mushroom XLB soup dumplings

mushroom XLB soup dumplings

mushroom XLB soup dumplings

One of my favorite dumplings to eat are Xiao Long Bao 小笼包 / (XLB / soup dumplings. With the fragile handling of them from the steamer basket on to your spoon, taking care not to pierce the dumpling wrapper until you gently bite into it and slurp the hot soupy goodness. Once you've enjoyed the broth, the rest of the dumpling are bites of comfort.

Translated as "Litlle Basket Buns" they're believed to have originated n the late 19th century in Nanxiang, a district in Shanghai. Restaurant owner Huang Mingxian wanted his dumplings to stand out from his competitors and added aspic (a jellified soup stock) to a minced pork filling. When steamed, the aspic melted back down into a flavorful broth. Needless to say, these dumplings were an instant hit, with customers lining out the door!

It's been hard to find a suitable vegan equivalent and it took many attempts to accurately make this vegan aspic. Hope you enjoy them!

Makes 16-18 pcs

MUSHROOM ASPIC (WITH SOUP STOCK MADE FROM SCRATCH)

(Makes 1 cup)

3 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked for an hour and cut into quarters 

1" slice of fresh ginger, roughly chopped

2 scallion, chopped

1 tsp soy sauce or tamari

1/4 tsp raw cane sugar

1 1/2 cups water (including the mushroom soaking liquid)

1 tsp agar agar powder

2 Tbsp neutral-tasting coconut oil, melted


Place the mushrooms, ginger, scallion, soy, sugar, and water-soaking liquid into a small pot and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and cover the pot. Simmer for 30 minutes. Strain into a frying pan. Bring the broth to a low boil (tiny bubbles) Sprinkle the agar agar powder on the surface of the liquid, gently stirring to combine. Let it boil for 2-3 minutes until the granules have dissolved and it seems slightly thicker. Stir in the coconut oil and transfer to a heatproof bowl. When cool to touch, place the bowl in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight. 


MUSHROOM ASPIC (QUICK VERSION)

1 cup water

1 tsp soy sauce

1 Tbsp mushroom powder

1 tsp agar agar powder

2 Tbsp coconut oil 


Bring the water to a low boil (tiny bubbles). Add the soy sauce and mushroom powder. Sprinkle the agar agar powder on the surface of the liquid, gently stirring to combine. Let it boil for 2-3 minutes until the granules have dissolved and it seems slightly thicker. Stir in the coconut oil and transfer to a heatproof bowl. When cool to touch, place the bowl in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight. 


THE FILLING

8 oz (225g) cremini mushrooms, finely chopped

1 Tbsp neutral oil

1 tsp finely grated/chopped fresh ginger

1/2 tsp Shaoxing cooking wine

1/8 tsp white pepper powder

1/2 tsp salt

Mushroom aspic (above) finely chopped


THE WRAPPERS

1 cup (130g) flour 

6 Tbsp just-boiled water 


TO SERVE

Chinese black vinegar

finely julienned fresh ginger


  • Make the filling: Heat a skillet on high heat and coat the pan with oil. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes until they start to soften. Stir in the grated ginger, cooking wine, white pepper, and salt. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl or plate. Remove from heat and let cool completely before assembling the dumplings.

  • Make the wrappers: Place the flour in a large bowl. Whilst stirring the flour continuously with chopsticks or a spatula, gradually pour in the just-boiled water and stir until the mixture begins to clump together in little clusters. Knead these together until a large ball of dough forms. Turn it out onto a clean work surface and knead for 10 more minutes, or until the dough becomes smooth and elastic (like Play Doh). If it's sticky and too wet, add another tablespoon or two of flour. If it's too dry, add another tablespoon of hot water. Cover the dough with a clean, damp dish cloth and set aside for 20 minutes.

  • During this time, set up a clean and dry work surface where you can also sit down and get comfortable. Combine the chopped aspic in the cooled filling mixture. 

  • On a clean, lightly floured work surface, roll the wrapper dough into a long, skinny piece about 1-inch in diameter and divide it into 16-18 equal pieces. Keep these covered with a damp dish cloth while you're assembling them. Use a rolling pin to flatten each of these pieces and roll them out to 4" (10cm) rounds (it doesn't matter if they're not perfect circles) – try to roll them as thin as possible, around 1/16-inch (1.5mm) thick.

  • Assemble the dumplings one at a time: Place one dough round in the palm of your hand. Place one tablespoonful of the filling in the center of the dough round. Start with creating a fold on the edge of the wrapper and pinch the part closest to the edge so that the fold stays in place. Continue to make folds that slightly overlap one another all the way around the perimeter of the wrapper. Each fold should meet in the center point of the dumpling, so you're wrapping it around – and enclosing the filling. Once you've made as many folds as you can, then twist all the folded edges together to form a point.  Place the assembled dumpling onto a parchment-paper lined tray and continue until you run out of wrappers or filling.

  • TO STEAM: Place the dumplings in a single layer on a steamer basket lined with a thinly sliced carrot, zucchini, or radish round underneath each one. Pour in an inch (3 cm) of water into a wide pot or wok. Place the basket into the pot, ensuring that the water does not touch the dumplings. Cover the basket and bring the water to a boil. Turn the heat down to a medium-low heat and let steam for 7 minutes .


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