RECIPE – Xiao Long Bao (Chinese soup dumplings)

Having never made dumplings before (nor done much Chinese cooking), I decided, if I’m only going to make dumplings once in my life, I might as well go for the holy grail.

So how about a dumpling with meat/prawn filling & soup inside?

There were a few firsts for me, first time making dumplings, first time using a wok & first time using a bamboo steamer.

Mmm… tasty

The question is: how do you get soup inside your dumpling?

Answer: The soup is solidified & added in lumps to the filling – this will then melt & form soup when the dumplings are steamed.

These aren’t your regular pot stickers. You don’t just pop these in your mouth & chomp down otherwise you’ll scald the inside of your mouth with hot soup. These dumplings have a flavoursome pork broth inside, as well as fillings.

It is a very time consuming recipe but very much worth the payoff. They are absolutely delicious! 😀

As I did not have 2 consecutive days over the weekend to dedicate to making these things, I actually spread it over 2 weekends. I made the soup Sunday last week & made the filling, wrappers & actual dumplings 1 week later. I stuck the soup in the freezer during the week – seemed to freeze fine.

There are 5 main parts: The soup, the filling & the wrappers, then comes assemblage & cooking.

Part 1 – Soup (makes approx 4 cups):


  • 1x Pork hock with trotter (I tried to get just the trotter but butcher wouldn’t let me. Alternatively, you could use the hock for German Pork Knuckle Schweinshaxe) – I got the butcher to slice the hock in half coz it was pretty big
  • 1x whole raw chicken (minus head, feet & guts)
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 3x 0.5cm slices of ginger – smash once/twice with the butt of your knife to release the flavours
  • 4x shallots – smash with blunt side of knife/butt of knife to release flavours
  • 1x star anise

  • 8 cups of water

Soup Method:

  1. Wash the pork very well – give it a good scrub & scrape the skin with the back of a knife. Put it in a pot, cover with water & bring to the boil. Tip out the water after it’s been boiling for a minute & rinse pork under running water. (We’re doing this to get rid of scum & impurities from the meat) – always wash the pot afterwards/use a new pot as the old pot will be covered in scum.
  2. Wash the chicken, put the chicken & recently boiled pork into a pot. Cover with water, bring to the boil for a minute then drain again. Rinse chicken & pork under running water & set aside, again we’re getting rid of scum/impurities.
  3. Put 2 teaspoons oil into a large pot over medium heat. Add smashed ginger & shallots until they are fragrant.
  4. Add rinsed chicken & pork, 2 star anise & 8 cups of water.
  5. Bring to the boil, then simmer gently uncovered for the next 6-9 hours. Don’t boil more than once – you want your soup to be clear, not cloudy.
  6. You don’t need to hover around the kitchen, but every now and again, you’ll need to skim off the scum from the top of the soup (white foamy stuff in the above picture) with a ladle. This will help with the clarity of the soup (and remove crap from the soup making it taste better)
  7. After about 3 hours (or when chicken is ready to fall apart), gently remove the chicken. You can eat the cooked chicken or use this for something else – e.g. chicken salad or for other recipes that require cooked chicken (like Chicken Cannelloni).
  8. Keep the pot simmering – I let mine go for about 8-9 hours, skimming the scum about every half hour or so.
    Note: The trotter has natural gelatin which is the jellyfying agent that solidifies the stock for the dumplings.
  9. Your soup is definitely done when you put some of the broth into a bowl & it solidifies when cooled to room temperature – you can always let it go a bit longer though if you’re trying to extract every last ounce of flavour 🙂
  10. When your broth is done, strain it and put it away to solidify. This will make you approximately 4 cups of stock but you only need 2 cups for the dumplings. You can use the rest of the stock to make a soup for noodles with the already cooked pork hock or can just make double the amount of dumplings. 
  11. Once done, let the strained soup cool then stick it in the fridge. In my case, I froze it for a week before resuming the dumpling cooking a week later.
  12. When the soup solidifies, the fat will float to the surface forming a white cover – it’s up to you if you want to keep the fat or scrape it off & bin it before making your dumplings – I kept the fat 😀

Part 2 – The filling:

Filling Ingredients:

  • 500g pork mince – I chose normal mince – you can use lean mince if you want
  • 125g raw prawns – beheaded, peeled & de-pooped – I had to buy 250g minimum from the fishmonger but will use the rest in a garlic, chilli prawn recipe. These were already beheaded & peeled when I bought them.
  • 3x finely chopped shallots – as miniscule as you can get them
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped/grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 cups solidified soup from above – mashed into small pieces with a fork (I think it looks like a giant throat lozenge) 🙂
  • salt & pepper
  • Half a cabbage for steaming

Filling Method:

  1. Finely chop the prawns – mine looked almost like a grey, lumpy paste when I was done with it.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, add some salt & pepper to taste, then mix it all up.
  3. Just a note, it is easier to mash up the solidified soup if you don’t do it on a chopping board like I did. Just keep it in the original container.
  4. I amused myself as I was cutting stock on a chopping board, I wanted the money shot, but there’s no reason for you to do that.
  5. How often do you get a chance to cut stock? I got my cheap thrills, but eventually, I had to put it in a bowl because it was too hard keeping everything on the chopping board.
  6. Anyway, once you’re done mixing everything together, stick the filling back in the fridge while you make the wrappers. Or you can make wrappers first, then make the filling during the sitting time for the wrappers – up to you.

