After reading rave reviews, restaurant recommendations for NYC, and several recipes, I decided to get into the kitchen and see if I really could make my own Siu Lung Bao.
Siu Lung Bao, for the unitiated, are small purse-like dumplings filled with meat...and soup. My first experience with these juicy delicacies was in Shanghai, where they originated. I was 5 months pregnant at the time and very few things caught at my tastebuds the way these dumplings did. (In defense of the general cuisine of China, these dumplings are served with a dark, sweet vinegar for dipping, thereby tipping the scales SO far in their favor, this pregnant woman could find love for few other things!)
Until the recent rash of Siu Lung Bao blog-hype, I was blissfully unaware of how the dumplings were magically filled with soup. I assumed it was some sort of labor-intensive, ancient process, similar to the crystal balls we purchased in the art market, painstakingly painted with landscapes and animals...from the inside.
With my trusty little sister at my side (along with a promise from my mother and husband that they would finish any dumplings I could manage to turn out), I started out. The process wasn't as difficlt as I imagined, but it didn't turn out as I'd imagined, either. The recipe, in my opinion, calls for far too little soup "jelly". My dumplings were all-but dry inside, the soup having been absorbed by the wrappers.
When I ran out of wrappers, I mixed the remaining soup gelatin into the remaining meat mixture, more than doubling the soup called for in the recipe. That mixture was put into the freezer to await another day of dumpling making. I'll let you know how it turns out!