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Xiao Long Bao
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  • Post #31 - August 17th, 2007, 7:33 pm
    Post #31 - August 17th, 2007, 7:33 pm Post #31 - August 17th, 2007, 7:33 pm
    TonyC wrote:Yet no one seems to care about anything but "dim sum" :(


    I care, Tony. Really, I do. :wink:
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #32 - August 17th, 2007, 7:58 pm
    Post #32 - August 17th, 2007, 7:58 pm Post #32 - August 17th, 2007, 7:58 pm
    what exactly does dim sum refer to? is it a similar word like tapas???
  • Post #33 - August 19th, 2007, 8:37 am
    Post #33 - August 19th, 2007, 8:37 am Post #33 - August 19th, 2007, 8:37 am
    Image

    Now THERE'S a juicy bao.

    I managed to get to Din Tai Fung this afternoon and, as advertised, they have some beautiful bao. Super juicy, with just a little bit of meat and a light, delicate bun. The literature says that every bao-maker trains for three months at the original location in Taiwan. It is clearly a meticulous operation, so much so that the entire bao prep area is encased in glass and visible from three sides. The fellow at the beginning of the assembly line was filpping off marble-sized bits of dough from a long coil using his fingers, and he'd toss every tenth bit onto a digital scale, I can only presume to assure that he was maintaining a perfectly uniform size. Technically speaking, these things are a marvel. That said, I think I actually prefer the ones I had at Ye Shanghai a few nights back. Though a little more meaty and not quite as delicate, the flavor had a little more oomph that overcame any miniscule shortcomings for me.

    Edited to update photo link
    Last edited by Dmnkly on October 27th, 2007, 9:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    Dominic Armato
    Dining Critic
    The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com
  • Post #34 - August 19th, 2007, 8:51 am
    Post #34 - August 19th, 2007, 8:51 am Post #34 - August 19th, 2007, 8:51 am
    MBK wrote:what exactly does dim sum refer to? is it a similar word like tapas???
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dim_sum :) Pretty good piece on dim sum including the name
    is making all his reservations under the name Steve Plotnicki from now on.
  • Post #35 - August 19th, 2007, 3:10 pm
    Post #35 - August 19th, 2007, 3:10 pm Post #35 - August 19th, 2007, 3:10 pm
    Dmnkly wrote:I managed to get to Din Tai Fung this afternoon and, as advertised, they have some beautiful bao. Super juicy, with just a little bit of meat and a light, delicate bun.


    Dom,

    It seems that more a few people familar with the various branches of Din Tai Fung in Asia swear up and down that the XLB there are significantly better than the one found here in L.A. Some claim that the richness from the higher quality pork used there creates a better aspic as well as filling. I wouldn't know but would sure like to find out some day.

    Your description of DTF's XLB being "delicate" is dead on. Some find this refinement to be philosophically incorrect when it comes to what constitutes a truly great bun. But for me, its beauty lies in this very fact. The subtlety of the wrapper, the glorious richness of its soup, and the perfectly fattied level of premium pork filling all work in harmony to create what I presently know of as the ideal soup dumpling.

    One other thing, have you noticed a difference in the coloration of the wrappers at the various places there? I was struck by how white they were at places like DTF and Giang Nan versus Mei Long Village, (all in the San Gabriel Valley) or even New Green Bo in NY where the wrappers take on more of a beige color. I've been curious if this difference is caused by the type of lard added (basic shortening versus pork lard) or is it because of the thickness of the skin itself? The more transparent wrappers often times seem to be slightly darker.

    If you run across somebody there who might have an answer to this, or, of course, anyone here, I'd greatly appreciate it.

    Happy eating.


