Xiaolongbao (simplified Chinese: 小笼包; traditional Chinese: 小籠包; pinyin: xiǎolóngbāo) is a type of steamed bun or baozi from the Jiangnan region of China, especially Shanghai and Wuxi. It is traditionally steamed in small bamboo baskets, hence the name (xiaolong is literally small steaming basket). Xiaolongbao are often referred to as soup dumplings or simply dumplings in English.
Xiaolongbao are known as siohlon-meudoe /siɔ33lǫ̃44-mø22dɤ⁺44/ in Shanghainese (simplified Chinese: 小笼馒头; traditional Chinese: 小籠饅頭; pinyin: xiǎolóng mántóu). Mantou describes both filled and unfilled buns in northern China, but only describes unfilled buns in southern China.
The characters that make up “xiaolongbao” translate literally to “small”, “steaming basket” and “steamed buns (baozi)”, and the whole term may be literally translated as “little-basket buns”. The appearance of xiaolongbao and jiaozi (dumpling) has meant that the xiaolongbao is sometimes classified as a dumpling outside of China. It is, however, distinct from both steamed and boiled jiaozi in texture and method of production, and is never regarded as a jiaozi (which is more usually translated as dumpling) inside China. As is traditional for buns of various sizes in the Jiangnan region, xiaolongbao are pinched at the top prior to steaming, so the skin has a circular cascade of ripples around the crown, whereas jiaozi are usually made from a round piece of dough folded in half, and pinched along the semicircle. Instead, xiaolongbao is usually regarded as belonging to a whole family of various steamed buns of various sizes sometimes collectively known as tang bao, literally “soup bun”