Monday, January 11, 2010

Xiao Long Bao

You know how China is always like, "Oh, we totally invented everything.
Paper? You'd still be writing in the sand if it wasn't for us. Pandas? We did it. Gunpowder? Boom! Pizza? Us too."

And you're always just like, "What?"

And then China is like, "We invented everything, dummy."

And then you're like, "Uh China, nobody likes a show-off and anyway I don't believe you."

But I really hadn't been giving China its fair due--they invented xiao long bao which are some of the most savage dumplings I've come across. They have, get this, soup inside them. Like, we've all seen dumplings in soup but xiao long bao turns that idea right on its head and gets the soup inside the dumpling.

Eating Xiao Long Bao:
The first step is getting the dumpling into your bowl. This is not easy because one false move with a chopstick can break the skin and drain the soup. I have gotten quite good at getting these into my mouth on my own, but when confronted with the pressure of four sets of Hong Kong eyes watching me, I caved and broke the dumpling.

Even once you've gotten it onto your spoon, getting one of these into your mouth can be a delicate operation, dependent on both the size of the dumpling and the size of your mouth. The most ideal method of eating one of these is to insert the entire dumpling into your face and then biting down to release the soupy goodness. This is not possible in many cases as the dumplings are too big.

Biting the top off was suggested to me and isn't a bad method. Really the goal is to eat the soup and the dumpling at the same time, without losing too much of the soup into your bowl or down your chin. Not an easy feat. The other possibility is to eat a whole order of them alone and with your fingers, wondering why a food that is from Shanghai is so good in Hong Kong.

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