I’ll be up front here. I don’t believe that anyone really needs to make a case for soup dumplings. I covered it back in the post I wrote about “my favorite things” a while ago: they’re the perfect little bite.
Soup dumplings, or xiao long bao, have become a bit of a cultural phenomenon. Restaurants specializing in steamed buns have popped up all over the place, and there’s even a Pixar short called Bao , which will make you feel all the feels. You can find it on Disney+, or on youtube.
Anyway, having all but moved on from frozen pizza and chicken fingers, my wife and I have recently relied on our steamer basket and frozen soup dumplings on those special evenings when we REALLY don’t feel like taking the time to make something. For a while, especially in the pre-pandemic time, we had been sampling various frozen and prepared buns from the likes of our local Asian groceries. We found a few favorites, and we’re particularly partial to the Wei-Chuan Pork Mini Buns. Given that the Asian Family Market isn’t near work – strangely, it’s not on the route from the bedroom to the office – we had to make a special trip out for buns, which we didn’t always get around to.
Thankfully Trader Joe’s hopped on the Xiao Long Bao bandwagon. I don’t know, maybe Joe saw the Pixar short. Whatever the cause, the local TJ’s has premade frozen soup dumplings, which have found their way onto our shopping list for the past few weeks. Their pork variety, which we both prefer, are relatively inexpensive ($3 for 6 dumplings) and super tasty, and paired with their potstickers or chicken egg rolls, make for an easy weeknight meal.
The buns themselves, which are listed as “Steamed Pork & Ginger Soup Dumplings” are filling, and deeply flavorful. A single pack (six buns) is probably enough for a single person, but – I’ll be honest – I always want more than that. It’s not the best dumpling I’ve ever had (I mean it’s a frozen version from an American grocery chain) but the flavor is good, and the ginger is an especially welcome touch.
What you would need:
- Steamer basket – Here’s the one I use
- Soup Dumplings
Optional stuff to level it up:
- Soup spoons (these are pretty good)
- Soy sauce or other dumpling sauces
It’s So Easy:
- Put an inch of water in a shallow frying pan, wok or skillet, and place it on the stove over high heat
- As you wait for the water to boil, place a liner in the steamer baskets that you’ll be using, and arrange the soup dumplings in the baskets
- Once the water is boiling place the loaded steamer baskets in the pan
- Steam the dumplings for 8 minutes
- Remove the basket from the pan
- Pop it open, and enjoy steamed soup dumplings!
- Clarification: To eat a soup dumpling, pluck a single piece out by the top, place it in a spoon, and bite the pinched part off the top. Slurp out some of the soup (give it a dash of sauce if you want) and then enjoy it in a single savory bite (or two).