By Jenni Sheppard
With the biggest Chinatown in Canada – and a Chinese restaurant scene to match – Metro Vancouver is a great place to start tasting some traditional Chinese cuisine.
From dim sum, chow mein, and kung pao chicken, to wontons, spring rolls and Peking duck, there’s a myriad of delicious options available around town. But can we tempt you with some soup dumplings? Or perhaps you know them as xiaolongbao?
These little savoury delicacies are pretty irresistible – and hide a hot, tasty surprise inside. To learn more about how to make and eat soup dumplings, we spoke to Garry Guan, owner of Legend House in Coquitlam, which specializes in Shanghai and Sichuan cuisine.
What are soup dumplings?
Garry Guan: Soup dumplings are steamed buns filled with minced pork, ginger and hot, savoury soup. They originated in Shanghai and are a must-eat food when visiting the city, but they are also becoming well known around Vancouver.
Although they are traditionally filled only with pork, another popular version contains pork with minced crab meat and roe. More modern innovations feature other meats, seafood, and vegetarian fillings.
How do you make soup dumplings?
Garry: To begin making soup dumplings, we first make the dough, and divide this into small, tablespoon-sized balls. We flatten these out into nice round wrappers.
Then, to make the filling, we mix minced pork and jellied broth (either from well-cooked pork skin soup, or gelatin), together with seasoning such as salt, minced ginger, cooking wine, sugar, and white peppercorn powder.
To form the dumplings, we place some of the filling in the centre of each wrapper and pleat the edges of the wrapper repeatedly, pinching the edge closed after each pleat until the entire dumpling is sealed.
Finally, we place the soup dumplings in bamboo baskets and steam them for about five minutes. We serve them in their baskets, with a side dish of vinegar and sliced ginger.
When can you eat soup dumplings?
Garry: Anytime is good for soup dumplings at Legend House! We prepare all our soup dumplings fresh in house, for lunch and dinner.
How should you eat soup dumplings?
Garry: The soup in the dumplings is very hot, so you’ve got to be careful! The best way is to use chopsticks to dip the dumpling in some vinegar, soy sauce, and ginger, then place the dumpling on a spoon. To release the soup, either poke a hole in the dumpling with your chopstick or take a small bite out of the dumpling skin. This allows you to sip the soup from the spoon. Then simply keep biting and sipping until you’re done.
What soup dumplings do you serve at Legend House?
Garry: We specialize in pork soup dumplings – and they’re the most popular item on our menu!
Legend House is located at 140-1169 Pacific Street in Coquitlam, BC. They are open 11 am to 9:30 pm daily.