Chicken Xiao Long Bao, famous Chinese dumplings known as Xiao Long Bao are filled with chicken and small plant-based gelatin cubes (agar-agar) and steamed to perfert juicy dumplings.
I have been making my version of Soup Dumpling aka Xiao Long Bao with chicken for about a year now and I am so happy to finally share this with everyone. If you do not eat pork, this recipe is for you as it’s made with chicken instead of pork and I use agar agar - plant-based gelatin for the soup. Unlike other dumplings, this is a two step process and requires a little bit of planning ahead. I used Andrea Nguyen’s recipe as a guide which is very comprehensive and I suggest you give it a read.
Chicken Soup Dumplings has three main components : the wrapper, soup (gelatin), and the filling.
Dumpling wrappers can be made fresh or use a store-bought kind. At an Asian grocery store, I have seen pre-made dumpling wrappers labelled as “soup dumpling wrapper” which are slightly bigger than regular wrappers. You can use those or, Shanghai-style dumpling wrapper (Twin Marquis brand) is a good choice. If making fresh dumpling wrapper, I suggest following Andrea’s recipe.
If you are interested in colorful wrappers, replace water with vegetable juice such as beet juice, carrot juice, spinach juice, and turmeric/water mix. I will do a post at a later time on using natural foods for making colorful dumpling wrappers as I am still working on perfecting the ratios.
Soup/Gelatin : Traditionally, the soup/broth part is made with a combination of ham/meat-based stock, and gelatin. My version uses agar-agar and I season my store-bought chicken broth with additional ginger & scallions. You can also use your favorite bouillon cube or broth to make the soup and add agar agar to it. Agar-agar takes a couple of hours to set so plan that time accordingly or make the agar-agar in advance.Filling: For the filling, I use chicken thigh and grind it at home and I think that makes a huge difference. Ground beef, pork, or chicken can be used interchangeably depending on your choice of protein seasoned with soy, sesame, Chinese cooking wine, salt, pepper, and scallions.
I have made this recipe many times and the key to a juicy soup dumpling is to get adequate amount of gelatin mixed in with the meat and making sure it’s sealed properly. If you are new at wrapping dumplings, pay extra attention while wrapping and sealing the edges.
Chicken Xiao Long Bao
- 1 steamer basket
For the gelatin/broth
- 4 cups chicken broth of choice
- 1 large knob ginger, sliced
- 3 sprigs green onions, chopped
- 2 teaspoon agar agar powder (I use Telephone brand agar agar from Asian grocery store)
For the filling
- 1 lb ground chicken thigh
- 3 sprigs scallions, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 tabelspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 teaspoon Chinese cooking wine (Shaoxing wine)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
For the dough
- Use store-bought wrapper such as “soup dumpling wrapper” or “Shanghai- Style dumpling wrapper”. For fresh wrapper, follow this recipe
- In a medium sauce pan, bring chicken broth, scallions, and ginger to a simmer for few minutes. Use a spider spoon or something similar to fish out ginger and scallion pieces.
- Turn the heat to high and bring the chicken broth to a boil. Sprinkle agar agar over the broth and mix everything until well combined. Let it boil for 2-3 minutes then remove from heat.
- Pour the mixture into a rectangular cake pan (9 by 13 inches) or something similar. Let it cool for 1-2 hours until solid. You can store in the refrigerator or on a counter top. This can be made 1-2 days in advance and kept in the fridge covered until ready to be used.
- Once set, use a knife to cut the agar-agar into a crisscross pattern. The agar-agar should be small cubes about ¼”.
- In a medium bowl, mix the ground chicken with scallions, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, Shaoxing wine, salt, pepper, sugar. Add about 1.5 cups of agar-agar into the mix until well combined and set aside.
- If making dough from scratch, start that process as it takes 1 hour for the dough to rest and additional few minutes to roll. For store-bought dumplings, make sure it’s thawed and ready to be wrapped.
- For assembling a dumpling, take a wrapper (storbought) in your left hand, then gently wet the top edge of wrapper with water using your right index finger. Take about 1 tablespoon of filling and position in the center of the wrapper. I like to add couple of agar-agar cubes on top for extra juiciness.
- Use both your index fingers and thumbs to pleat and pinch the edge of the dough together to form a closed satchel. It’s really important to pinch and twist the dough at the end to completely seal your dumpling.Repeat the process until you are done with the filling.
- Arrange the finished dumplings on a steamer basket lined with napa cabbage or a non-stick cooking spray. Bring the steamer to a rolling boil and steam dumplings for 8-10 minutes until they are slightly puffy and translucent.
- If cooking at a later time, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange dumplings ½ inch in between. Freeze the dumplings for few hours, then transfer them into a ziplock bag.
- Frozen dumplings can be steamed directly without thawing and follow the same directions from #9.
- Enjoy with your favorite chili oil, dipping sauce, or black vinegar and sliced ginger.