In order to save money, I aspire to be a bit of a household MacGyver at times, repurposing everyday household items to create budget versions of fancy kitchen implements, and turning the odd condiment/leftover/impulse buy into a magnificent feast.
The other day, I spent several hours making a tonkotsu broth for ramen soup, a broth so rich, porky and filled with collagen that it started solidifying into gel after just an hour in the fridge. This got me thinking about soup dumplings, or xiao long bao, a magical dish that involves combining flavored meat gel with filling inside a dough wrapper, then steaming to allow the gel to dissolve into soup. Since I had so much extra tonkotsu broth left over, I decided to sub it in for the soup gel from this amazing recipe from Steamy Kitchen.
- 400 grams (just a little over 3 cups) of all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup boiling water
- ¼ cup cold water
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
First, I put about 2 ¾ cups of the flour into a large bowl. I started the water boiling, then added it a little bit at a time to the flour, using a pair of chopsticks to stir vigorously. By the way, pouring boiling water into a bowl while “stirring vigorously” with chopsticks is more difficult than you would imagine, so be careful! I kept gradually pouring in the hot water and stirring until it was all added and a dough had begun to form. Then I added the cold water and oil, stirred a little more, then dumped the whole mixture on the kitchen counter with the remainder of the flour and kneaded for about 10 minutes. Once I had a generally smooth and pliant dough, I covered it and let it sit about 30 minutes.
- 1 ¼ lb ground pork (or 1 lb of ground pork and ¼ lb shrimp, but Mark doesn’t like shrimp, so I made the change)
- 3 stalks green onion, finely minced
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp ground white pepper
- ½ tsp fresh grated ginger
- 1 tsp dry sherry
- ½ tsp sesame oil
- 1 ½ cups gellified tonkotsu broth (recipe here)
In a large bowl, I mixed together all the ingredients except for the tonkotsu broth, which I cut into 1/2” cubes. I took the dough and divided it into fourths, then made little golf ball sized dough balls. I rolled each piece out flat and topped it with about a tbsp of meat filling and a cube of tonkotsu gel. Then I gathered the dough around the filling and pleated it closed.
Once I had used up all the dough, I oiled up the bottom of my steamer and placed the dumplings in, making sure to give each dumpling some room to stretch out a little (otherwise, they will stick together and tear when you try to remove them). I steamed the dumplings for about 12 minutes and carefully removed them to a plate.
These are nowhere near authentic, but damn, if they weren’t great. Although to be fair, that broth is so good, it's bound to be the highlight of any dish that utilizes it. And the dough wrappers I can work on - they were fine, but maybe a little too thick, a mistake I tend to make more often than not for fear that they will tear. In any event, we were thrilled to be able to be able to get soup dumplings without having to drive to SGV, and to use up the tonkotsu broth in new way. Now if you'll excuse me, I've gotta go figure out how to turn my crockpot into a pressure cooker using a wire hanger and a hockey ticket...