 2003 - 03:04 PM

Dumpling Festival?  Can someone explain the origin of that term?  I thought it was Duanwujie, or the Double Fifth Festival, and sometimes, Dragon Boat Festival.  I'd love to take a quick straw poll on where "Dumpling Festival" is used.  The dumplings/tamales typically eaten on this day are called zongzi. 

For my vote, I'll go with sweet...I haven't quite learned to love the salty, fatty meat and glutinous rice combination.  However, in baozi, jiaozi, and dim sum, it's a different story...

there's probably all kinds of names, as far as english.
If you think about it, for many Chinese terms (ingredients, occasions, etc.), there's names that have emerged as romanized pronounciations and others that have emerged as something closer to translations.
For the former, think tofu, for the latter, bean curd.

there's another chinese name i think i remember learning for Dumpling/Duanwujie Festival, just can't remember specifically what it was.

just think about Mooncake Festival, or based on the translation, Mid-Autumn Festival.
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#27 Shiewie

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Posted 05 June 2003 - 12:07 AM

Dumpling Festival?  Can someone explain the origin of that term?  I thought it was Duanwujie, or the Double Fifth Festival, and sometimes, Dragon Boat Festival.  I'd love to take a quick straw poll on where "Dumpling Festival" is used.  The dumplings/tamales typically eaten on this day are called zongzi. 

The term Dumpling Festival probably originated from a combination of the various Chinese dialects and colloquial English spoken in Malaysia and Singapore. Zong / chung / chang is commonly known as dumplings here - don't think many here would have heard of tamales. Dumpling Festival is probably a literal translation of "Chung Cheet" in Cantonese.

#28 Ruth

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Posted 08 June 2003 - 08:39 AM

I cannot recall ever having met a well-made Chinese dumpling I did not like. Favorites? Yes, the soup dumplings, particularly the shrimp ball soup dumplings I had in Shanghai and have found nowhere else, but also chive dumplings with that special kick that makes them unique.
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#29 gus_tatory

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Posted 10 July 2003 - 09:03 PM

i also don't think there's a dumpling i wouldn't eat--such a pleasure.
i love the crowd-pleasers: shiu mai, har gau, but i also love another 6-8 ones i don't know names for... :shock:
question: the "soup dumplings" people so often speak about--what is it about the anglicized name? are they dumplings eaten *with* soup? i have not been lucky enough to try them. description?
thanks!
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#30 Shiewie

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Posted 10 July 2003 - 09:34 PM

question: the "soup dumplings" people so often speak about--what is it about the anglicized name? are they dumplings eaten *with* soup? i have not been lucky enough to try them. description?

Soup dumplings are also known as Xiao Long Bao (or Siu Loong Bao in Cantonese). They are little Shanghainese steamed pork (or pork and shrimp) dumplings filled with soup. The soup squirts out when you bite into them. They're usually eaten with julienned ginger and black vinegar.





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