Soup Dumplings are arguably the second most genius creation of Chinese food culture, aside from the chopsticks that you use to eat them. They’re as chewy and flavorful as any beloved dumpling, but magically contain a soupy surprise inside. And when I say soup, I mean hot, flavorful soup—that will spill from a broken dumpling if not handled properly.
If you’re a soup dumpling virgin, make sure you don’t make these rookie mistakes during your first Xiaolongbao experience.
The Secret is the Filling
Soup dumplings come in an assortment of meat, vegetable, and flavor combinations, but all have one key ingredient: soup.
The secret is in the filling, for which soup is made into a gelatin and cut into tiny squares that are mixed in before the wrapping process. (Which totally makes more sense than having soup injected into the dumpling, as I had previously thought.)
Trial and Error
My first try at eating a fragile soup dumpling was a bust. I naively picked one up with chopsticks and watched in horror as the dumpling broke, spilling precious drops of soup all over my plate. Determined to try again, I lifted the second dumpling with more delicacy this time, and shoved it directly into my mouth, where I was immediately met with the searing pain of a burst of hot soup.
Still, I didn't give up. There had to be another way.
The Right Way
Soup dumplings are always served with a soup spoon, a hint that they are necessary for this process. By gently picking up a dumpling with the support of a soup spoon, the dumpling is free to break and spill its contents without dripping everywhere.
The dumpling can then sit safely in the spoon and wait for you to suck out the hot soup, slowly and without burning your mouth. After the liquid is slurped up, feel free to eat it as you would a regular dumpling.
It's Your Turn
By following this guide to soup dim sum, you can save yourself the pain of not knowing how to properly eat one of NYC’s trendiest Chinese food staples. If you’re ever in the area, try Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns Ramen, Located on the corner of West 48th and 8th Ave in Manhattan. They are reasonably priced and offer an extensive soup dumpling selection, along with other awesome Chinese dishes to try.