The Shanghai Soup Dumpling

In Chinese, xiao long bao. In English, soup dumpling. I call it, heaven.

Shanghai Temple
Typical Shanghai Temple

If you plan to visit Shanghai, you cannot leave until you have experienced the one, the only, soup dumpling. An iconic dish of Shanghai, the soup dumpling is the perfect bite of (usually) pork meat bundled up in a delicate wrapper and then steamed in bamboo baskets. However, do not dare to attempt eating them with a fork and knife, as I learned from my first failed attempt at trying to eat them. Each soup dumpling after preparation is filled with a savory broth, and to let it go to waste, or all over your shirt, would be a shame. But never fear! There is a technique to eating them. Carefully select a soup dumpling from the bamboo basket by taking hold of the top part of the dumpling. Then, place it in a spoon. Do not devour the soup dumpling whole or else your tongue will get very burnt. Instead, take small bites being careful not to let any of the broth spill away. Finally, the best part, slurp the broth out of the dumpling as loud as you want (don’t worry, it’s not considered rude) and when all of the broth is gone, gobble up the rest of the dumpling.

Soup dumplings are the perfect delicacy for a snack or a light meal and are easily found on the streets of Shanghai. I had my soup dumpling experience at Din Tai Fung Restaurant in the popular, leisure neighborhood of Xin Tian Di; however, there are countless soup dumpling restaurants to try. Regardless of where your first soup dumpling moment is, enjoying authentic Shanghai soup dumplings is an important Shanghai experience and tradition of the Chinese culture at large. More importantly, like other Chinese foods, soup dumplings provide a perfect opportunity to share and create new memories with family and friends over a great culinary tradition.

Story by Nora Chen and Photo by Olaya Barr


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