小籠包 are referred as soup dumplings in English, because aspic is also included in the filling. Aspic is a gelatin made from stock or naturally found in the meat. When the 小籠包 are steamed atop napa cabbage in the bamboo basket, the aspic melts into soup! This is where the dough is important, because a good dough will not break apart, keeping the juicy goodness retained inside the buns.
|Freshly steamed 小籠包 at home <3/ See the pool of soup on the bottom? It means one of the buns popped :(|
My favorite 小籠包 I've eaten at restaurants is pork w/ minced crab meat. At Koi Palace, they serve a whole dungeness crab with the 小籠包 (see 2nd page on the menu). You delicately dip the buns in the Chinkiang vinegar or red rice vinegar with ginger slivers, and slurp the entire thing in your mouth! It's so satisfying to taste the sweet and savory flavors from the soup and meat filling burst into your mouth! :) Personally, I prefer eating this rather than a dumpling soup; it's a dumpling soup in every bite!
Have you tried 小籠包; what do you think of this unique bun? What are your most favorite dumplings?