It’s New Year – the fourth day of the New Year of the Dog, in fact. Around New Year – and especially at midnight on New Year’s Eve – it’s compulsory to eat dumplings.
There’s all sorts of dumplings, but one of the finest is Shanghai’s traditional xiao long bao. Xiao long bao differ from other dumplings because of the delicious liquid inside them.
There’s a right way – and a wrong way – to consume the delicious broth inside the dumpling. London’s Time Out recently caused a stir by showing a video purporting to be a ‘how-to-eat” guide to these saucy treats – but the sauce exploded everywhere. They took down the video.
The video on this page will show you how to eat xiao long bao, and also the chefs at the restaurant where they were invented making them. You should make a little whole in the pastry with your chopsticks and sip the steaming soup. (I’ve burnt my mouth numerous times as the liquid is piping hot!)
A shorter video showing the dumplings being made.
I’ve tried these delicious dumplings in many places – the taste and texture of the meat vary. I had some Xiao long Bao at a restaurant in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley yesterday. They were made by a chef from Shandong. Although the pork filling was delicious, sacrilegiously, almost, there was no liquid meat broth inside!
xiao long bao小笼包 means little basket parcels . 包 bao, means wrap, and 包子 baozi are a common breakfast dish, bigger than dumplings or 饺子jiaozi.
Since 笼 long, sounds like 龙 long, dragon, you’d be forgiven if you thought these delights were called Little Dragon baozi – I did for a long time. You’d be in good company if you did. The famous Emperor Qian Long of the Qing dynasty visited Wuxi, a town not far from Shanghai, sometime in the 18th Century, and became quite fond of xiao long bao. As Qian Long’s nickname was “Little Dragon”, many people started referring to the dumplings as Little Dragon Dumplings ( still pronounced Xiao Long Bao)!
Whatever you want to call them, they are one of the most delicious dumplings you are ever likely to taste!
Happy New Year of the Dog to all Spaceship China readers – and may dumplings visit your menu often!