You pick them up as gingerly as possible with your chopsticks… and then what?

Many a debate has arisen about the proper way to enjoy the little heavenly pouches of soup dumplings called xiao long bao.

The bite-sized morsels are misunderstood as much as they have come a long way from their birth home in Shanghai. They’re a marvel in themselves – dumplings of delicate skin so thin, it’s translucent, yet strong enough to hold minced meat and shrimp as well as a pocket of soup within.

They are served steaming hot in bamboo baskets, unveiled sitting demurely on a sheet of cloth to protect their bases, a sight that sets precedence to the eventful steps that lie ahead to dig into it.

You pick them up as gingerly as possible with your chopsticks… and then what?

One Din Tai Fung restaurant in Taipei shares the correct steps in a printed leaflet laid out for all on its tables.

Step 1:

Mix soy sauce with a dash of vinegar in the sauce dish and add shredded pickled ginger into the mix.

Step 2:

Pick up the xiao long bao by its tip, where the skin is thickest. This also prevents uneven pressure on the thin middle, which might potentially break it. Dip the flat base of the dumpling into the soy sauce with vinegar, and then place it in your soup spoon.

Step 3:

Using your chopsticks, make a small tear in the side of the xiao long bao to let the soup out. Sip the soup first if you like.

Step 4:

Add ginger and more soy sauce to the dumpling and then eat the dumpling.

There you have it, no more confusion or burning your tongue when you pop the whole thing straight into your mouth.

(Photo: Din Tai Fung)