How wretched is my life in London without decent xiao long baos?
I was craving these soupy, meaty babies a while back, sooooo incredibly badly that one Saturday, I rummaged my pantry for flour, minced pork, Chinese lettuce yada yada and decided to make xiao long baos. Pronto. Without a trusty recipe, and with a hell lot of guts.
There are currently two food items that I consider treacherous in my culinary experiments – macaron, that goes without saying, and xiao long bao.
These dumplings are expected to pack lots of flavour in that one little dome of meat, ooze a dam of sweet-savoury liquid velvety goodness, and mind you, they have to be contained in the thinnest of pouches to be even considered decent. An impossible feat, if you ask me. I must have been crazy when I decided to make them, but that’s what living in a foreign land does to a foodie, it drives you to desperation and forces you to create miracles in your kitchen.
I spent, I don’t know, two hours, trying to make 40 of these bloody baos. Making the dough wasn’t difficult. Making a good dough that rolled out thinly (think less than a millimetre…) was extremely tough. Getting the meats to fit inside the wrappers wasn’t rocket science. Trying to pleat the wrapper into nice folds was ARGH. The F word wasn’t far from my lips (and I don’t like to spew vulgarities), until I went on Youtube to look for a ‘How to pleat xiao long bao’ video, which saved my husband from my wrath.
Or so M thought. When the baos came out of the steamer and I took the first bite, I wanted to kill, seriously. I had already pummelled and pulled the dough so thinly, and you, damn skin, are still playing coy, thick and rubbery?! At least the meat was good, that was a saving grace.
Until I find the inner xiao long bao peace, I’ll leave it at Strike One, get my fill in Singapore when I return (which is really really soon!), and then come back with a vengeance for Strike Two.
Sorry there isn’t a recipe here. The skin was inedible and I don’t think anyone should try what I did at home.
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