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Expert advice: How to eat a soup dumpling

Martin Gee / For The Times

We’ve all seen it happen. The steamer basket of xiao long bao arrives at the table. Your one friend with no patience reaches in, scoops up a dumpling and eagerly plops the entire thing into his mouth. Scalding hot soup squirts from the dumpling, injuring your friend and anyone sitting within dumpling-squirt radius at the table.

Don’t be that friend.

Is a calzone a dumpling? What about an empanada? We asked the Dumpling Mafia for Season 2 of “The Bucket List,” which explores dumplings from all over the world right here in Los Angeles.

Some with a little more patience prefer to take a small bite from the dumpling skin to let the steam escape. After it cools, they sip the now lukewarm soup from the dumpling. You can go this route if you don’t mind your soup getting cold.

I have my own method, one I’ve developed hunched over countless steamer baskets. It’s by no means the correct way — some famous dumpling makers recommend the nip-and-slurp method described above — but my way will ensure no one gets hurt, and you won’t waste any precious hot soup. As a bonus, I’m including my magic dumpling sauce formula.

Who makes the best dumplings in L.A.? Jenn Harris explores soup dumplings, gyoza, mandu and more from around the world.

Step 1: Make the magic dumpling sauce
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1. Make the magic dumpling sauce by pouring 2 to 3 parts vinegar, 1 part soy sauce and a small scoop of chile sauce into a ramekin and stir.

Step 2: Pick up a soup dumpling and hold it over a spoon
(Martin Gee / For The Times)

2. Use your chopsticks to pick up a dumpling from the steamer basket and hold the dumpling over a spoon.

Step 3: Bite a small hole into the side of the soup dumpling
(Martin Gee / For The Times)

3. Nibble a small hole into the side of the dumpling.

Step 4: Tip the dumpling over the spoon and release the hot soup inside

4. Tip the dumpling over the spoon and release the hot soup inside.

Step 5: Sip the soup
(Martin Gee / For The Times)

5. Sip the soup.

Step 6: Dunk the dumpling into the magic sauce and enjoy
(Martin Gee / For The Times)

6. Dunk the dumpling into the magic sauce and enjoy.

For more dumpling intel, don’t miss “The Bucket List: Dumplings” video series at youtube.com/latimesfood


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