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How to eat Xiao Long Bao (XLB)?

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Okay... so I was at Din Tai Fung up in Arcadia this past weekend, putting together a video on "how to eat Xiao Long Bao." I followed the instructions on Din Tai Fung's chopstick wrapper.... but nibbled a bit too eagerly on the Xiao Long Bao and experienced a bit of dumpling soup explosion. You can see what I mean in the video here (near the end) : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbMwT3...

The directions on the chopstick wrapper are:

1. Pour vinegar in to the small dish with ginger
2. Gently lift a dumpling and dip it in to the ginger vinegar
3. Place it on your spoon
4. Take a nibble on the dumpling skin and sip the juice (this is where disaster struck for me!
)5. Drizzle some vinegar and ginger on the dumpling
6. Enjoy

When I went looking around youtube, I saw some people say that after they put the dumpling on the spoon, they use their chopstick to poke a hole in the skin, and let the soup empty in to the spoon.

So I would ask, how do all of you Xiao Long Bao aficionados eat them?

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  1. Oooh, wasting all that juice!!!

    At step 4, you gotta nibble at the soft UNDERBELLY of that XLB to ever-so-gently break the skin so that the soup can leak out gracefully into the spoon (which is held by your NON-dominant hand).

    This is where I deviate from DTF's XLB protocol. My step 5 is to put the drained XLB temporarily on my plate using chopsticks (held in my dominant hand).

    My Step 6: Enjoy the soup... slurp it off that spoon, and QUICKLY proceed to put the drained XLB into mouth following it. It helps to have a big mouth.

    To terribly misquote Robert Downey, Jr. in 'Iron Man': "It's how I do it, it's how my grandpappy did it (in Taipei), and dammit, it worked out pretty well so far....".

    1 Reply
    1. re: J.L.

      Oooohh... Nibbling on the bottom! That makes sense... I was nibbling on the top, where it seems to be a bit tougher (and it squirted out near the bottom).

    2. Eat it however you want.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ipsedixit

        ditto...for me, it depends on my mood.

      2. Never mind all that baloney on the chop stick wrapper, just pop that whole little puppy in your mouth, bite down and enjoy the flavor burst:

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/50446

        4 Replies
        1. re: ChinoWayne

          every time I do it that way, I scorch my palate, and the skin flakes off the next day.

          1. re: ChinoWayne

            Yup. That's how I do it. DH says I have an iron mouth because of my capability to eat really hot things. I love that squirt of flavor.

            1. re: ChinoWayne

              I do that, too. But I just wait a few minutes and eat some other dim sum items so I don't get too scorched, but not long enought that the wrapper absorbs the juice, or that it gets cool.

              1. re: ChinoWayne

                Third on the all-at-once method, though I usually hold the dumpling on my tongue and let the soup drain before I start chewing.

                My pet peeve is when they place the XLB too close together on the steamer, so they pull apart and lose their juice onto the bamboo! Infuriates me. We lost practically an entire tray that way last week.

              2. IMHO, I
                1. bite a bit off the corner to
                2. drain the soup into my soup spoon
                3. put ginger on top of the drained dumpling
                4. dip dumpling in vineger
                5. eat the dumpling
                6. quickly drink the liquid

                Might be odd, but it works for me :)

                1. sit dumpling on spoon.
                  bite a hole in the top and slurp out a bit of the soup.
                  pour in some of the sauce.
                  eat whole dumpling.

                  1. Here in San Francisco I was taught by Melanie,...that one places the XLB on a large spoon, (with some black vinegar, or red) bite the little top knot off to let the dumpling cool to non-scorching temperature. (I learned the hard way..ouch!) ..and eat, ..any flavorful juices that escape, are captured by the spoon and savored!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: ChowFun_derek

                      an old thread about this: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/18762

                      1. re: ChowFun_derek

                        Yup. If you bite a small hole at the top, the steam will escape and you can pop the whole thing in your mouth without scalding yourself. Also, while you're waiting for it to cool, you can poke a couple of vinegary slivers of ginger in the hole.

                        The most important thing, though, is to get it into the spoon at just the right time: when the wrappers have cooled enough to not burst when you pick them up, but before they spring a leak or cool enough to absorb the soup.

                      2. "How to eat Xiao Long Bao (XLB)?"

                        ........frequently

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Bossa_Nova

                          Hah... as often as possible! I'll agree to that!

                        2. I knew you were supposed to drink the soup and eat the meat separately!!! And my family thought I was crazy for doing that (even though I did that because the soup keep burning me XD).

                          I just place it on my spoon, rip a small hole on the side and try to drain all the soup onto the spoon and drink the soup. Then I rip open the top to eat the soft meat and then FINALLY eat the skin (my favorite part of the dumpling...)

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: AngelSanctuary

                            You aren't "supposed to", it's just one way. If you were supposed to do that, why wouldn't they just serve the soup separately?