Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Xiao Long Bao Know-How

Xiao long bao, also known as soup dumplings, is a tasty Chinese dim sum delicacy and probably one of my absolute favorite types of dumplings out there. Originating from Shanghai, xiao long bao is steamed in bamboo baskets and served hot. Xiao long bao is extremely delicate to handle and should be eaten immediately. Once they cool, the dough will harden and you lose the flavor and soft texture it is most famous for.

Xiao long bao, fresh and hot from the steamer

Unfortunately, I've seen more than enough tourists try out xiao long bao incorrectly and miss out on the best part of the dumplings: the soup inside! I've seen too much soup spilled out onto the plate of an unsuspecting diner or lost to the bamboo basket that I've decided that the madness must stop. I cannot sit by anymore!

Here is an easy guide to eating xiao long bao, the proper way.

Step 1: Gently grab the top of the dumpling with your chopsticks and slowly peel the dumpling away from the basket. You want to make sure that the dumpling doesn't break!

Step 2: With a spoon ready in your other hand, place the dumpling at the crook of the spoon. This should leave some free space at the front of the spoon.

Step 3: Using your chopsticks, puncture a small hole into the dumpling and allow the soup inside the dumpling to run out onto your spoon.

Step 4: Drink the soup from the spoon and enjoy the hot deliciousness. It will drive you insane! 

Step 5: Using your chopsticks again, dip the dumpling into the special xiao long bao concoction of soy sauce, vinegar and ginger.

Step 6: Place the entire dumpling in your mouth and enjoy!

Soon, you'll be a whiz and enjoying xiao long bao as quickly and easily as this:

I hope this tutorial is helpful to you. I sure enjoyed making this post!

Have you ever eaten xiao long bao before? Were you unlucky enough to lose your soup? Don't worry, it happens to the best of us! Hopefully you'll get to taste xiao long bao again, soup and all!

© Connie Hum 2011


  1. I think that these little bags of shear brilliance have to my own personal favourite discovery of 2010.

    They are the mutts nuts (with a slight resemblance)! Everybody needs to try them.

    And what an awesome GIF animation at the end *wink wink*

    Love it.

  2. @Matt You couldn't get enough! And yes, the GIF animation is pretty cool, I'll admit. (Yes, folks, Matt made the GIF for this post)


  3. Ugh, now I'm craving them. I hope they have them in Taiwan - leaving in 5 days!

  4. @Stephanie I'm almost positive you can find them in Taiwan! Enjoy!!! Just remember: Don't lose the soup! =)

  5. We had Xiao Long Bao in Xi'an. It was delicious and luckily our guide showed us the correct way to eat it. Yummy!

  6. Never tried it! But if I do, I will definitely keep this post in mind.


  7. OH MAN, these things are SO GOOD! Joe's Shanghai!!! And that gif animation is the bomb.

  8. @Dave and Deb That was a good guide!

    @Miss M You MUST try them and DEFINITELY remember this post when you do! They are divine!

    @puhhLEIGHze Oh Leigh, you amateur. Joe's Shanghai is NOT all that good. There's a BOMB hole-in-the-wall that's BETTER and CHEAPER! I don't think the restaurant has a name and I can't remember the street name, but it's on the Little Italy side of Canal on either Mott or Mulberry. It's across the street from the Vietnamese bread place, which, coincidentally, makes AMAZING baguettes. Ask Neil. =) Try it. It will change your life! Promise.

  9. I love Xiao long bao so much. There is a really good place in Flushing, NY. That makes really good Xiao long bao. The line is pretty line but worth the wait. Love your guide, easy to follow through too.

  10. @Sarah Wu Seriously, I have found that ALL the places with the long lines are worth the wait. At least when it comes to food. I guess there MUST be a reason people are willing to wait.

  11. is this at din tai fung?! i've had these amazing soup dumplings at the los angeles location a handful of times and once in kuala lumpur. DELICIOUS!

  12. @traveling thy Nope, Crystal Jade Palace in Hong Kong! They're absolutely yummy!


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