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FINALLY!!!! The Long Awaited XLB Experiment...

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We finally tried our hand at making XLBs (aka soup dumplings). After years of being some of the toughest XLB cirtics around and having eaten our way around XLBs in New York, LA, SF, Taipei, and Shanghai, we put ourselves to the test. Well, as they say... walking the walk is WAY harder than talking the talking.

We knew the qualities we wanted in soup dumplings... flavourful, full of juice, and thin skin. We started off by using the XLB Tutorial provided by Gary Soup on his website http://eatingchinese.org/xlbtutor/xlb.... Then we went with a divide and conquer approach. I was to handle the aspic and the filling and W was to tackle the dough.
I started the aspic by purchasing a whole pigs feet and had the butcher cut up in 1 inch slices. I boiled some water and threw in the pieces of pigs feet and chicken wings. I drained the water after about 5 minutes to get rid of the blood stink. I then filled the pot back up with water and add 2 tablesppoons of sliced ginger, 1 tablespoon of light soy, 1/2 cup of shaoxing wine, 2 whole star anise, 1 teaspoon of five spice powder, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 medium piece of rock sugar. I let this concoction cook on low heat for about 8 hrs. Adding more water whenever the liquid got too low and skimming off the fat every couple of hours or so. When it was done, it was a rather viscous liquid. I strained out the liquid and let it set in the fridge. When the aspic was fully formed, I scrapped off any remaining fat from the top. Right before use, I cubed up the aspic.

W made the dough according to the instructions and I made up the filling also exactly according to recipe. We had a whole bunch of people awaiting for this event so they all helped us with rolling out the dough and folding which was the most challenging part. As you can see, we were able to meet the challenge to varying results. Sometimes, we gave up and made gyoza shapes too.

Each of the batches were steamed for about 10 minutes. They were quite delicious... And could rival some of the places around town for sure. But we need to work on getting the dough thinner. That was the universal comment. Also, people liked the more complex and less porky singe-note of the broth I made. This is only the first step, we will come back for another round. Until then....

See http://noodledoor.blogspot.com/2007/1... for pictures.

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  1. Wow! Impressive. They look great. Now I'm hungry.

    1. Wow! They look really pro.

      I recently also worked with pigs' feet to make a jelly/aspic. It was for a very complicated beef terrine. My trotters (purchased in a Pan-Asian market in Oakland) didn't have much blood and made very good aspic. My dish had French flavoring and was poured over sliced cooked beef to make the terrine.

      I was worried I'd be squeamish, but wasn't at all.

      I'm now tempted to try making XLB, enlisting my son and daughter in law. Thanks for a great report (and blog).

      2 Replies
      1. re: oakjoan

        If you don't want the pork trotters flavor seeping into your dish, you can also use Knox unflavored gelatin in the borth instead. Just be sure you get the total amount of liquid properly adjusted.

        1. re: Caroline1

          One thing I wondered about in the past was whether the front trotters of a pig had more blood in them than the rear as the animal is hung as it is ... er ... vampirated.

      2. I tried to get to Gary Soup's website linked in your OP, but got 404'ed. So I keyed in the domain... TA DAHH! A few mouseclicks, and here we have a lovely crispy stir-fried URL, surrounded by brilliant green baby bok choy and bright red pepper strips:

        http://eatingchinese.net/forums/index...

        This is the Gary Soup chat forum link to both a Chinese-language pictorial XLB tutorial and to a shorter one in English.