    White wrapper at Din Tai Fung

    Image

    versus

    tannish wrapper at Mei Long Village

    Image
  • Post #36 - August 19th, 2007, 5:02 pm
    Post #36 - August 19th, 2007, 5:02 pm Post #36 - August 19th, 2007, 5:02 pm
    Well, that's just it... "rich" isn't at all the word I'd use to describe the XLB I had from Din Tai Fung yesterday. Delicious, delicate, technically marvelous, but exceptionally light. Though I couldn't be certain, it tasted like a much skinnier soup, which left me wanting for a little more fat. The fact that the other place's soup was a touch richer was exactly what I preferred. But to be clear, I'm making distinctions between champions, here, and we are talking about one day, one visit, five buns.

    As for the differences between the U.S. and Asia, I've not eaten at the DTF in L.A., but I'm certain your friends are absolutely correct. I feel that way about any pork dish that I eat over here. The quality of the meat is so vastly superior, I don't think it's possilbe to replicate the experience in the States. Unless maybe if they were using some exceptional heritage pork from a boutique provider, but that would shock me.

    As for the wrapper coloration, I confess I hadn't noticed. Sorry I can't add much in the way of data points there :-)

    Interestingly, and I hadn't noticed this at other places, the DTF XLB, at least the ones I had, weren't closed. Where they were bunched together at the top, a small hole was left, 3-4mm in diameter, where one could insert a bar straw into the top to extract the soup if one were so inclined (not that I recommend such technique). Though most of the folks I observed were eating them whole, there were a couple of soup sippers including a little fellow of about eight or nine who was sitting across from me. He'd drop the XLB on a spoon, mash it against his lips and suck through this hole in the top. Its intended purpose, perhaps, if in a somewhat more graceful fashion? Or simply a subpar folding? I'm not sure.
    Dominic Armato
    Dining Critic
    The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com
  • Post #37 - August 22nd, 2007, 6:04 am
    Post #37 - August 22nd, 2007, 6:04 am Post #37 - August 22nd, 2007, 6:04 am
    Dmnkly wrote:Interestingly, and I hadn't noticed this at other places, the DTF XLB, at least the ones I had, weren't closed. Where they were bunched together at the top, a small hole was left, 3-4mm in diameter, where one could insert a bar straw into the top to extract the soup if one were so inclined (not that I recommend such technique). Though most of the folks I observed were eating them whole, there were a couple of soup sippers including a little fellow of about eight or nine who was sitting across from me.


    Another phenomenon that periodically shows up in places is the mega-XLB. A straw is used for this beast as well to get at the soup.

    Much better than a 7-11 "Big Gulp", I say.

    Image
    (Image courtesy of Lesliepc 16 at Flickr.com)
  • Post #38 - August 22nd, 2007, 7:26 am
    Post #38 - August 22nd, 2007, 7:26 am Post #38 - August 22nd, 2007, 7:26 am
    PIGMON wrote:Another phenomenon that periodically shows up in places is the mega-XLB. A straw is used for this beast as well to get at the soup.


    Wow!

    Just when I thought I'd seen it all....
  • Post #39 - August 22nd, 2007, 8:26 am
    Post #39 - August 22nd, 2007, 8:26 am Post #39 - August 22nd, 2007, 8:26 am
    This is actually the method shown in the season 3 (part II) opener of Bourdain's No Reservations in Shanghai. From the Wiki description of the episode, "In Shanghai, Tony first stopped at NanXiang restaurant with his local friend, Vicky, in search of the perfect dumpling. After trying several varieties of soup-filled dumplings...". They show the normal XLB that has been discussed for the majority of this thread. After this they show the "XL" XLB. Vicky, Tony's guide for this outing, states that the straw technique is the preferable way to consume the XLB. She goes on to state that most people just drink the soup in this type of dumpling and the wrapper is then discarded. The implication is that the wrapper for the jumbo XLB is too doughy to eat like a more typical small XLB. I have yet to encounter one of these myself but I'm certainly on the look-out after seeing this.
  • Post #40 - August 23rd, 2007, 1:27 am
    Post #40 - August 23rd, 2007, 1:27 am Post #40 - August 23rd, 2007, 1:27 am
    I don't get it. If you're just going to drink the soup and discard the rest, what's the point of putting the soup in a mega-bao? Aside from the cool factor, I mean (which is significant).
    Dominic Armato
    Dining Critic
    The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com
  • Post #41 - August 23rd, 2007, 7:18 am
    Post #41 - August 23rd, 2007, 7:18 am Post #41 - August 23rd, 2007, 7:18 am
    Dmnkly wrote:I don't get it. If you're just going to drink the soup and discard the rest, what's the point of putting the soup in a mega-bao? Aside from the cool factor, I mean (which is significant).


