Chinese dumplings are a whole world in themselves. If you’re new to the world of Chinese dumplings and are planning on going to a dumplings restaurant to check them out, you need to know the different types of dumplings before you look at the menu and draw a complete blank while ordering.
Although it is a common dumpling fact that each type of Chinese dumpling has different names in Schezuan, Cantonese, English and so on, we’ll guide you through an easy way to recognize a dumpling type so you can order them confidently the next time you visit a Chinese restaurant in San Francisco.
A Simple Guide To Recognizing Chinese Dumpling Types
There are two general categories of Chinese dumplings. The crescent-shaped dumplings are called gao. And the more purse-shaped and round ones are called the bao. There are millions of variations of these two depending on the kind of wrapper used, the filling added, and the way the dumplings are cooked (fried, boiled, and steamed).
Here are the seven main types of Chinese dumplings:
1. Siu Mai
Pronunciation - Shoo my
Siu Mai is a delicious round-shaped open-top dumpling. These are traditionally made with a fragile wrapper of wheat dough. Although there are many variations of the Siu Mai across different regions, the traditional Cantonese version has ground pork and shrimp filling along with other savory fillings like mushrooms, green onions, and ginger.
These are steamed in a bamboo basket, and the open top is often garnished with fish roe or green peas.
Pronunciation - Jow zee
We all know these as pot stickers. These are crescent-shaped and are made with a very thin wheat dough wrapper. These are traditionally made with ground pork, cabbage, scallions, and a dipping sauce prepared with sesame oil, soy sauce, and vinegar.
These are referred to as Shui jiao when boiled, Zheng jiao if steamed, and Jian jiao if pan-fried.
At United Dumplings, we do a killer version of the pot stickers with fillings ranging from beef, chicken, and fish to vegetables.
3. Xiao Long Bao
Pronunciation - Shau Long Bao
These have to be the ultimate comfort food. The burst of soup in your mouth when you gobble these up is the perfect warmth and happiness a food item can give you. Yes, by now, these are the ultimate soup dumplings.
These are purse-shaped dumplings with chopped pork fillings and a collagen-rich broth of fat pork trimmings that melt into thick gelatin when cooked.
At United Dumplings, we take pride in serving the ultimate XLB variations, from the traditional Pork XLB to our jumbo-sized XLB that’s so big you need a straw to slurp up the comfy goodness.
4. Har Gao
Pronunciation - ha-gaow
Here is a crescent-shaped dumpling in oval shape served steamed in a bamboo basket. The Har Gao is made with a thin wheat and tapioca starch dough wrapper.
The traditional filling includes pork fat, shrimp, and bamboo shoots. The outer side of the wrapper is supposed to have 7 to 10 pleats. The pork fat melts when the dumpling is steamed, and the resulting bite is juicy and yummy.
5. Bao Zi
Bao Zi is the overall category of bun-shaped dumplings with thick dough wrapping with filling. The char siu bao has a barbecued pork filling.
The tangbaozi is a soup dumpling with pork trimmings that melt when cooked and form a broth. There are many other variations of this, including sweet and savory options.
You probably also know these pretty well too. These have a million variations too. They are steamed, boiled, and fried. They are usually made with square sheets of dough (wheat, egg, and water).
The filling is added in the center, and the wrapper is either pleated or crimped to seal the wonton. The traditional filling includes pork and shrimp.
7. Sheng Jian Bao
These are also soup dumplings like the Xiao Long Bao, but the dough is pretty thick as compared to the XLB. These also have pork and shrimp filling with pork trimmings that melt into a gelatin broth when cooked through.
These are also cooked in a skillet instead of a bamboo basket. Being cooked in a skillet means you get a crunchy dumpling bottom.
There you have it; these are the typical types of dumplings you will get at a Chinese restaurant in San Francisco. Why don’t you come over to a United Dumplings location? We’d be super happy to walk you through our menu items and help you select a dumpling or two!