This is a hacky way of making my childhood favorite dim sum. My mother laughed at all my cop-out's, but was delighted at the result. Truth is, while xiaolongbao is an ubiquitous Shanghai specialty, a lot of locals have never actually made it themselves because the traditional way is quite time consuming.
In a nutshell, the soup was added to the dumplings by cooking down pork or chicken collagen until you get a thick enough broth that gelatinizes when cooled. The solid soup jelly is then chopped up and mixed into the meat, which is then wrapped into the dough. When steamed, the jelly dissolves into soup again at high temperature, and you have soup dumpling.
To save you hours of cooking and chilling, my shortcut is to add gelatin into store-bought broth. To further reduce chilling time, warm up only half of the broth needed, dissolve bloomed gelatin in it, and stir in the remaining cold broth into the mixture. This will cool down the mixture a lot faster. My broth was set in about 30 minutes in the fridge.
The dough should require minimum kneading (about a minute or two of active kneading). Resting will make the dough very easy to knead until smooth. Passing it through a pasta roller will give you consistency on thickness of the wrapper, and avoid any breakage. I cut mine with a cake ring for consistent sizing. It looks goofy but it guarantees satisfactory outcome for first timers!
You can use powdered agar agar, vegetable broth, and plant based protein, for a vegetarian soup dumpling.
For the dough:
200g flour (~1 2/3 cup loosely packed*)
1/2 tsp salt
110g hot water (~ 1/2 cup)
For the meat filling:
1/2 lb ground pork
1 tbsp shaoxing wine
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp grated ginger
1/4 tsp white pepper
For the gelatinized soup:
1 tbsp cold water
1/2 tsp powdered gelatin
1/2 cup chicken broth
*Note: when measuring flour or dry ingredients, the most reliable way is loosely spooning flour into the cup and level off the top. This way 1 cup of flour should be 120g~125g (as stated on flour package nutrition facts, serving size 30g or 1/4 cup). But if you're scooping, even if you don't think you're purposefully packing everything tight, they will come out weighing more. When I weighed scooped flour they come out about 150g a cup.
Start with the soup: bloom the gelatin by dusting it over cold water. Warm up 1/4 cup chicken broth in the microwave for a minute. Dissolve bloomed gelatin in the warm broth. Add another 1/4 cup cold broth to the mixture, stir well. This will speed up the cooling process, and allow the liquid to set in about half an hour. Chill the broth in fridge.
Now make the dough. Stir together flour and salt. Add in half a cup of very hot water, and keep stirring until you get big lumps. Dig in with your hand and form a rough dough. Don't bother kneading yet. Just wrap it in clear film and let it rest for 20 minutes, it'll be a lot easier to work with after resting.
Meanwhile make your meat filling. Mix together ground pork, sugar, soy sauce, shaoxin wine, sesame oil, salt, onion powder, grated ginger, & white pepper. Keep stirring in one direction until meat forms a paste. Now check if your gelatin broth is set. it should have a jello like consistency. chop up the broth jelly into little cubes and mix them into the meat filling. Stick the meat filling back into the fridge. It'll be easier to work with cold.
Now knead rested dough until smooth. Shouldn't take more than a minute or two. Cut the dough into smaller portions. Pass each portion through a pasta press. Start on the thickest setting. if dough looks rough out of the pasta roller, just tri-fold it and put it through the pasta roller again, repeat a few time and it will become very smooth. Gradually dial down the thickness. don't go all the way down to the thinnest, my pasta roller setting goes from 8 to 1, and I stopped at 3, which is somewhat thin but not paper thin.
Using a 4 inch cake ring, or a jar lid, and cut out circles from the rolled out sheet. Using a rolling pin, roll each circle from edge toward the center. You want the edge thinner than the center so the wrapping process will be easier. Roll each wrapper until they're about 5 inch in diameter.
Using a cookie scoop, scoop about a tbsp of filling into the wrapper. Let it sit on the counter and lift the edge to fold little pleats. Pinch the dough at each pleat. Each dumpling should have about 16 to 20 pleats. Give it a twist at the end. you can pinch up the top, after pressing out air around the meatball. for beginners, leaving it open helps preventing breakage, by allowing the steam to escape.
Steam for 6~8 minute, until the dumplings puff up - that means the inside is steaming hot and you're ready to eat. Enjoy!
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