    Not sure of the answer to this one myself... could be the 1000 year old thermos factor? :wink:
  • Post #42 - July 2nd, 2008, 9:41 pm
    Post #42 - July 2nd, 2008, 9:41 pm Post #42 - July 2nd, 2008, 9:41 pm
    Per request of Pigmon, while traveling in June I attempted to sample a wide variety of xiao long bao. My mom and I hit up Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Taipei and as we moved, the bao got better. To be fair, whilst in Shanghai we were unable to get to Nan Xiang or any of the respectable bao-establishments which is unfortunate. What was even more unfortunate were the bao we chewed on instead.
    Image
    Image
    (I apologize for the blurriness. It seems my photography skills also improved with the travel.)
    These bao had a thick, tough skin (no sag in the second picture = bad sign) and the meat was greasy. Mom, who's responsible for the Din Tai Fun pictures Pigmon posted, was unimpressed with these offerings.
    Lunch the next day was slightly better as far as the pork quality, but the bao-skin was plagued by the same thickness. If anything, these were even worse.
    Image
    Image
    See how solid they are? Like silly-putty!

    In Taipei we had a meal at an all-vegetarian buffet restaurant called "Spring." This place took deception and trickery to new levels. Their approach to vegetarian is a much more successful version of the mantra plaguing most veggie burgers, who repeatedly attempt and fail to make mushroom-bits and brown rice look and taste like burger. My veggie-hating brother went to Spring last year unawares of the theme, and when my mom asked him how he liked the vegetables, he looked at her blank-faced and said, "I didn't eat any, I only took the meat." That being said, their pork-less xiao long bao is included as a curio more than anything, and to fully catalog my bao-journey.
    Image
    Here they are, in all their moist, flaccid glory.
    Image
    These bao were the polar opposite of the Shanghai bao I had; rather than overbearing stiffness, these were too weak to contain their offerings.
    However, the thin skin was the best I had tried so far.
    Image
    Pretty nice shape, once you manage to get a hold of the slippery devils!

    A few days later, we're at Din Tai Fun's newest outpost, the 3rd in Taipei. It pains me that our mall dining peaks at Cheesecake Factory, when Taipei's denizens are treated to Din Tai Fun.
    Image
    Here they are, in their 18-fold perfection.
    Image
    Relaxed, yet perfectly taut... Joan Rivers would kill for skin like this.
    And the taste was incredible. Not a hint of grease or fat yet full of flavor, this is the pork you'd be served in heaven.
    Here are the masters at work. How many chef's does it take to create the perfect xiao long bao?
    Image
    One to cut the dough, another to smooth it into the perfect circle, another to fill with meat, the next to shape & weigh the bao (too big? too small? defective, tossed in the bin like a bad nut by one of Willy Wonka's squirrels), another to finish the 18 folds, and one to check the finished product.
    Image
    We ordered the red-bean dumplings for dessert, which would have been perfect except Mom went to the bathroom and while we waited the dumplings dried out. Ming-mei = still cruel as hell.

