Favorite foods. xiao lung bao. (Part 1).
For some reason I've been thinking about xiao lung bao, those little steamed soup buns, all day long. Perhaps because it's been so long since I've had them. It's hard to find good ones in the United States, unless you're in New York or Los Angeles. They are one of my favorite foods, and I can eat a whole steamer of them. A good xiao lung bao has a thin, delicate wrapper encasing a ball of ground pork (sometimes with crab meat, or other fillings), floating in a fragrant, hot broth. I was once severely reprimanded for eating my bao the wrong way, letting the juices run out over the plate. Here, then, is the proper way to eat them: your left hand holds a flat-bottomed soup spoon under the dumpling, to catch any drips; with the chopsticks in your right hand, you grasp the dumpling, along with a few slivers of fresh ginger, dip everything into a dish of vinegar, gently, carefully take a bite, sucking out the hot, rich broth as you eat it. Heavenly. Tender dumpling skin, meaty filling that manages to be light and rich at the same time, the bite of dark vinegar and the crisp warmth of ginger. (I do not recommend eating it in one bite. You could burn yourself that way).
Whenever I'm in Taipei, I head immediately to Ding Tai Fong. If I'm lucky it's just my mother and me, since she prefers the steamed vegetarian dumplings (also quite good), which means I can eat as many xiao lung bao as I want. Happiness is a whole tray of xiao lung bao all to yourself, and a pot of tea.