Shanghai Soup Dumplings



(You can make a flavorful broth using this recipe.  Or, if you are short of time, substitute with 1 cup of chicken stock--preferably homemade-- plus one packet of gelatin)

5 cups water

1-pound chicken thighs

1 ½ ounce Chinese-styled cured, smoked ham such as Smithfield ham. (I used Speck) cut into strips

½ cup spring onions, chopped.  White part only

1 1-inch-thick slice of peeled, fresh ginger

1 whole dried shiitake mushroom or 3 slices of dried porcini mushrooms

1 small clove of garlic, flattened

1 Tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine (Shaoxing), dry Vermouth or dry Sherry

½ tablespoon unflavored gelatin (1 envelope)



6 oz lean ground pork (finely chopped)

3 oz peeled, deveined, uncooked shrimp, finely chopped.  (Crab meat can be substituted)

¼ cup finely chopped spring onions, white part only

1 Tablespoon soy sauce

1 small garlic clove, mince

2 Tablespoon finely chopped carrots

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

1 teaspoon freshly grated, peeled fresh ginger

1 ½ teaspoon Shaoxing wine (Chines rice wine)

1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil



1 14-oz packet of round dumpling wrappers

Napa Cabbage or lettuce leaves for lining steamers

Dipping Sauce:

½ cup black vinegar

3 Tablespoons soy sauce

1 Tablespoon thin, matchstick-sized strips of fresh, peeled ginger

Cooking Instructions:


1.       Put water and all ingredients, except gelatin, into a pot.

2.       Bring to boil, skimming off any foam which rises to the top.

3.       Reduce heat and cook 35-40 minutes until chicken starts to fall of the bone.

4.       Remove chicken.  Remove flesh from the bone and set aside for another use.

5.       Put the bones back into the broth and continue to cook another 45 minutes (approximately) reducing it to 1 cup liquid. 

6.       Strain, discarding all solids, and put back into the pot.

7.       Dissolve the gelatin in a small bowl using 1 ½ Tablespoons warm water.

8.       Add gelatin into the broth and stir.

9.       Pour into a 13 X 9 X 2-inch size glass dish, cover, and refrigerate aspic overnight.


1.       Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.

2.       Cut aspic into 1/2-inch cubes.

3.       Add aspic to pork mixture and mix thoroughly.

This can be made one day in advance.  Be sure to cover tightly and bring to room temperature before filling dumplings.

Assembling dumplings:

1.       Work with one dumpling wrapper at a time, keeping the others under a wet paper towel to avoid drying out.

2.       Have a bowl of water on hand for moistening the skins. Lightly brush the outer edge of each dumpling wrapper with water.

3.       Put the wrapper in the palm of your hand and make a small indentation.  Add 1 generous teaspoon of filling make sure you have 2 -3 cubes of broth.

4.       Bring one edge of the wrapper up around the filling and start the pleating process until all the filling is enclosed.

5.       Carefully twist the top of the dumpling so that no filling falls out during steaming process.

6.       Repeat until all dumplings are made. You can place on a lined cooking sheet or place directly into the steamer.

7.       You can prepare the dumplings one day in advance.  Refrigerate and bring to room temperature before cooking. You can also freeze the dumplings.

Cooking the dumplings:

1.       Line steamer with cabbage or lettuce leaves.

2.       If using a wok, fill with water until it reaches just below the steamer. 

3.       Bring water to boil.  Place the steamers in tiers and cover.  Steam for approximately 12 minutes being careful to add more water if needed.  (If you are using frozen dumplings, add 3 extra minutes to the cooking process.)

4.       Turn off the heat. Place steamers serving platters. Each can use a porcelain soupspoon to transfer the dumplings into their own small bowl.

5.       Serve with dipping sauce.

6.       Be sure to follow instructions on how to eat the dumplings found on the First Course section this week’s post.  It avoids the soup dripping all over your guests’ clothing.

Dipping sauce:

1.        Mix together all the ingredients in a small bowl and stir.  This can be done a day in advance too!

2.       Cover and refrigerate.  Remember to bring to room temperature before serving.

Makes: 30-32 dumplings

Recommended wine: Sparkling wine of your choice!