    Our last day in Taipei we took a little trip to Mecca; the first Din Tai Fun.
    Image
    We arrived before the crowds started (11:30 for a good table folks) and I got a little quality time in the kitchen.
    Here's the team of 6, hard at work.
    Image
    And here is the fruit of their efforts.
    Image
    Image
    They even had instructions.
    Image
    There were also very tasty shrimp-dumplings
    Image
    and green-vegetable dumpling soup
    Image

    Hungry yet? God I miss Taipei!
    "In the end, of course, there are no moral foods—unless we count soft-boiled eggs."
    - Woody Allen
  • Post #43 - July 3rd, 2008, 12:50 am
    Post #43 - July 3rd, 2008, 12:50 am Post #43 - July 3rd, 2008, 12:50 am
    Beautiful. (and the food, too)
  • Post #44 - July 3rd, 2008, 5:59 am
    Post #44 - July 3rd, 2008, 5:59 am Post #44 - July 3rd, 2008, 5:59 am
    Santander wrote:Beautiful. (and the food, too)

    Agreed........
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #45 - July 3rd, 2008, 6:06 am
    Post #45 - July 3rd, 2008, 6:06 am Post #45 - July 3rd, 2008, 6:06 am
    Wow. Excellent job! I'm stunned!
  • Post #46 - July 3rd, 2008, 6:11 am
    Post #46 - July 3rd, 2008, 6:11 am Post #46 - July 3rd, 2008, 6:11 am
    If you love XLB, I can't encourage you enough, next time you are in the Bay Area, to try out Shanghai Dumpling King. Below I paste the review of SDK from the wine blog vinography.com (dating from when the restaurant was called Shanghai Dumpling Shop. Anyway, don't miss this off-the-beaten-path treasure if you have chance. And if they happen to make a batch of what they refer to as "Chinese donuts" and come around asking if you want an order, say "yes." Ok, here is the vinography review that first introduced me to this place:

    Way out along Balboa, under the fog belt, lies San Francisco's greatest value meal. An unassuming little restaurant called the Shanghai Dumpling Shop churns out wonderful northern Chinese specialties at prices that boggle the mind.

    I hope I will not regret ever posting something about this restaurant here, but good things like this really need to be shared among folks who love to eat, whatever the risk of potential overcrowding.

    There are two important things that you need to know about Shanghai Dumpling Shop.

    1. In a word: cheap. Ruth and I frequently eat our fill here for $10

    2. Fresh. Just about everything they make is home made, from the noodles in your dish, to the skins on your dumplings.

    There's nothing to say about the decor, or the service -- they give you a clean place to sit and bring your food when it's ready -- its all about the food. I go back again and again for one dish in particular: Shanghai style boiled chive dumplings. These lovely little white pillows are lovingly fashioned by the same man who delivers them with flour covered hands to your table. Each dumpling is a rice flour skinned pouch filled with a bit of soup and fresh chives and pork, all of it bursting with flavor. The soup spoon is required to easily pick them up and keep them from sliding out from between your chopsticks. If you can manage it, they should be dipped into the small dish of soy sauce, vinegar, and shredded ginger that is the only other thing on the plate with the 10 lovely mouthfuls of goodness (about 8 of them are a full meal for me).

    Other favorite dishes there include the hot and spicy beef stew with vermicelli noodles, the stir fried rice cakes, and any of their other dumplings, but especially the Shanghai style dumplings.

    If you're there on the weekend, especially on Sunday, you can expect to wait a little while for a table of 4 or more, but the bonus of the weekends is that they make fresh homemade soy milk, which they serve hot and either salty or sweet to your taste.

    During the week though, you can get lunch which includes 1 dish, rice, and soup for $4.95. This is also a great place to come with a large group of people. They have set menus for 4, 6, and 8 people. I can't read the small handwritten sign above our table to see what they include, but Ruth tells me that for 4 people you get 7 different dishes for $38. Not $38 per person, just $38.

    I'm frequently the only Westerner in the place but no one seems to care who you are as long as you enjoy the food. And I am sure you will.