Delicious xiao long bao filling. Yum!

Part 3 – The Wrapper:

Wrapper Ingredients:

  • 500g plain flour
  • 3/4 glass hot hot water
  • 1/4 glass cold water
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • Flour for kneading

Wrapper Method:

  1. Put the flour in a large bowl.
  2. Add a bit of the hot water & stir vigorously with a fork. Gradually add more hot water & stir like hell.
  3. Add cold water & oil & stir until everything’s together
  4. Sprinkle some flour on a surface & start kneading to full incorporate the ingredients. This is usually done on a flat surface, but because I don’t want to wash more things, I just knead in the mixing bowl. If dough is too wet, add more flour, if too dry, add more water.
  5. Knead for about 6-10 minutes, or until you softly poke the dough & it springs back.
  6. Roll into a ball, dust with flour & stick in a bowl. Cover with gladwrap & leave for an hour. Or, you can do this before doing the filling to limit waiting around time – but if you were too efficient, there’d be no time for beer o’clock. 🙂

Part 4: The assembling:

  1. Flour a flat surface – I prefer using a chopping board than the kitchen bench.
  2. Get a quail egg sized piece of dough, flatten it & roll it out very thinly to about 10cm diameter.
  3. Get 1 tablespoon of filling in a ball in the centre of the dough.
  4. Pleat. At least 18 pleats/dumpling – 24 if you’re pro.
  5. Repeat many times over.

Sounds easy, right? Not. Pleating is hard – the first batch looked quite hideous.

Oh the horror! How ugly! First attempt

My friend went CBF on the middle dumpling and stuck it in xiu mai style. In retrospect we decided that was merely the mechanism for us to determine if the steam time was adequate so we could see if the dumplings had cooked.

Mini pizzas anyone? Ok, we were a bit CBF at this point

Note: The first batch had super thick dough wrappers – you need to make them wonton wrapper thin

Another Note: If you roll out all the wrappers first before filling, make sure they don’t stack on top of each other – otherwise that will be time wasted as our wrappers then stuck together again in a giant dough lump.

The wrappers were too thick & needed to be redone anyway. But…

If you keep layers of dough sitting there for a while, it soon turns back into one lump of dough. *sigh*

Anyway, I don’t want to tell you how to pleat because I’m quite bad at it but check out a pro on youtube – it’s a wonderful resource.

My tips:

  • Make sure your wrapper is thin. I liked to roll it with a water glass (didn’t have rolling pin), then use my hands to further stretch out the dough. The edges especially, as I wanted thin edges.

I then used my hands to thin out further

  • The more circular, the better
  • After finishing the pleats, I like to twist the tip in the direction I was pleating in (for me, anti-clockwise) – I found this made sure there wasn’t a wrapper hole in the middle. You could pinch the tip as well, I suppose.

Not too shabby looking. How many pleats?

Xiao long bao looking better in second batch

Part 5 – Finale – Cooking:

First time wok user – fortunately housemate had one

  1. Before you’re ready to start cooking, you want the wok, steamer & cabbage to heat up.
  2. When putting water in the wok, you don’t the water level to touch the steamer – top up between steamings if required
  3. The cabbage needs to soften to make a flat mat for when you need to steam your dumplings so make sure this is done first
  4. Once everything is heated up & cabbage wilted, place the dumplings on the steamer with some space in between.
  5. Cover & steam for about 10-12 minutes or until done.

The first steamed xiao long bao batch

The first attempt didn’t look great, the xiu mai tipped over but you can clearly see some soup in the folds. 😀

And they tasted absolutely fantastic (see The Eating for how to eat & dipping sauce info)

Starting to look like better xiao long baos

The Eating:

Yes, there is a technique to eating these things – the soup is boiling hot, you don’t want to scald your mouth by taking a chomp.

To eat, you need to place the dumpling on a spoon, nibble an edge of dough & slurp out the delicious broth before dipping them in the sauce (black vinegar & ginger slivers) & chopping down.

The leftovers:

I had some of the filling leftover, and I had the wilted cabbage – match made in heaven, I wrapped the filling with the now soft cabbage & steamed it for 12 mins.

Not pretty, but also very yummy.

Anyways, hope you enjoyed, I most definitely did. Xiao Long Bao were super fantastic and the soup inside was divine, rich & sweet. If it wasn’t going to take me 2 whole days to do this, I’d probably do this much more often.

12 thumbs up. 😀


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