Soup dumplings, or xiao long bao, are made by combining ground pork with chilled gelatinized pork stock inside a dough wrapper. When steamed, the gelatin stock melts, so that the diner bites into a dumpling filled with hot soup.

I can substitute a number of fillings for the ground pork and seasonings fairly easily. However, I'm wondering if any of the various vegetarian gelatin substitutes will behave properly to make the gelatinized stock component; that is, will they set to jello hardness when chilled, yet re-liquify when steamed? If so, which one?

More links on veggie "gelatin":


I have successfully made it with agar agar and I serve it at my restaurant in Lucknow, India. I call it Soup Burst Momo (TM) It stays liquefied if consumed within 5 mins of steaming. After that it slowly starts to thicken. Carageenan will give you better results.

The only problem I've faced is that you have to steam it instantly after folding it, otherwise te pastry gets wet due to osmotic movement of water from gel to dough.

Although, it could possibly be addressed by using frozen gel and then against flash freezing the folded dumpling instantly.

  • That's fine; for classic pork soup dumplings, you need to steam them right away after folding as well. But ... if carageenan gives better results, why do you use agar agar? – FuzzyChef Oct 24 '19 at 17:14
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    Agar agar is more accessible and cheaper. Also it is easier to store and handle (carrageenan requires really low humidity to keep shelf life and not to cake into a stone) – Juliana Karasawa Souza Oct 24 '19 at 19:45
  • So, to sum up, Carageenan give a better texture and lasts longer out of the steamer, but Agar Agar is easier to handle and work with? – FuzzyChef Oct 25 '19 at 18:07
  • Darn, too bad Lucknow is so far from Delhi; I'd love to visit your restaurant when I go there next year. :-( – FuzzyChef Oct 25 '19 at 18:09
  • so, i finally made these, and the agar-agar gelled stock didn't melt in the dumplings; it was like it needed to be hotter than 97C to melt. Any tips? – FuzzyChef Dec 30 '19 at 6:08

My initial recommendation will be for you to use carrageenan or xantam gum as a gelling agent

  • Agar gel reverses to liquid in high temperatures so even when the soup is hot, if it's not scalding hot it will still be solid or partially solid
  • Pectin depends on whether or not it is HM / LM and if you're buying it off the shelf from a common market there is no way of you to know which one you're buying. Both of them also have a similar issue to agar.
  • Kuzu gel is not temperature sensitive
  • I thought that pectin set at high temps and didn't re-liquify. No? – FuzzyChef Oct 24 '19 at 17:18
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    Depends on whether is LM / HM but it does have the problem of if it re-liquefies, it re-liquefies at dangerously high temperatures. Since OP apparently has no access to pectin with known grades and properties, it is better to not even list it as an option – Juliana Karasawa Souza Oct 24 '19 at 19:43
  • Well, you can order just about anything online these days. But what's the advantage of pectin? – FuzzyChef Oct 25 '19 at 1:38
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    Compared to Carrageenan and Xantam Gum for this application, none, this is why I’m not recommending it – Juliana Karasawa Souza Oct 25 '19 at 9:13
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    Thanks! I'm picking the other answer because of the direct experience, but yours was also really helpful. – FuzzyChef Oct 25 '19 at 18:21

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