Monday, May 17, 2010

The Making of the Din Tai Fung Xiao Long Bao

This post was an invited session by Din Tai Fung Singapore through Sixth Sense Communications & PR Consultancy for Food Bloggers.

When I got an email a few weeks ago from Sixth Sense asking if I would like to attend a Din Tai Fung culinary workshop on the art of making their famous Steamed Pork Dumplings (Xiao Long Bao), I wondered if I should go.

Guess what? For the next few days, I was thinking of XLB all the time! Images of XLB appear all the time! It was torturous! I remembered that their branch in Hong Kong has recently been award 1 Michelin Star. So to stop torturing myself, I thought I should just go! I was glad I did!

The workshop was held at the new Din Tai Fung branch at 313@Somerset.

The demonstration was by their master chef. He hails from Taiwan and he's the No. 1 expert here.

Head Chef at Din Tai Fung showing us how to make their Xiao Long Bao

If you are wondering what goes into dough for the XLB skin, it's just flour and water. But the flour they used are all flown in from Taiwan!

The flour is imported from Taiwan!

I noticed that the chef is extremely gentle with the dough! You can see he is exerting pressure on the dough, but when you look at him, he treats the dough so gently. I wonder if that's the secret into making delicious XLB! As they say, you can present the same ingredients to different people and yet they can't produce the same results.

It was actually enjoyable watching him knead the dough. The kneaded dough has to be given time to rest.

Preparing the Dough for the Skin

Just like in cooking shows, to save time, in a blink of the eye, a new piece of dough appears!
You can see how smooth and shiny the rested dough looks!

Preparing the Dough for the Skin

The Chef then portioned the dough into 3 pieces.

Preparing the Dough for the Skin

Each piece is then rolled into a long and thin rods.

Preparing the Dough for the Skin

He then further portions them into little 5 grams sizes.
He can pinch each piece and they all almost weight the same!

Weighing the dough

Each piece of 5 gram dough is then rolled using a rolling pin into 6.5 cm in diameter skin.

Rolling the Skin

This was how the skin looks ready to be made into XLBs.
The skin in the middle was thicker than the sides. The sides were thinner so you can fold the 18 pleats.

The 6.5 cm in diameter skin

Is this some kungfu move? Kind of. You need real kungfu to hold your fingers at this position all the time!
It's the finger position for holding and folding the XLB.

The Finger Position

With the position, you hold skin and put in the filling and at the same time have support for the XLB.

You might ask why is the filling red bean paste? It is because the demo is for food bloggers. They know we can't handle the real stuff! (They are right!) To be able to handle the real thing, we need 2.5 years of hard training!

Wrapping the Din Tai Fung Xiao Long Bao

Watch the following short video I took on:
1. How the chef rolls the XLB skin.
2. How the chef fold the 18 pleats XLB.

If you missed it in the video, this is how it looks. How neat!

The XLB so nicely wrapped.

While the chef was doing the demonstration, the group of food blogger were busy snapping and videoing away!

I can't help not showing this.

Bright Red Nails

This was the XLB with the real meat that has been steamed.

Din Tai Fung Xiao Long Bao

For XLBs that has been made properly, you can lift it up with your chopsticks without breaking the skin although the skin's so thin.

Din Tai Fung Xiao Long Bao

Oh, looking at this photo makes me want to have some now.
See how well the skin holds the meat and the soup inside the XLB.

Din Tai Fung Xiao Long Bao

After the chef showed us how to do it, it was our turn.
All I can say that it was NOT EASY! Even after 10 tries, my XLB still looked absolutely ugly.

Have you seen the chefs at the see-thru kitchen at work? They can do it so well because they have all gone though 2.5 years of training!

After our hands-on session, the folks at Din Tai Fung gave us a surprise by serving us lunch!
Check out the next post to see what we ate.

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red fir said...

Looking at these photos makes me salivate already lah. I want to eat XLB now too!

hehe whose bright red nails do they belong to?

Katie said...

Wow, that would take forever to make a lot of those just judging by the time it took to make that one. It looked fabulous - but I was a bit distracted by the continuous flashing of cameras lol!

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