How To Properly Eat Xiao Long Bao

These soupy dumplings can be tricky to eat.

IMAGE Kanghee Han from Pixabay

Dumplings are delicious little parcels served as appetizers on the Chinese menu. Dumplings are characterized by small sheets of dough which enclose balls of flavorful fillings. These fillings can range from seasoned ground meat to finely chopped herbs. 

There are many kinds of dumplings that you can make and there are some that are so special to make that it takes time to master making it. One special dumpling is the xiao long bao

Also known as soup dumplings, the xiao long bao is a dumpling very similar to the siomai that we are familiar with but with a rather big difference: there's soup inside. That liquid might make eating it confusing. 

How do you eat this filled parcel of dough if there's soup in it waiting to spill out? 

These special dumplings filled with soup requires you to eat it right, so here are the eating tips you need to know: 

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You'll need both utensils to eat the xiao long bao.
Photo by StockSnap from Pixabay
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1 Use both the chopsticks and spoon. 

Once your order arrives, you know it's time to eat it quickly. The soup dumplings really are best eaten when still hot! That's because the soup inside melted in the heat so it could be slurped while hot. If it cools, not only will that lessen the hot deliciousness of the soup but it might also congeal when cold since the soup is made with natural gelatin. 

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To get started on eating your xiao long bao, you'll need both the chopstick and the Chinese spoon. Use your dominant hand for wielding the chopsticks and use the spoon as the support utensil. Here's how to do it:

  1. 1. Using your chopsticks, grab hold of a dumpling by the center. You'll need a firm grip on the dumpling since these are filled with soup and a meatball and it will feel squishy before you can get a hold of the xiao long bao
  2. 2. Once you have a firm grip on the dumpling, lift it up and bring the spoon under the dumpling. Place it on the spoon without letting go of the xiao long bao. This will help you safely guide it from the steamer basket and closer to you. 
  3. 3. Once close enough, you'll want to grasp the dumpling firmly again with the chopsticks as you lift it up to your mouth for your first bite. 

2 Bite off the top of the dumpling. 

However, even that first bite needs to be the right kind of bite! With soup dumplings, the right way of starting to eat one is to release the soup from the dumpling. To do that, you need to bite off the top of the dumpling. 

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See that pointed, pinched tip of the xiao long bao? That pinched top is the lid of the dumpling. Just bite off that little bit of wrapper on top to expose the liquid soup and meatball inside. 

See those pinched tops? That's where you start.
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3 Slurp! 

The top is off and the soup glistens inside. Time to slurp. Use the spoon that the dumpling is resting on to tilt it towards your mouth and hold the dumpling steady with your chopsticks. Use the opening to slurp or sip the soup right up!  

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4 Dip it then eat it. 

Once all the soup has been sipped, you can enjoy the rest of the dumpling. Since all the soup is gone, you can grab the dumpling and dip it in the dipping sauce provided. This dipping sauce is usually a simple combination of two ingredients, namely Chinese black vinegar with strips of finely sliced ginger

Keep doing this until your order of xiao long bao is consumed! You can order another steamer basket full of these soup-filled dumplings to practice your newfound knowledge on how to properly eat a xiao long bao one after another. 

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