Mini Soup Dumplings

While out in Flushing for lunch with my family, a sudden thought crossed my mind as I relished the mouth-savoring taste of the mini soup dumplings. Perfect in size, I seemed to be unable to prevent myself from continuously popping them into my mouth. With the exploding bursts of flavor that sent my taste buds into a frenzy, I wondered, who was the genius who came up with this delicious idea? And, how did it get here? Of course, most importantly, what were these?

As depicted in the photographs, these delicate little buns are known as 小笼包 or xiǎo lóng bāo. Originating from a small food truck in the area known as Nanxiang, China, the soup dumplings have now grown in both size and popularity. The mastermind behind this invention was a man named Huang Mingxian. Vying with the vendors for the attention of customers, Huang Mingxian had to think of more creative ideas to sell at his growing shop. His first goal was to make the buns even juicier, by lessening the amount of pork skin used. The skin would be ground into jelly, then added to the mince. The aspic, which is “a savory jelly made with meat stock”, would blend together with the juices emitted
from the pork after boiling to become the aromatic 汤, or soup, in the buns. In addition, Huang Mingxian also decreased the thickness of the buns, and ended up successfully being able to make them as thin as dumpling wrappers! Lastly, he made sure that every 包子 was pleated exactly 14 times, creating a cinched spiral at the top. To top it off, he placed them in bamboo baskets. 小笼包 was born.

When Huang Mingxian first created it, he had actually named it “打肉馒头“, or dǎ ròu mán tou. As time went on, the moniker was eventually reformed that seemed more fitting, 小(small)笼(basket)包(bun). While Huang Mingxian’s was quite famous, it wasn’t until Din Tai Fung, a cooking-oil store turned restaurant located in Taiwan, sent the 小笼包 catapulting into international fame.

Wow, I almost can’t believe that what was once just a clever idea being sold at a cart in Shanghai would now become a classic dish in Chinese culture. Today, 小笼包 is constantly being enjoyed by eager mouths all around the world!


There are 11 comments

  1. Jeff Qasemi

    Wow,I didn’t know the origins of the dumpling. I always thought there was more culture but, it’s very interesting to know that it was made by a simple food truck and he was just looking for a new food.

  2. Juliann L

    Great article! I learned a lot about one of my favorite foods from your article. The history that you described was extremely interesting. I love how the inventor changed multiple things about dumplings and made it into his own creation. It’s great how the food has become so popular now all over the world.

  3. Maya Yu

    Amazing article! I love 小笼包, it’s one of my favorite foods. I never knew the history of 小笼包, how it originated from a small food truck. It’s fascinating to see how a once “food truck” food became a widespread, popular dish. Keep up the great work!

  4. Helen Zhang

    Awesome article! 小笼包 is one of my favorite foods. I will always go to flushing just to eat that. I didn’t know there was this much history in 小笼包. I learned a lot from this article. Thanks!

  5. Dylan Swickle

    Thanks so much for sharing this article with us!! I learned so much about such a popular food and the history is very intriguing.

  6. Emily Shi

    I never knew so much history about one of my favorite food, Just reading through this article makes my mouth water! Thanks for sharing the hard work behind this juicy delicacy~ ( I always though that 小笼包 and 饺子 were the same thing…except one tasted better hehe…)

  7. Richard R

    I love eating 小笼包, but I had no idea about the origins of this dish! It’s interesting how a dish that started out in a Shanghai food truck became famous around the world.

  8. Joanne Li

    Ohh this dish has been one of my favorites for years! I had no idea that the restaurant that I usually eat it at, 南翔小笼包, was named after the place the dish originated from. Great job!

  9. Kaydence He

    小笼包 is one of my favorites!It’s interesting how Huang Mingxian had the idea of making them with a cinched spiral at the top. I didn’t know 小笼包 originally came from Shanghai.

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