How to Cook Steamed Xiao Long Bao
Nothing beats the perfect pouch of soupy goodness that we’ve come to love from xiao long bao. Although steaming xiao long bao is straightforward, there are a few important steps to remember before getting started!
3 key elements to steaming the perfect Xiao Long Bao
The operative word in soup dumpling is ‘soup.’ So naturally, the cooking process should highlight and preserve the integrity of the soup.
Dumplings all over the world can be found boiled, pan-fried and in some cases, deep-fried. However, the pairing of a delicate, tender wrapped xiao long bao with a refreshing mouthful of soup calls for a more gentle approach.
Steaming creates a high-temperature, moisture-rich environment that quickly cooks both wrapper and filling. Without the abrasive, water-logging effect that a vigorous boil can have.
Although you can pan fry xiao long bao in a jiffy, we recommend trying the traditional method of steaming. It allows you to experience the well balanced complexion of broth, mince and wrapper before adding oil and the maillard reaction (read: seared, brown, crispy bits).
These three key elements will ensure your XLB are nice and brothy:
- Separation of dumpling and steamer
- Start from boiling
- Cooking duration
A common mistake is to cook the dumplings directly on the steamer. This will result in the dumplings cooking onto the steamer, and tearing open upon retrieval. That’s the last thing you want.
To prevent this, you will need to use a food-safe liner such as XCJ’s perforated parchment liners or a cabbage leaf (or any comparable vegetable). You can use a pinch of cooking oil to grease the steamer. We find this to be messy and adds unnecessary oiliness - but you know what they say: the best steamer liner is the one you have.
Don’t forget to preheat your cooking instrument! This cooking faux pas will leave you disappointed. Make sure the water is boiling to ensure consistency and repeatability to achieve a juicy soup dumpling.
Finally, don’t forget to use a timer.
If your dumplings cook for too long, they will expand and eventually burst, losing all their soup--be kind, do time.
If you’ve just received your dumpling delivery, make sure to move them to the freezer and keep them frozen until you’re ready to nosh.
What you will need:
- Liner: steamer sheet, cabbage leaf or some cooking oil
- Steamer: Bamboo Baskets + wok or Steam Rack in a pot with a lid
- Chopsticks or tongs
- Soup Spoon (trust me, you need it)
- Frozen XCJ Dumplings
What you will do:
- Put your pot or wok of water on the range and bring to a boil
Prepare your steamer basket or rack by placing your liner down. Next, place your dumplings down with one inch of separation between each one
- When water is boiled, carefully put your steamer in place and steam for 10 minutes.
- Warning! Steam burns are no fun--use the appropriate protection and/or wait until your setup has cooled sufficiently to handle and serve.
- Once cooked, you can eat them straight off your steamer or carefully place them onto a serving dish. Let them cool for at least 1 minute before eating to A) protect your mouth and B) allow them to rest for handling, as they will be most delicate right after cooking.
Okay, so we won’t judge if you scarf these down, burning your mouth in the process.
But if you care for tradition, use your chopsticks and gently place your dumpling on your soup spoon--the bigger the better. Nibble a small hole into the side of the dumpling, allowing steam to vent and soup to fill the bowl of your spoon. Now you can choose your plan of attack; blow-to-cool, slurp immediately, dip in sauce, etc.
Don’t have dumplings to steam?
Let’s fix that. Click here for XLBs! Our dumplings are always made fresh to order.
Xiao Chi Jie is a Chinese Street Food inspired restaurant located in Bellevue. We deliver frozen soup dumplings so xiao long bao lovers can eat fresh, restaurant quality dumplings at home.