Shanghai Xiao Loong Bao 小龍包

If you ever been to Shanghai or Beijing, I am sure you have eaten these Chinese dumpling pouch enclosing a soupy stuffing. The first time I tasted it, I have been fascinated by how did they enclosed so much juice inside the dumplings. The secret is actually gelatin. In the old days, gelatin has to be prepared from boiling pig skin for about 7- 8 hours. Fortunately we now have processed powder gelatin readily available in the market.
Next is the wrapper skin which was mainly plain flour and water without any leavening agent. If you understand plain flour, then making Xiao Loong bao(s) is not be difficult. The technique is very much similar to making Lamen, Chinese noodles, Roti Canai or Pot Sticker 锅贴. The trick is after mixing the flour with water, you just rest the knead and rest the dough as long as possible so as to break down the gluten and to have a soft and pliable dough.
The first few dumplings which I made, the skin was a bit thick which I later adjusted and the dumplings was perfect.

The Broth Gelatin
1 tablespoon of unflavored gelatin
1 or 2 kg of Chicken bones

Boil the Chicken bones to make soup.
When the soup is ready. Scoop 2 or 4 cups of the soup to flavor the Gelatin. Save the rest of the soup for dinner..
Heat 2-4 cups of the chicken soup in a pot. When just about to boil , turn off the heat and add gelatin.
Whisk for 2 minutes until all the powder is dissolved. Pour broth into a plastic container.
Refrigerate until set, about 3-4 hours.

1. Take out the broth gelatin prepared earlier, you can either run a fork through it, with criss-cross motion, to break up the gelatin into very small pieces and add about 1 1/2 cups of the broth gelatin to the mixture. Mix well
2. Cut the gelatin into 1/4" and wrap the minced meat round it. ( I used this method cos it is not so wasteful on the minced meat)
3. Refrigerate until ready to use.

The Fillings
You can use any fillings of your choice creation. I used minced meat mixed with carrots and mushrooms.

Make the Bao skin
(makes about 40 dumplings)

400 gm of all-purpose flour
180ml boiling hot water
60ml cold water
1 tablespoon cooking oil

Put the flour in a large mixing bowl. Pour hot water in the flour about one third at a time and mix well.
Add cold water and oil to form a smooth cohesive dough.
* The ratio is about 2 parts of water to 1 part of flour very much similar to making chinese pot sticker- 锅贴.

Leave it alone for 20 minutes. Giving it 20 minutes rest will break down the gluten and when you start to knead, you will get a smooth dough in no time. Then knead for about 10 mins
If you are kneading by hand knead for about 20 minutes with a 10 minutes rest time in between until it becomes soft, smooth and bounces back slowly when you poke with your finger.

Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for another 50 minutes or 3 to 8 hours or overnight. The longer you rest the dough the softer the wrapper skin.

* If you are in a hurry, you can cheat by adding 1 or 2 tbsp of low gluten flour like Cake flour or Superlite flour. Remember they do not have such processed flour in the old days.

Shape dough into balls. Put each ball on a wax paper square. Roll each ball out into a circle. Put 1 tablespoonful of prepared meat gelatin mixture in the center of each circle, and wrap dough around filling.

Bring water to a boil in wok, and reduce heat to medium; the water should still be boiling. Transfer as many Bao on wax paper as will comfortably fit onto steam-plate leaving 1 to 2 inches between the baos. At least 2 inches space should be left between steam-plate and the wok. Cover wok with lid. Steam for 15 minutes.

The Dipping Sauce
2 tablespoons of sambal (hot chili & garlic sauce)
1/2 cup black vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon of shaved ginger

For more info please also visit my website Xiao Loong Bao

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