Christmas in my family means one thing — our annual Dumplings of the World Party. All of our friends come over and spend the evening sitting at little tables around our house shaping potstickers, pierogies, empanadas… the offerings change from year to year, but there are a few favorites that would never be left out — including everyone’s favorite, pillow-y soft barbecue chicken buns.
A kosher answer to the dim sum star, cha siu bao, from the Guangdong region of China, these sweet steamed rolls that house juicy, tender chicken in the center, have been my kryptonite since the day I could chew.
While the meat and dough are a bit time consuming to make, shaping them is less stressful than shaping a soup dumpling, which I showed you how to make last year (check out the video here). The only thing you have to worry about with these petite buns is sealing the dough well enough so that chicken doesn’t get all over your steamer.
As a person of Chinese and Jewish heritage, I have inherited two wonderful, though often divergent culinary traditions. My favorite moment in our kitchen is when the two traditions converge on Christmas Eve at our annual Dumplings of the World Festival. We gather with family friends to make steamed barbecue chicken buns, potstickers, samosas, empanadas and pierogi and whatever new recipes we decide to throw in the mix.
The potstickers, which are a staple of the festival, are made from an old family recipe from China. Last year, we added a little twist to these dumplings by morphing them into our take on Shanghai xiaolongbao, which are delicate steamed dumplings that are filled with meat and soup. To our potstickers, a soup filling component was added, and then the shape changed from a crescent into a symmetrical little pouch. They were a tasty, exciting, and slightly messy success!