    Shangai Dumpling King
    3319 Balboa Street (bet. 34th and 35th Ave)
    San Francisco, CA 94121
    415-387-2088
  • Post #47 - July 3rd, 2008, 7:48 am
    Post #47 - July 3rd, 2008, 7:48 am Post #47 - July 3rd, 2008, 7:48 am
    lillet,

    Thanks so much for the post. It's always instructive to have an idea of the "gold standard" to which all should strive as we continue our culinary explorations.
    "The fork with two prongs is in use in northern Europe. In England, they’re armed with a steel trident, a fork with three prongs. In France we have a fork with four prongs; it’s the height of civilization." Eugene Briffault (1846)
  • Post #48 - July 11th, 2008, 1:47 pm
    Post #48 - July 11th, 2008, 1:47 pm Post #48 - July 11th, 2008, 1:47 pm
    My wife and I just spent a week in Vancouver, dining at all different kinds of spots around town. I'll be posting a more detailed account in the Vancouver thread on the Beyond Chicagoland board, but this XLB thread has always been one of my favorites on LTH and I wanted to add to the XLB knowledge base here first.

    Much like lillet's experience above, we tried three different places for XLB and luckily we saved the best for last.

    Our first stop was at Peaceful Noodle, a modest storefront shop south of downtown. They specialize in handmade noodles, but our server vouched for the XLB, so we tried them. They were OK, not great--skin too thick, good flavor.
    Image
    But make no mistake, Peaceful Noodle is a must-visit if you're in Vancouver for the noodles and the beef roll. More on these items in my Vancouver post.

    Next excursion was out to the eastern suburb of Burnaby, home of the all-Asian Crystal Mall. This might be the greatest food court in North America, a feast for the senses featuring cuisine from all over Asia:
    Image
    Image
    Image
    Image

    The XLB specialist there is Wang's Shanghai Cuisine, where the amiable dumpling assemblers work right behind the counter:
    Image
    Image

    The XLB were excellent, with a fair amount of droopiness:
    Image

    But the real XLB champion was another suburban place, Chen's Shanghai Kitchen in the south suburb of Richmond. This place is a real hike from downtown Vancouver. We found out the hard way that Chen's is closed on Wednesdays, but when we made the return trip on Sunday we were rewarded for our persistence and patience.

    I've never been to Asia, but until I get there, the XLB at Chen's are the Platonic ideal in my head. Check out these bad boys out in all their saggy, translucent glory:
    Image
    Image
    Image

    We found a lot of good food in Vancouver, but the XLB at Chen's were easily the best thing we ate there. Indeed, the best thing I've eaten anywhere this year.

    Chen's Shanghai Kitchen
    8095 Park Rd.
    Richmond, BC
    604-304-8288
    Closed Wednesdays

    Peaceful Noodle
    532 West Broadway
    Vancouver, BC
    604-879-9878

    Wang's Shanghai Cuisine
    Crystal Mall
    2819 Kingsway
    Burnaby, BC
    604-438-6263
  • Post #49 - July 29th, 2008, 10:59 am
    Post #49 - July 29th, 2008, 10:59 am Post #49 - July 29th, 2008, 10:59 am
    I was drawn back to this board and thread by Emily Szopa's article on XLB and would like to second the recommendation for the XLB at Shanghai Dumpling King in San Francisco. A close second would be Shanghai House, a couple of blocks deeper into the fog (i.e., West) on Balboa.

    In Shanghai, as far as I know, the current reigning champeen is still Jia Jia Tang Bao on Huanghe Lu (and I'll be in Shanghai in October for a xiaolong bao bed check). JJTB's XLB are the equals of those at Din Tai Fung, but at about 1/8th the price.

    Good xiaolong bao in NY? Fuhgeddaboudit.
    All Chinese food all the time at http://www.eatingchinese.org
  • Post #50 - October 30th, 2008, 5:54 pm
    Post #50 - October 30th, 2008, 5:54 pm Post #50 - October 30th, 2008, 5:54 pm
    Prior to the early-1990s, Richmond, British Columbia was essentially a small fishing village on the outskirts of Vancouver. After the transfer of Hong Kong from the British to China in 1997, several hundred thousand Hong Kong citizens as well as others from other regions of China and Taiwan emigrated to the west, many of whom ended up settling in the Richmond area. Today, Richmond has a somewhat similar feel as the San Gabriel Valley outside of L.A with its never-ending series of strip malls loaded with a wide array of Asian shops and restaurants. Only here, Asians easily outnumber anybody else by a wide margin (23% of the approximately 200,000 residents in Richmond are originally from Hong Kong while 27% come from other regions of the People’s Republic of China. 82% of the total population emigrated from China as well as from other parts of Asia).
    To visit this area without an agenda and do it proper justice would require heaps of time, to say the least. My initial interest in going to Richmond had everything to do with seeking out its large number of restaurants serving xiao long bao. We were able to hit 3 places which, going into it, I would have thought was on the light side. But realistically, with everything else that diverted our attention such things as izakaya bars, Hakka restaurants, and large shopping malls filled with nothing but Asian stores, this ended up making complete sense.

