ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN DE MODE JUN 2020 (Vol III, Issue XV)
Article Published on: 04 APR 2023 | www.demodemagazine.com
1. XIAOLONGBAO OR SOUP DUMPLINGS
Xiaolongbao is one of the most famous Chinese steamed dumplings, but one of the most time-consuming to make from scratch. Inside the dumpling are little pockets of gelatinized broth made from chicken, pork, and cured ham. When you steam the dumpling, the broth gelatin melts. It is a type of Chinese steamed bun from the Jiangnan region, especially associated with Shanghai and Wuxi.
It is traditionally prepared in Xiaolong, which is a kind of small bamboo steaming basket, which give them their name. These soup dumplings should be your first meal in Shanghai. Delicate thin-skinned dumplings, with pork/vegetable/chicken/shrimp or crab fillings inside with a delicious hot broth, each is an explosion of flavor in the mouth.
Soup 10 cups plus 3 tablespoons (or more) water 2 3/4 to 3 pounds chicken wings, backs, and necks 2 1/2 ounces Chinese-style cured smoked ham, cut into 4 slices 3/4 cup coarsely chopped green onions (white parts only) 2 (1-inch-diameter 1/2-inch-thick) slices peeled fresh ginger 1 whole dried shiitake mushroom 1 large garlic clove, flattened 1 tablespoon soy sauce 2 teaspoons Shaoxing wine (Chinese rice wine) 1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin (from 2 envelopes)
1 cup black vinegar 6 tablespoons soy sauce 2 tablespoons very thin matchstick-size strips peeled fresh.
1 pound ground pork 1/4 pound peeled deveined uncooked shrimp, finely chopped 1/3 cup finely chopped green onions (white parts only) 3 tablespoons sugar 2 tablespoons soy sauce 1 large garlic clove, minced 3/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 1/2 teaspoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger 1/2 teaspoon Shaoxing wine (Chinese rice wine) 1/4 teaspoon Asian sesame oil.
75 (about) 3-inch square or round dumpling wrappers (from two 14-ounce packages) 1 large head of Napa cabbage, leaves separated.
Stock your pantry Look for the ingredients and supplies featured here at an Asian market or online at adrianascaravan.com: Chinese-style cured smoked ham (or use Smithfield ham), dried shiitake mushrooms, Shaoxing (also spelled Shao Hsing) wine, black vinegar, dumpling wrappers (don't use wonton wrappers; they are too thin), and bamboo steamer sets.
Make the soup
Combine 10 cups water and all remaining soup ingredients except gelatin in a large pot. Bring to a boil, spooning off any foam that rises to the surface. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until chicken pieces are very soft and beginning to fall apart, adding more water by cupfuls if necessary to keep chicken submerged, about 2 hours 30 minutes.
Strain and chill
Strain soup; discard solids. Return broth to same pot. Boil until reduced to 2 cups, about 35 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Pour 3 tablespoons water into a small bowl; sprinkle gelatin over. Let stand until the gelatin softens. Add to hot broth; stir until gelatin is dissolved. Transfer to a 13x9x2-inch glass dish. Cover; refrigerate aspic overnight.
Make the sauce
Mix 1 cup black vinegar, 6 tablespoons soy sauce, and 2 tablespoons fresh ginger strips in a small bowl. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Make the filling
Combine all filling ingredients in a large bowl and mix with a fork just until blended. Cut aspic into 1/3-inch cubes. Add aspic to pork mixture; stir gently with a wooden spoon just until incorporated. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.
Assemble the dumplings
Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Place 1 dumpling wrapper on the work surface. Spoon 1 very generous teaspoon of filling onto the center of the wrapper, including at least 2 or 3 aspic cubes.
Pleat the wrapper
Lightly brush the edges of the dumpling wrapper with water. Bring 1 corner of the wrapper up around the filling, then pleat the remaining edges of the wrapper at regular intervals all around the filling until the filling is enclosed and the wrapper forms a bundle-like shape with a small opening at the top.
Twist the top
Gather the top edges of the wrapper together and twist at the top to enclose the filling. Place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling. DO AHEAD Can be refrigerated, covered, for 1 day, or frozen in a single layer in covered containers for 2 weeks.
