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Eric Wolfinger/Phaidon

Chef Corey Lee, the visionary owner and chef behind the three Michelin starred Benu, is now author to the highly anticipated cookbook of the restaurant’s very same name thanks to a beautiful collaboration with publisher Phaidon. Here we have an exclusive excerpt from the book, “Benu” by Corey Lee ($59.95, Phaidon 2015), along with the step by step how-to for chef Corey’s Lobster Coral Xiao Long Bao.

I suppose, like all foods, there is no perfect xiao long bao.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the dish - xiao long bao are also known as Shanghai dumplings or soup dumplings that are steamed and typically filled with a mixture of pork and jellified stock. In his cookbook, Benu, chef Corey Lee dives into a wonderful anecdote of his long journey with xiao long bao – a journey he would soon come to realize would “have no real end” (Corey Lee/Phaidon).

After visiting Din Tai Fung outposts in seven different countries and testing hundreds of combinations and variations of the dough for nearly two years in his kitchen, chef Corey now unveils Benu’s final recipe…for the time being, that is. “I’m sure I’ll change it again someday,” he admits (Corey Lee/Phaidon).

Eric Wolfinger/Phaidon

From chef Corey Lee’s Benu cookbook. © Eric Wolfinger/Phaidon.

And now, a quick excerpt by Corey Lee from the book:

“The challenge of making this type of dumpling relates to the skin, which should be like a delicate gossamer veil, sheer enough to reveal its contents. When picked up, the bottom of the dumpling should drop, spurring simultaneous wonder at how such a small piece of thin dough can hold so much hot liquid yet withstand such pull of gravity. And when eaten, the texture of the skin should give way to the filling with just enough presence to remind you that you’re eating a dumpling…I suppose, like all foods, there is no perfect xiao long bao. My search, I realized, would have no real end. It’s just about preference. I guess that’s what chefs do—pursue standards that exist only in our heads and devote our lives to finer points that few people notice. But I’d like to believe that people do notice in the end. Perhaps not each step, but everything we work to achieve can collectively elevate food to something greater than just the sum of its parts. I really hope that’s true, because it’s that belief that keeps us going” (Excerpt from Corey Lee’s Benu ($59.95), published by Phaidon).

The Wrapper

Ingredients
1g instant yeast
250g water
0.3g salt
225g all-purpose (plain) flour
220g cake (superfine plain) flour
2g potassium carbonate and sodium bi-carbonate solution
Instructions
First make a starter dough.
Whisk the yeast into 50g of the water until completely dissolved.
Add the salt, 25g of the all-purpose (plain) flour and 50g of the cake (superfine plain) flour.
Place in a mixer and knead with a dough hook for approximately 4 minutes, until a dough forms.
Knead with your hands until smooth.
Place in a bowl, cover, and leave in a warm spot to rise until doubled in size – approximately 2 hours.
When starter dough is ready, place the remaining flours in a mixer.
Add 5g of the risen dough and the potassium solution and mix with a dough hook until evenly incorporated – approximately 5 minutes.
Feed the dough through an electric sheeter about 20 times, until smooth and elastic.
Wrap in plastic wrap (cling film) and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
Cut the dough sheets into 4.5g pieces and form into thin, circular wrappers using an electric sheeter or a small rolling pin.

Lobster Coral Filling

Ingredients
360g shellfish stock consommé
15g soy essence
21g gelatin, bloomed
120g lobster meat
10g lobster coral, passed through a sieve
2g salt
80g clarified butter, whisked with nitrogen until shattered like coffee grounds
16g scallion (spring onion), finely chopped
16g fresh ginger, finely chopped
Instructions
Bring the consommé to a boil.
Whisk in the soy essence and gelatin.
Allow to cool in the refrigerator until set.
Chop finely.
Purée the lobster meat with the coral and salt until smooth.
Combine with the clarified butter, scallion (spring onion), and ginger.
Add 380g of the chopped gel and mix until evenly incorporated.
Work quickly to prevent the gel and butter from melting.
Divide the mixture into pieces weighing 15.6-15.9g and roll them into balls.

Vinegar Sauce

Ingredients
20g water
20g Banyuls vinegar
20g black rice vinegar
Instructions
Combine all ingredients and mix well.

 

Serving:

Place a ball of lobster filling in the center of each wrapper. Gather the dough around the filling by pinching the edges together in 18-20 folds. Steam the dumplings in a bamboo steamer for 5 minutes. Serve with the vinegar sauce.

Eric Wolfinger

Lobster coral xiao long bao by chef Corey Lee of Benu from cookbook “Benu”. © Eric Wolfinger/Phaidon.

Eric Wolfinger

Finished lobster coral xiao long bao by chef Corey Lee of Benu from cookbook “Benu”. © Eric Wolfinger/Phaidon.

Excerpt, recipe, and photos pulled from “Benu” ($59.95) by chef Corey Lee, published by Phaidon. Purchase the cookbook here!

Editor

A devoted aesthete forever on a journey to appreciate and share beauty in everything and everyone. I choose fine food over the finer things.

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