Taste: Soup Dumplings

images/soupdumplings

Soup dumplings, those tender pouches of ground pork and broth from Shanghai, seemed to explode across New York City in the mid- to late 1990s, perhaps reaching a peak circa 1998, when Joe's Shanghai, one of the original dumpling purveyors, opened an upscale branch in the heart of midtown Manhattan.

While the fervor for soup dumplings may have settled down and the long lines have abated, a return trip to the Joe's Shanghai restaurant in Elmhurst, Queens, confirmed that they are still as tasty as they ever were.

Tucked away in a small shopping plaza off of Broadway, Joe's Shanghai serves two variations on the soup dumpling theme, pork or a combination of pork and crab. The dumplings arrive to the table in piping hot bamboo steamers. Like a beggar's purse, each plump dumpling contains a little pork meatball surrounded by a meaty broth. Tongs are provided to lift the dumplings off the steamer and onto a soup spoon. To prevent burning one's mouth and to savor the dumpling, the preferred method of consumption is to bite off a little piece of the doughy wrapper, suck out the broth with a slurp, and then polish off the rest.

The visit was inspired by an article by Margo True in the April 2004 issue of Saveur detailing the art and history of the soup dumpling (the article is not online). Ms. True writes that the exact origins of soup dumplings, or xiao long bao ("little dumplings from basket"), are unknown, but they first appeared in Nanxiang, northwest of Shanghai, at least 100 years ago.

The article includes a recipe to make the dumplings at home, and Ms. True reveals the secret behind the soup. The rich liquid comes from small cubes of aspic made from pork skin that is mixed into the filling. As the filling steams, the aspic melts--turning from solid into liquid--and soup dumplings are born.

Joe's Shanghai, 82-74 Broadway, Elmhurst, Queens (718.639.6888). Multiple locations in Flushing, Queens, and Manhattan.


 





Comments

You can truly experience the full flavor of soup dumplings when you eat at one of the downscale Joe's. Where else can you hear a Mandarin version of "Play That Funky Music White Boy?"

 

You're right. Just another element of the soup dumpling dining experience that may be difficult to replicate in one's own home.

 

darn it. u've now made me hungry. now must plan an outing on saturday to eat this stuff. :p

 

Wena,
Are they popular in Malaysia? Are there other variations there besides pork and pork/crab?

 

How about this: for about $4, you can get six of the very best soup dumplings in Manhattan at Moon House in Chinatown --- 67 Bayard Street (between Mott and Elizabeth). Have yummy cheap fun, y'all! GABUGABU

 

Those who are visiting Tokyo should try the soup dumplings at Nanxiang Steamed Buns Restaurant, which is in the new Roppongi Hills Complex. They are as good as Joe's Shanghai.

http://www.soho-s.co.jp/nansyou/index_fs.html

 

GabuGabu, thanks for the tip.

Gen Kanai, if I ever make it to Japan, I will be sure to head there.

There really needs to be an international database of soup dumplings!

 

Josh, dumplings are loved in Malaysia by all races. Alternative fillings are made from fish, chicken and prawns. Delicious!!

 

They don't look so tasteful, but I'm sure they are! Any veggie suggestions?

 

Jessi, I assure you they are very tasty, though if you are a vegetarian, they may be a forbidden fruit. I can't imagine a vegetarian version since the soup inside is based on a porky stock. Perhaps there's an all-seafood version out there.

 

there should be fish and prawn filled dumplings with seafood soup as a base.

 

Thanks Josh, but I'm afraid I don't eat fish either. I'll just have to skip the dumplings. Too bad.

 

Where is the recipe for this? I can't seem to find the link for it. Thanks!

 

Hi EC,

Unfortunately, the recipe and the article only appeared in print. Saveur has a Web site, but the article is not available online.

Josh

 

Thanks Josh, but I'm afraid I don't eat fish either. I'll just have to skip the dumplings. Too bad.

 

these things get you hooked like white castles~! get the crave~!

 

Had the soup dumplings at Joe's Shanghai in Chinatown. They are great. But we also had some braised tofu over spinach that I so would love to get the recipe for. Just can't get it the way they do it. Help!

 

aren't they suppose to be little buns in steamer baskets ? Shanghai dumplings are made of a slightly thicker dough wrap vs. the xiu long bao though !

 

I found the recipe referred to in this article. Perhaps they have only recently put it up?
http://www.saveur.com/food/classic-recipes/shanghai-soup-dumplings-50230.html

 

Wow, those look delicious! And the description of how to eat it sounds so yummy, by biting off a little piece of the doughy wrapper and drinking out the broth. I'll have to check this out.

 

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those look delicious! And the description of how to eat it sounds so yummy, by biting off a little piece of the doughy wrapper and drinking out the broth. I'll have to check this out.
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I can't imagine a vegetarian version since the soup inside is based on a porky stock. Perhaps there's an all-seafood version out there.

 

I can't imagine a vegetarian version since the soup inside is based on a porky stock. Perhaps there's an all-seafood version out there.

 

Perhaps there's an all-seafood version out there.

 


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wow those look lovely, now i am in the mood for dumplings

 

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kaifeng (开封)of china is famous for is Soup Dumplings~~delicious!!

 

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Yummy I would love to try those, the restaurant is only 10 min away from me.

 

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