Medicated Soup Dumpling: A Collab with Chron Vivant
Recipe & Photography by Monica Lo
Words by John Korkidis, Chron Vivant
Little known fact: I can speak Mandarin and lived in China for close to 8 years. During my time there I cut my teeth in various creative roles and had the honor of working closely with renowned artist/activist AiWeiwei in his Beijing studio.
Aside from all the inspiring people and close friends, the thing I miss most about China is definitely the food. Since moving to San Francisco, I’ve been able to find nearly all of my favorite dishes, or at least I attempt to recreate the ones I can’t, but there’s one that is almost impossible to find properly executed stateside: soup dumplings or Xiao Long Bao (aka XLB).
I first had these flavor bomb morsels in Taiwan at the original Din Tai Fung location and I’ve been obsessed ever since. When I lived abroad I’d consume a basket or two of XLBs at least once a week. And while Din Tai Fung does have a few locations in North America, the closest one to SF is an hour-drive away with long lines (so while it's well worth the drive, it's not easily accessible). And sadly, I don’t have the first clue of how to make them at home. Let alone infuse them.
But when I learned that my creative role model Monica Lo from Sous Weed was building awareness around the lack of Asian representation in the Cannabis industry by recreating some of her favorite Asian dishes and taking requests for recipes, I had to ask her if she could show me how to make a perfect infused-XLB.
Medicated Xiao Long Bao (小笼包)
Makes 3.5 dozen
Ingredients for Soup Gelatin:
• 1 quart chicken stock*, I used Roli Roti Butcher's Bone Broth
• 5 oz pork skin
• 8 slices fresh ginger
• 2 green onions, cut in half
Ingredients for Pork Filling:
• 1 lb ground pork, the fattier the better
• 1 Tbsp medicated lard, chilled
• 1 1/2 cup soup gelatin (ingredients above), chilled
• 3 Tbsp ginger, finely minced
• 2 green onions, finely minced
• 1 tsp soy sauce
• 2 tsp Shaoxing wine
• 1 tsp Chinese black vinegar
• 2 tsp sugar
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 Tbsp medicated sesame oil
Ingredients for Wrappers:
• 1 1/4 cup AP flour
• 5 Tbsp boiling water
Ingredients for Dipping Sauce:
• 1/2 cup black vinegar
• 3 Tbsp soy sauce
• 3 Tbsp fresh ginger, julienne
Directions for Soup Gelatin:
Make the soup gelatin by bringing chicken stock to a boil in a large stock pot. Add pork belly, ginger, and green onions and boil for 5 minutes before turning the heat down to a slow simmer and covering for 1.5 hours. Strain the solids and discard. Refrigerate the stock until solid and gelatinous.
Directions for Pork Filling:
In a large mixing bowl, mix all pork filling ingredients together by hand, making sure to break the soup gelatin into small chunks. The pork filling should be uniform in the end. Keep chilled in the refrigerator while you make the dumpling wrappers.
Directions for Wrappers:
1. In a mixing bowl with flour, slowly pour boiling water while stirring to form a ball of dough. On a clean surface, work and knead the ball of dough, with floured hands, until the surface is completely smooth, about 10 minutes. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest for 2 hours.
2. Cut the dough into 40-42 pieces and cover with damp paper towels while you work.
3. On a floured surface, roll each ball into a round, about 3 1/2" in diameter. Stack the wrappers and keep under lightly damp paper towels until all of them are rolled out.
1. Remove 1 cup of pork filling from the fridge to work with at a time so the gelatin always stays chilled.
2. Roll 1 tsp of pork filling into a ball and place in the center of the wrapper. Pleat the edges of the wrapper by pinching the edge closed after each pleat, until the dumpling is closed. Pinch and twist the top to seal the soup in. Place the finished dumplings on a parchment-lined board.
4. Keep what you'll eat and freeze the rest on parchment paper, making sure none of the dumplings are touching each other. They'll stick together when frozen and you run the risk of breaking the skin.
1. Line a steamer with napa cabbage leaves or parchment paper. Place dumplings in steamer leaving enough space to expand so that the wrappers don't touch. Steam on high heat for 8 minutes, or until cooked through.
2. Eat immediately using a soup spoon to catch the broth. Serve with black vinegar, soy sauce, and freshly julienned ginger.
*Note: Do not use chicken broth. Chicken stock contains natural gelatin released by simmering bones. By using Roli Roti Butcher's Bone Broth, I skipped the long process of making it myself.