Xiao long bao broth
I first had these broth-filled dumplings at a recent visit to New York City and loved them (Joe's Shanghai!). For those who don't know, and for those who do know and might find cause to correct me, these are Chinese dumplings filled in a special way, so as to end up with, after cooking, a rich broth making up half or more of the interior.
I gather from googling that the assembly is roughly this: grind up a seasoned meat or other protein-oriented filler, place that onto a flattened round of dumpling dough, then place onto that some cubes of gelatinized broth, then wrap the dumpling up around all that, so that (forgive the R-rating) the dumpling comes together at the top pinched into a nipple-like shape, so all the broth stays inside when the dumpling is steamed and the broth melts. You eat them by spooning the dumplings up and nibbling off the nipple top to suck up the broth first.
I've noticed that most online recipes call for using a pork broth with gelatin powder or agar agar (why isn't one "agar" enough?). Now, it so happens that I saw some beef bones and scraps on sale recently, so I have in my fridge a seriously high quality beef stock, almost to demi-glace level. At fridge temp, it's more solid than most Jellos. It might even be too intense for this application.
So, any ideas about whether I might use this beef base for xiao long bao effectively, or might it be too much? Do i really need gelatin or agar agar?
Not sure I'd want to mix pork or shrimp or other fillings with beef broth, so should I look to a beef or soy protein filling?
Any tips appreciated.
You do not need to add Gelatin to your Stock if it jells with out it.
I would not use a reduced Beef Stock for just the reasons you mentioned wrong/overwhelming Flavor.
If you did make a Beef filled one you would still not want to add a western style Beef Stock(Onions/Carrot/Celery) if It is a Chinese style Stock (Ginger/Scallion/Garlic) I imagine it would work(flavor wise) Though i have never seen a Beef Xiaolongbao.
When I make Xiaolongbao I chop up the gelled stock and fold it into my force meat with very good result.
That Steamykitchen recipe does not call for a high-gelatin parts (especially if using a fatty cut of pork instead of skin). So the use of gelatin or agar agar might be a safety meansure, to ensure that the stock is stiff enough to dice and handle cold.
Stock made with feet (pig, cow), ears and other high-skin parts is stiff enough, that made with mostly chicken is borderline stiff.
In my opinion, I think it is fine to use the beef broth. I think it will taste differently, but I don't think it will taste bad. It will just be different, but good. Thank about making a pork based hamburger. It will be different, but it will be good too.
Okay- I have a crazy idea, but I can't take credit for it.
If you want to experiment, you could make a variation of French onion soup dumplings...... caramelize some onions, and inside the dumpling put some onions, beef broth, a little gruyere, and seal it up.
But, for real xiao long bao, I'd use a pork or chicken or pork/chicken broth. And mine always jell when chilled, never added gelatin or agar. As long as you can handle the cube well enough to seal it up into the dumpling, then it's jelled enough.
Here's the recipe I used:
It worked great but it was really a lot of work (I broke it into two days) and I haven't made them again. But pleating the dough was easier than I could have imagined. Here's the post I had about it that may give you some more ideas: