Soup Dumplings (Xiao Long Tang Bao) in Wuhan, China
Chinese dumplings are always a fun dish, with the variety of cooking methods and fillings limited only by imagination. In Wuhan, Hubei Province, we encountered Xiao Long Tang Bao, also known as soup dumplings because the filling inside is actually liquid soup!
The secret to these dumplings is adding a cube of gelatinous broth (broth that has cooled into a solid jello) along with the meat or vegetable filling. When steamed, the gelled broth melts inside the dumpling to become liquid soup. Soup buns in Wuhan are made with leavened dough, making them thicker and stronger than traditional Shanghai soup dumplings. This means they can be picked up with chopsticks and eaten whole. The unleavened dough of the Shanghai version is weak and the contents must be slurped out with a straw before eating the dumpling. In Wuhan, you get the full flavor of the dumpling, the soup, and the filling all at once. In Wuhan's famous food street, Hubu Alley, the tang bao shop sells at least 20 different varieties of soup dumplings with various meat or vegetable fillings. The dough is hand-rolled and the dumplings are made to order. Delicious!