Xiao long bao (Soup Dumplings)
Shanghai is synonymous with xiao long bao. These broth-filled steamed pork dumplings are simple in theory but require years of refinement to get right. The perfect proportion of water, flour and oil are required to achieve the not-too-thin and not-too-thick dough that seals the fresh pork filling and hot broth in these spoon-sized baos. Good xiao long bao are not just determined by the ingredients that go into them, but by their presentation. The differentiating factor between an average and skilled chef is the number of folds (18 to 22 to be exact) on these tiny guys, a difficult task requiring a high degree of technique, experience and grace.