Wednesday, April 4, 2012

D is for Dumpling

Moving right along....but before we move right along let me add a p.s. to yesterday's post.  It would have made a lot of sense to actually post pics of the coats but I received the finished products, tucked them in my suitcase and moved on to the next leg of our journey which was Taiwan. No need for a cashmere coat or a rain jacket in warm sunny Taipei but I did snap this picture today to satisfy your curiosity.  

I hope my photography instructor isn't visiting here today.  In my defense my hall is super sunny and I'm jet lagged. 

Now, on to today's A-Z challenge...D is for dumpling.  Or as they say in Shanghai,  Xiaolongbao.  I wish I had a nickel for every time my hubs said that word.  It's a fun word to say.   I'll tell you upfront that I encountered a couple of food items I might not order again, but this was not one of them.   D is also for delicious!  

Xiaolongbao is a type of 'bun' steamed in a bamboo basket.  Not a great picture but we were mid meal when we remembered to take a photo. Xiaolongbao is a popular dish and I think there's some variation depending on which part of China you're in.  A Chinese friend there said I could think of it kind of as their hamburger since its essentially meat on the inside and starch on the outside.  Nearly everyone in Shanghai dines on Xiaolongbao for lunch or dinner.    The 'dumplings' are traditionally filled with pork but we also had some filled with pork and shrimp and my favorite, pork and crab. 

Time to make the donuts dumplings...

I was advised to look around before I started eating as some of the customs are quite different than what we're used to.  Chinese food in China involves dexterity with your chopsticks and slurping and lots of bones that are, to put it bluntly, gnawed on to get the meat and then deposited on the table.  In the U.S. we don't typically serve soups with bones in the broth but this is their custom and its fun to just go with the flow when it comes to food in foreign countries.  Consider that today's travel tip.  

The way to eat a dumpling is to grab it with your chopstick in one hand while holding it over a spoon held in your other hand.   Ever so carefully you bite into the dumpling which allows some of the nuclear hot steam to escape and prevents you burning your mouth.  Besides the meat filling there is a wonderful broth inside and this drips into the spoon so you don't miss a drop.  Nor do you want to.  Again, it would be nice to have great photos but we were too busy enjoying our meal.  

We also ordered this traditional soup one afternoon.  Its essentially broth and 'some other ingredients' encased in a dumpling.  They stick a straw in it and mark the straw with a flag that says CAUTION HOT,  which is a gross understatement.    Just a word here about 'other ingredients'...sometimes it was enough to know we were eating 'meat and broth' or 'fish and broth'.  Hearing the specifics before tasting might cause me to rethink my selection.   I'm going to write more about food in later posts.  

I do want you to know however, that I can now pick up a small round peanut with a chopstick.  Or a teeny tiny shrimp? coated in a mysterious slippery sauce.  Its true what they say about practice making perfect.   


  1. Nice coats! And Dumplings look delicious!

  2. I agree about going with the flow with food in foreign countries....and don't ask too many questions. The dumplings look fun and delicious.

  3. So ... you "drink" the soup with the straw? ;-)

    Those dumplings do look delicious.

  4. Now I am hungry! I could really go for some dumplings... American style, Chinese style... whatever. The coats look great. I can't wait to hear more about your trip.

  5. Always good to follow the culture of the day and eat like them. Looks good.

  6. Nice coats and yummy looking dumplings. I love the things. Can't wait for a major trip post.

  7. I love that you went ahead and dove into the local food. That's part of the fun (and adventure) of traveling.

    Still, I don't care where I am. I'm not eating a bug. Or a monkey.

  8. I'm very impressed you perfected the picking-up-the-peanut-with-the-chopsticks skill! I was good at that at one time. I perfected the slurping of the noodles skill and kinda forgot that it wasn't good manners in a nice Italian restaurant in the USA to do that. Oops.
    (By the way, how was the flight? Quite long? Did you have to resort to banging your head on the wall of the tiny bathroom because you thought you might go insane before you reached your destination? I "heard" of some people doing that...)

  9. I love dumplings! and I love the pictures you have on your blog.
    Great A-Z post!

  10. Beautiful coats. You've whetted my appetite for dumplings!

  11. The dumplings sound wonderful. And I love the coats. Enjoying your pictures also, can't wait to read more!
    until next time... nel

  12. Dumplings look yummy! You can use this post again for X for Xiaolongbao!

  13. I do love the coats!

    My question is when you return from your travels will it make NJ Chinese food look like the poor stepsister of authentic Chinese food?