    Special thanks to Tapler for giving us a head’s up on the great XLB at Chen’s Shanghai Kitchen in Richmond. Unfortunately, we were planning on hitting it on the way out of town but ran into some snags that day. The pictures he provides of their XLB do look fantastic. I look forward to going there someday in the near future.

    Of the 3 places we tried for XLB in Richmond, Top Shanghai was the most enjoyable. This would have been amongst the best crab/pork XLB I’ve had anywhere, with its elegant and unctuous soup which lightly coats your lips (a nice sign of any well made stock), matched beautifully with its equally elegant pork/crab filling. The filling was airy and light but didn’t lack boldness of flavor or have an empty mouthfeel. Unlike so many other places that use tasteless crab or just don’t add enough of it to make its presence known, these were almost over-the-top. My main beef about these dumplings was with their wrappers and how long they steamed them. Just from their smell, you could tell that they were yeasty and slightly undercooked; mildly similar to the aroma you get from raw pizza dough. Strangely, however, the filling tasted thoroughly cooked. These were beautifully transparent wrappers which were clearly made with the utmost of care.
    Overall, these were first-rate soup dumplings and I suspect that the undercooked wrapper issue is not a regularly occurring flaw there. Everything else about them was done with too much care to believe otherwise.
    Image Image Image Image



    The 2 other places we tried, Shanghai River and Shanghai Wind, have been fairly well documented elsewhere in cyberland.

    I found the XLB at Shanghai River (we had a basket of both pork as well as pork/crab) to be in what seemed to be a culinary purgatory. Many aspects of their dumplings were stellar. The soup was ever-so-subtlely fatty and rich while the crab/pork fillings had an amazing crabmeat-to-pork ratio, unlike most other examples around.
    Image Image
    The trouble we had with these dumplings, though, came mostly from their construction. Like Top Shanghai before, the thin and translucent wrapper’s were slightly undercooked, unfortunately causing these beautifully made XLB to break open almost without exception when attempting to remove them from the basket. I think everyone at the table found this to be highly annoying. I was going to say that we should have such problems with the XLB here in Chicago, where, bar none, the wrappers are so comically thick, you practically need a jack hammer to crack them open . At the Phoenix restaurant where the skins are thinner than other Chicago makers, breakage still inevitably occurs because they have a tendency to cram their oversized dumplings into the basket. They inevitably touch each other, fuse together while enroute from the kitchen to the table and then break open while you try in vain to separate them. Talk about frustrating, especially since the XLB there have some redeeming qualities (decent soup, ok fillings) but only by Chicago standards (“tallest midget in the circus” principle is in play here.).
    Overall, I really liked these dumplings; much better, I believe, than everyone else at the table that day. I would cautiously recommend them with the hopes that the wrapper problems we experienced on this one visit would be unusual.

    The crab component of the mixture was so high that it literally had a shredded consistency to it instead of the usual firm dumpling appearance found at most other places.
    Image



    Shanghai Wind is a modest place and so are their XLB. Thin-skinned with a slightly toothsome wrapper, these small, micro-pleated XLB contained a luscious soup and fairly nondescript pork filling.
    I enjoyed these dumplings quite a bit but kept thinking that in Richmond’s vast world of xiao long bao, these must be just plain ol’ good (to v.good) examples by local standards.

