Using a metal spoon, I broke up the icey stock cubes and wrapped my Xiao long baos a different way today - placing aspic cubes inside each ball of filling, rather than breaking them up into tiny bits and mixing into the filling directly.
Filling and aspic
I used up all the filling (but less than half of the stock cubes) for 10 Xiao long baos, which meant I got a tbsp of filling into each 包。The filling tasted much better, with chopped spring onions (the white part), minced shrimps and pork, the right amount of and some chicken broth (though the latter could be more).
However, there's someting missing in the filling. It should be a little more sticky like those you get at Din Tai Fung. I went on to read more Xiao long bao recipes and figured the missing ingredients could be cornstarch, and ginger/scallion water in place of minced ginger and scallion. Shall add that at my next attempt.
Dumpling skin and wrapping skills
Ready-made dumpling skins are stiffer than self-kneaded ones. But the stiffness probably made it easier to knead neater Xiao long baos. I didn't count how many pleats I did (Din Tai Fung Xiao long baos have 18 pleats each). That didn't matter a lot to me as long as I could bring all the edges together at the centre. Appearance-wise, my 阿扁包 have definitely risen up significantly.
Most recipes I found advised a 12 mins' steaming time. I steamed just the napa leaves for 2 mins, then the Xiao long baos for another 10 mins. However, they seemed a little overcooked with tougher skins and filling. Guessed the wok which I used as a steamer probably needs lesser time. Shall try 8 mins next round.
I had the mood to prepare a dipping sauce with julienned ginger. For my virgin Xiao long baos, I was too tired to prepare the sauce. After a few tries and pouring away an overly salty or vinegary sauce, I made a good one. Will share it together with the recipe in due time. Read on!
I ended up attempting a minimal stir-fry with a wooden spatula on my left hand and a big metal spoon on the other. Nevertheless, I could hold up the light skillet with just one hand and empty my cooked dishes into the serving plates. (I would have hurt my wrist if I did the same with my heavy wok). Glad the two simple dishes - Nai bai stir-fry & Shrimps stir-fry still turned out fine.