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As a child abroad, I enjoyed the times when my mother would steam some of these frozen goodies bought from the freezer section of the local Chinese grocery. She always told us to be very careful while eating these little parcels as they were filled with hot soup and could easily scald us. We tried to listen, but they were so tempting, we often did just what she told us not to.
Xiaolongbao is usually filled with minced pork and a pork broth. It's always a test of our chopstick skills: Pick up a dumpling, dip it in the dark vinegar with ginger slivers, and get it to our mouths without breaking the thin wrapper.
We often wondered how they managed to wrap soup in the dumpling. I thought they froze the broth and added it. It seems I was not too far off. The soupy filling for the dumplings is made by adding a gelling agent to the broth. When it had turned to jelly, it would be cut up in cubes and mixed into the mince and seasoning.
When the dumpling is steamed, the heat turns the jelly back into soup.
In my years in Hong Kong I have tried many soup dumplings and compared notes with friends on where the "best" ones are.
One of my favorites was in a basement restaurant near Tin Hau subway station. Unfortunately, as with many small independent restaurants, it did not survive the high rents and running costs.
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