    Image Image



    Top Shanghai
    120-8100 Ackroyd Road
    Richmond, B.C. V6X 3K2 Canada
    (604) 278-8798

    Shanghai River
    7831 Westminster HWY, #110
    Richmond, B.C. V6X 414 Canada
    (604) 233-8885

    Shanghai Wind
    6610 No.3 Road
    Richmond, B.C. V6Y 2C2 Canada
    (604) 276-1780
  • Post #51 - October 30th, 2008, 6:46 pm
    Post #51 - October 30th, 2008, 6:46 pm Post #51 - October 30th, 2008, 6:46 pm
    PIGMON wrote:My main beef [sic] about these dumplings was with their wrappers and how long they steamed them. Just from their smell, you could tell that they were yeasty and slightly undercooked; mildly similar to the aroma you get from raw pizza dough.


    Thanks for the report and pictures, I haven't been to Richmond BC in four years, and am sadly out of touch. (I'm fortunate to be in Shanghai for the month, though, and will soon be reporting of the state of the XLB here, after hitting 12-15 venues.)

    A minor point, but XLB wrappers are made with unleavened dough, but do use a tricky two-dough process (high-gluten flour dough and regular flour dough); I'm not sure what would account for the yeasty smell.
    All Chinese food all the time at http://www.eatingchinese.org
  • Post #52 - October 30th, 2008, 11:36 pm
    Post #52 - October 30th, 2008, 11:36 pm Post #52 - October 30th, 2008, 11:36 pm
    PIGMON - thanks so much. Now I understand why I couldn't lure you all to Spain with me. Did Top Shanghai use what looks like individual parchment paper doilies under each dumpling? I like that.

    And Gary, I do understand about the wrappers but I can totally smell what Piggy meant about that wet dough smell too.

    It's maddening times like this that I again want to somehow convince my Shanghai-born cousins who learned the art of XLB directly from the hands of the infamous Chu aunts to Chicago and just give up those soulless but lucrative IT jobs.
  • Post #53 - October 31st, 2008, 12:26 pm
    Post #53 - October 31st, 2008, 12:26 pm Post #53 - October 31st, 2008, 12:26 pm
    Any idea what kind of crab they're using? I'm wondering if they're using Dungeness cause of locale and so generous because of the relative abundance of Dungeness in the region.
  • Post #54 - October 31st, 2008, 5:58 pm
    Post #54 - October 31st, 2008, 5:58 pm Post #54 - October 31st, 2008, 5:58 pm
    Jay K wrote:Any idea what kind of crab they're using? I'm wondering if they're using Dungeness cause of locale and so generous because of the relative abundance of Dungeness in the region.


    One problem with Dungeness (unless they have looser conservation laws than the US) is that you cannot fish for the female crabs, and therefore don't have access to crab roe, which is necessary for the tastiest crab XLB.
    All Chinese food all the time at http://www.eatingchinese.org
  • Post #55 - November 1st, 2008, 5:30 pm
    Post #55 - November 1st, 2008, 5:30 pm Post #55 - November 1st, 2008, 5:30 pm
    Louisa Chu wrote:Did Top Shanghai use what looks like individual parchment paper doilies under each dumpling? I like that.

    Not under every dumpling but single parchment paper doilies were used, yes.
    Gary Soup wrote:A minor point, but XLB wrappers are made with unleavened dough, but do use a tricky two-dough process (high-gluten flour dough and regular flour dough); I'm not sure what would account for the yeasty smell.

    Thanks so much for chiming in, Gary. Your knowledge of all things XLB far exceeds my own limited and casual study of this culinary delight. I've enjoyed learning a tremendous amount XLB from your wonderful posts elsewhere as well as your blog eatingchinese throughout the years.

