At some point, I will go back to making macarons, but before I do, I’d like to try something easier: xiao long bao, also known as Shanghai soup dumplings. It’s very simple: you roll out a perfectly round, delicate dumpling wrapper and fill it with a ground pork that has been mixed with a gelatinized broth so that, when you steam it, the gelatin melts and you have a pork meatball nestled in a hot spoonful of soup, all held inside a tender-yet-firm wrapper that you bite to slurp out the soup before popping the rest of it into your mouth.
I’m kidding, of course: they are a total nightmare to make.
In most of the recipes, you make the broth the traditional way, with water, chicken bones, pigs feet, pork belly, etc. that gets cooked down and gels naturally. Too much of a hassle. This recipe, on the other hand, just requires canned chicken broth, salt, sugar, and gelatin sheets, which is easier, so that’s what I’m going to use.
The first thing I discovered about this recipe is that 100g of bao flour combined with a cup of water makes a very sticky dough, so I had to add more flour until the dough had a proper consistency. The second thing I learned is that two sheets of gelatin aren’t enough to make the broth gel fully, so I had to add two more.
So much for the easier recipe being the better one. Eventually, however, the broth gelled, and I made the filling. The wrappers, of course, remained the challenge. The first three were too thick, and getting the folds right so that they looked nice was beyond me.
Nonetheless, the things that I took out of the steamer after putting them in to cook were, in fact, soup dumplings, with soup inside. Not very much soup, but some.
The next few wrappers were thinner, although some of them were too thin, and they broke. (You can be too thin.) The ones that held together through the filling and cooking process had the right mouth feel, however, even if there wasn’t much soup in the dumpling. In short, I kind of “get it,” so I’d say these were a qualified success. I need a better recipe and more practice, but the potential is there.