Cooking Sheng Jian Bao

Shanghai Fried Dumplings (shengjianbao) are delicious. And completely evil. You will put on 5kg just by looking at them, and boy, if you put one of these babies in your mouth you can expect to be completely hooked. They are the ultimate winter comfort food, a soft white steamed wheaten bun filled with a fragrant and savoury mixture of pork meat and soup, with a topping of chives and black sesame seeds, and a golden,crunchy fried bottom. A little like the coarse country cousin of the refined Shanghainese soup dumpling xiaolongbao.

At cooking class this week, we
made our first batch. The trick is to roll out the dumpling wrapper so it is thicker in the middle than at the edges....this keeps the top of the bun strong.

Then you have to carefully pleat the edges of the wrapper while keeping the filling inside, then pinch the pleated edges together.....for a beginner, this is so impossible you begin to lose confidence................but then at last, after much practice, you sort of get the hang of it.

Then pop them all in the pan, sizzle them with a little oil for a few minutes until the bottoms are crisp, then add a little water, and as the steam billows up cover them tightly with a lid. Steam away for 5 minutes or so....

Now enjoy the whole damn lot. Chinese vinegar optional. Try and eat just one...

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