    As far as the "yeasty" smell, I'm not sure if what I was picking up was nothing more than what Louisa describes as "wet dough". However, more than a few recipes I've run across, (possibly inferior examples of XLB or recipes that are really for making something closer to, say, sheng jian bao (or some other type of bao) will use yeast. A number of people who appear to be the most knowledgeable sources about XLB often times don't appear to have a mastery of the English language (not that I do either) and misunderstandings and misinterpretations are rampant on most cyber-food threads. Even getting a consensus understanding of the differences between a true dumpling, a bao, or xiao long bao often times seems to be a major problem when accurately defining each of them.
  • Post #56 - November 1st, 2008, 6:35 pm
    Post #56 - November 1st, 2008, 6:35 pm Post #56 - November 1st, 2008, 6:35 pm
    PIGMON wrote:As far as the "yeasty" smell, I'm not sure if what I was picking up was nothing more than what Louisa describes as "wet dough". However, more than a few recipes I've run across, (possibly inferior examples of XLB or recipes that are really for making something closer to, say, sheng jian bao (or some other type of bao) will use yeast.


    FWIW, the recipe published by John Tsui in Hong Kong for making XLB is as close to the traditional approach as it gets, I've been told. As you can see, there are plenty of temptations for shortcuts in such a tedious process. I'm not a baker, but it may be that a single leavened dough can substitute for the two-dough method described. I too have seen recipes that call for yeast and have been puzzled how there can be a yeast and a non-yeast path to the same end.
    All Chinese food all the time at http://www.eatingchinese.org
  • Post #57 - November 1st, 2008, 7:46 pm
    Post #57 - November 1st, 2008, 7:46 pm Post #57 - November 1st, 2008, 7:46 pm
    I will be up in Toronto in a couple of weeks and wanted to see if anybody had recommendations for a place for xiao long bao.
  • Post #58 - November 1st, 2008, 9:34 pm
    Post #58 - November 1st, 2008, 9:34 pm Post #58 - November 1st, 2008, 9:34 pm
    PIGMON wrote:
    Louisa Chu wrote:Did Top Shanghai use what looks like individual parchment paper doilies under each dumpling? I like that.

    Not under every dumpling but single parchment paper doilies were used, yes.

    I think those are paper-thin slices of daikon, not parchment (look again at the photo). At least I hope that's the case. I ate one that stuck to my dumpling.

    PIGMON wrote:
    Gary Soup wrote:A minor point, but XLB wrappers are made with unleavened dough, but do use a tricky two-dough process (high-gluten flour dough and regular flour dough); I'm not sure what would account for the yeasty smell.

    As far as the "yeasty" smell, I'm not sure if what I was picking up was nothing more than what Louisa describes as "wet dough". However, more than a few recipes I've run across, (possibly inferior examples of XLB or recipes that are really for making something closer to, say, sheng jian bao (or some other type of bao) will use yeast.

    I'd be very surprised if Top Shanghai's dough did not contain yeast. I found the slight yeasty smell and taste to be quite pleasant, whether or not it's authentic. One other note about these dumplings is they were stickier than any others I've encountered. When nipping off the top, I noticed the dough sticking to my lips. Maybe that's why they don't use the usual single sheet of parchment to line the steamer. In any case I found Top Shanghai's xiao long bao to be very enjoyable.
  • Post #59 - November 1st, 2008, 10:09 pm
    Post #59 - November 1st, 2008, 10:09 pm Post #59 - November 1st, 2008, 10:09 pm
    Louisa Chu wrote:PIGMON - thanks so much. Now I understand why I couldn't lure you all to Spain with me. Did Top Shanghai use what looks like individual parchment paper doilies under each dumpling? I like that.


    The trend in Shanghai is to use no lining at all, which seems to be possible using steamers with a radial needle-like base like the one shown in tapler's photo of Wang's in Burnaby. Every venue I've hit (11 so far) on my current Shanghai visit has used unlined steamers with nary a sticking problem.
    All Chinese food all the time at http://www.eatingchinese.org
  • Post #60 - November 3rd, 2008, 1:43 pm
    Post #60 - November 3rd, 2008, 1:43 pm Post #60 - November 3rd, 2008, 1:43 pm
    As this is in the Chicagoland thread, where am I getting this goodness in the area?

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