Prepare the steamer
Line each layer of the bamboo steamer basket with cabbage leaves; place over a wok filled with enough water to reach just below the bottom of the bamboo steamer basket. (Or line a metal steamer rack with cabbage leaves and set it over water in a large pot.) Place dumplings atop cabbage, spacing them apart.
Steam the dumplings
Bring water to a boil. Cover; steam until cooked through, adding more water to wok if evaporating too quickly, about 12 minutes for fresh dumplings and 15 minutes for frozen. Serve dumplings immediately, passing sauce alongside for dipping.
2. SHANGHAI SMOKED FISH, XUN YU
Shanghai-style Smoked Fish, Xun Yu is another traditional Shanghai dish. Ideal for those who like highly spiced food, Shanghai's "smoked" fish slices (fresh fish marinated and spiced to taste like smoked fish) make a tasty dish. The fish is usually a carp and is prepared in a way that tastes smoked and delicious. It has a crispy outer skin and the meat inside is beautifully cooked and tender, thanks to all that deep-frying goodness.
For the fish and marinade
2½ pounds of small buffalo carp, pomfret, or kingfish, cut into ¾-inch thick cross-sections
4 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
½ teaspoon salt 3 teaspoons grated ginger.
For the “secret” sauce
3 cups water
4 slices ginger
1 Chinese cinnamon stick (gui pi)
5 bay leaves
90 grams of brown rock sugar
½ cup Shaoxing wine
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
5 tablespoons light soy sauce
1½ tablespoons dark soy sauce
½ teaspoon Chinese black vinegar
½ cup orange juice
Wash and clean the fish pieces, and pat them thoroughly dry with a paper towel. Gently mix the fish and all of the marinade ingredients, spreading them out to a single layer on a baking sheet, uncovered. Let the fish marinate in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours. Overnight is best. The fish will dry out slightly, which is perfect for frying later.
For the sauce, add the water, ginger, star anise, cinnamon, and bay leaves to a small pot, and bring it to a boil. Turn the heat down to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the star anise and cinnamon. Add the brown rock sugar, Shaoxing wine, oyster sauce, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, Chinese black vinegar, scallions, and orange juice. Simmer slowly over medium-low heat until the sauce reduces to about 2 cups (about 20-30 minutes). If necessary, remove the lid towards the end to achieve a slightly thicker sauce, but do keep an eye on it to avoid over-reducing the sauce. Once it’s done, scoop out all the solid spices with a slotted spoon, and let the sauce cool completely. Then it’s ready to use.
Now, to fry the fish. Add 2-3 inches of canola or vegetable oil in a deep, small pot (to avoid using too much oil). Heat the oil to 375 degrees F, and fry the fish in batches of three to four pieces until they turn golden brown. Do not stir the fish around until there is a golden crust, or the delicate fish might fall apart in the cooking oil. It’s also best to fry the fish once to get a golden brown color, and then fry the fish again until it’s a dark golden brown. There is no need to worry about over-frying the fish.
Next, put the sizzling fried fish directly into the prepared sauce. Ensure all of the pieces are totally coated. The golden brown crust on the fish will soak up the sauce and flavor the fish. Let the fish soak in the sauce overnight, or at least for a few hours before serving. To serve, plate a few pieces and leave any leftovers in the sauce in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve it.
3. GRILLED OYSTERS
Shanghai is seafood foodie heaven and we have an entire street dedicated to oysters, mussels, scallops, crawfish, and abalone (and for cheap!) to prove it. Every vendor on Shouning Lu has a slightly different take on three preparations of grilled oysters: oysters with black bean sauce, oysters with chili oil and garlic, and wannabe French oysters in "cheese" sauce.
2 cups butter, softened
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
2 dozen large fresh oysters on the half shell.
Step 1 Preheat grill to 450°. Pulse the first 8 ingredients in a food processor until well combined.
Step 2 Arrange oysters in a single layer on the grill. Spoon 2 tsp. butter mixture into each oyster; grill, uncovered, for 7 minutes or until edges curl.
Step 3 Broiled Oysters: Preheat broiler with oven rack 3 inches from heat. Prepare the recipe as directed, placing oysters in a single layer in a jelly-roll pan. Broil for 4 minutes or until edges curl and butter drips over the shell.