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Sep 5, 2013 02:17 PM

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.

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  1. 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.

    11 Replies
    1. re: chefj

      Cool--so you chop the gelled stock into the meat? That makes perfect sense, so long as one is ready to do it quickly before the stock melts.

      edit p.s.: my beef stock was only flavored with peppercorns and bay leaf and an onion, halved. I like to keep stocks pretty primal.

      1. re: Bada Bing

        The Forcemeat should be completely done and then you fold the stock in. Then back to the fridge before trying to work with it

        1. re: chefj

          When I made them and other dumplings, the filling isn't precooked and I didn't refrigerate before assembling. Wouldn't the meat be overdone if it's cooked twice. I have a feeling I'm not understanding something :)

          1. re: c oliver

            I do not know where you got that the Farce/Force Meat/Filling/Stuffing was cooked, it is not.

          2. re: chefj

            Responding to you and in line with c oliver: I'd never heard the phrase "force meat" before. Apparently it means the same thing as any ground seasoned but RAW meat in American terms, as what one uses to make sausage.

            1. re: Bada Bing

              Ah, that explains it. When chefj wrote it should be "completely done," I thought it meant cooked.

        2. re: chefj

          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.

            1. re: paulj

              I get crazy amounts of gelatin from chicken feet when making chicken stock. And agar is a natural product so no worry there.

          1. 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.

            1. 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.

              1. 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:


                1. This doesn't answer your question directly, but I followed this F&W recipe for pork crab soup dumplings and it worked well (for next time when you want a variation!).