The dough for xiao long bao is the regular hot water dough that you make for any Chinese dumpling. Flour, salt and warm water that is then kneaded until smooth and elastic. Since this dough usually has only three ingredients—flour, salt, and water—you would think this would be simple.
While the dough is resting set up an assembly station. You will need a floured flat surface and a small rolling pin. Put the meat mix with a spoon on one side, the cabbage pieces—drained and dried—and a steamer basket on the other.
Xiao long bao (小笼包, literally “little-basket bun”) is the hot new food in San Jose this year—several restaurants have opened or recently started specializing in these Asian delights. XLBs—for short—is a kind of dim sum that falls somewhere between a steamed bun (baozi) and a dumpling (jiaozi). Both of these are usually filled with meat and/or vegetables. Boazi tend to be dry both inside and out. Jiaozi may be moister inside, but are frequently put into a soup. With xiao long bao the hot savory soup is actually already inside the bun with the filling. Son-in-law Chris has challenged me to learn to make this uniquely Shanghai dish.
Note: Although the Taiwanese claim it as their own.
I made some deviled eggs for Jan’s Ethno Breakfast—a local (Bay Area) meeting of corporate ethnologists. We had some leftover smoked trout and I thought I would experiment with it, in case Jan asked me to make another dish for the next event. Plain deviled eggs are an infinite canvas for creative new dishes.
Adapted from an America’s Test Kitchen recipe
When Jan asked for chicken mole for her birthday, the email at the top of my list was from America’s Test Kitchen with a video about chicken mole and drunken beans. The beans sounded like a good side dish for the mole, so I decided to make it myself.
I am making Jan’s birthday meal of chicken mole, beans, and rice. That is a lot of meat and starch, but Jan also likes to be vegetable forward. My original idea was for a mango and avocado salad, but for seven people that would either be very small serving for each person or very expensive.
Being the cook of the family, Jan frequently asks me to make something when she needs a mitzva meal or a dish for a potluck. Last week it was Ethno Breakfast—a local (Bay Area) meeting of corporate ethnologists. Since all except the largest firms hire only one person in this discipline, this can be an isolated job—one anthropologist amongst an entire company of engineers and MBAs. Jan has been pushing this field for several years, so some of the local practitioners are her former students. Ethno Breakfast provides a community to share ideas and problems once a month.
In the continued effort to make meals for Jan that she doesn’t have to do any biting—she has two front tooth temporary caps—I suggested salmon for dinner. She thought yams were a good soft starch to go with the fish. She then suggested that this was an Orange Dinner.