Plenty of people have sampled dim sum. Far fewer have savored an offshoot called Shanghai soup dumplings. YouTube videos offer at least one reason why: Untutored diners can end up wearing the soup-filled dumplings, not eating them.
These little packets of pleasure, also called mini juicy buns, are as tricky to make as they are to eat, and many restaurants don’t want to take them on. But the recently opened Szechuan Spice in south Minneapolis makes a first-rate mini juicy bun. The restaurant’s owners come from the Tea House in St. Paul, the first local spot to feature the dumplings.
“There definitely is a right way and a wrong way to do this,” Szechuan Spice proprietor Jenni Shi says about eating mini juicy buns. The first step is the tricky transfer of the dumpling from its serving steamer to a large porcelain soup spoon. Puncture the skin and all the soupy goodness will stream out.
Shi says the next step is the crucial one: “Carefully take a bite out of the tip of the dumpling to let the build-up of steam escape and then carefully suck out the soup.” Savor a mouthful of the amazingly tasty broth, then spoon a little of the accompanying black vinegar and ginger sauce into the open packet before you down the lightly doughy wrapper and its minced pork filling. Get the knack and you’ll be hooked.
3013 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis
Szechuan Spice’s Jenni Shi says the ginger-seasoned broth isn’t put into the dumplings, it develops as the pork cooks inside the wrapper, and it only works if the filling and the dough are just the right consistency. How to eat them without a burn or a spill?
1) Move a dumpling to your spoon gently, without puncturing the wrapper.
2) Bite a piece out of the wrapper to let steam escape, then suck out the broth.
3) Drizzle in a little black vinegar and ginger sauce to add another layer of flavor before you pop the dumpling into your mouth.