Love authentic Chinese cuisine? If you do, then you’ve doubtless heard of Xiao long bao, or soup dumplings. These steamed delicacies are delicious, and they’re incredibly unique – filled with both pork and broth. When eaten correctly, they’re a culinary delight.
However, when eaten incorrectly, they can spill scalding broth over your lips and chin. It’s both painful and messy. Or, as Thrillist points out, “you’ve got a scalded mouth and wet chin at best (a ruined dumpling and guffawing friends at worst). The good news is that eating Xiao long bao the right way isn’t all that hard. You just need to know a few things.
The Wrong Way
We’ll start with a look at the wrong way to eat these delicious dumplings. As Good Food points out, the wrong way is to pop the dumpling like a pimple. Not only is that messy and crude, it’s gross, too. Not to mention the fact that it’s completely insensitive to Chinese culinary tradition. Imagine being told that the right way to eat a burger was off the floor, or the right way to eat pizza was by liquifying it in a blender first.
You also should not put the entire dumpling in your mouth and eat it in one swallow. They are meant to be savored, not consumed immediately. This isn’t sushi, and it’s not Japan. Chinese culinary traditions are different.
The Right Way
So, how do you eat Xiao long bao the right way? Is there a correct way? You bet there is, and it makes a lot of sense if you just take the time to think about it. Xiao long bao combine the deliciousness of soup with the beauty of a dumpling, and the savory taste of meat. The right way to eat them allows you to experience all these things with every single dumpling.
First, understand that, as Business Insider points out, the beauty of these dumplings is really the soup inside. It’s essentially soup that has been turned into gelatin, and then added to the dumpling. The cooking process liquifies the soup, filling the interior of the dumpling with delightful liquid. However, eat it too soon and you’re going to burn your mouth. Eat it too late and the liquid will have gelatinized once more, and the dumpling skin will have hardened. So, what’s a diner to do?
For that, we turn to Chili House SF. First, you need to wait just a little while for the dumplings to cool slightly. Then, you need to take stock of what you’ve been given in the way of utensils. You should have both chopsticks and a soup spoon. There’s a reason for that – you’re supposed to use both. Gently pick up your dumpling with your chopsticks and place it in the soup spoon. Then, use the spoon to bring the dumpling to your mouth.
Take a small bite from the front of the dumpling, and let the soup fill the spoon. Then, sip the soup while eating the dumpling. It’s that simple.