Article by David Parker.
February 14, 2018 Photography by David Parker.
Journalist and former chef Jean François Mallet visited China Towns the world over while researching this book. Instead of focusing on American–Chinese cuisine or what the greater Western world thinks of as 'Chinese Food' the book tends to lean toward the traditional, but the recipes are simplified and often slightly Westernised. A symptom of these dishes being made in China Towns in a country that might not have all the ingredients required means they’re not always completely authentic. Surprisingly, there are also a couple of Vietnamese, Thai and Korean dishes in the book as China Towns have attracted different cultures too.
I've been wanting to try my hand at Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings) for some time. I've made many a dumpling but when I was introduced to Xiao Long Bao they intrigued me. How did they get the soup inside? Well you turn a broth into a jelly which will then melt when the dumplings get cooked. Amazing. There’s something magic about it; it’s such a simple concept with an amazing effect when the soup bursts out of the dumpling into your mouth. Of course, the first thing I looked for in China Towns was Xiao Long Bao and I was so disappointed to not find them, but then I remembered the book was Westernised, so I looked for their other common name: Juicy Pork Dumplings. Success!
Traditionally you'd make a simple chicken or pork broth and then boil it with pork skin to extract the gelatin from it, but this recipe just called for pre–made beef stock and leaves of gelatin. I soaked the gelatin in cold water to soften it, added it to the beef stock and ginger and brought to the boil.
Once the gelatin had dissolved fully I took the beef stock off the heat and left to cool in the fridge overnight.
The next day I dealt with mincing the pork. The recipe calls for pork loin but I couldn't be sure of the provenance of any of the ground pork available and I still don't own a meat mincer. I figured I could just use the food processor trick again. First, I cut the skin off the pork loin and discarded it (sigh, it would've been perfect to boil up with the broth to extract the gelatin from it! What a waste!) then I cut the pork loin into cubes and after they'd been in the freezer for about 20 minutes I could blend them in small batches. Finely ground pork loin! Great!
Then I added chopped spring onions, ginger, salt, sugar, rice wine, soy sauce, sesame oil and a bit of water and mixed them together. I set aside the filling to get to work on the dumpling skins.
The dumpling skins are just made from flour and water – nothing else. I poured the water into a well in the flour and mixed it in with my hands before kneading for a few minutes. I finished off the kneading by working the dough on a bench with a rolling pin for about 5 minutes.
Subscribe to Dish to save recipes
Get all you can eat recipes and more. Starting at just $34.90 for 12 months access.
As we rapidly approach the shortest day of
the year, the latest issue of dish is set to inspire
and delight with a fabulous round-up of mid-
winter dishes. We start with the humble-yet
delicious sausage, which we celebrate it in all its
forms. From there it’s all about extreme comfort
food with soothing pasta bakes and irresistible
puddings. Love a good pie? We share five of our
all-time favourites, with luscious fillings encased
in crisp, flaky pastry. The cooler weather invites
us to slow down, and we do just that with a
selection of tender braises which contrast
perfectly with our epic, time-saving Food Fast