Sheng Jian Bao, Shanghai-style buns that are far less renowned than xiao long bao, each contain a ground pork ball and a gelatinized stock that turns to steaming soup when cooking. These pan-fried wonders are typically studded with sesame seeds, with crispy bottoms, supple tops, and definitely have the potential to scald your tongue. David Chang generated renewed interest in sheng jian bao in his Lucky Peach story. I was already familiar with his favorite L.A. version, Kang Kang Food Court, and have since ordered sheng jian bao whenever possible, some better than Kang Kang, others less dazzling.
Shanghainese restaurants typically have sheng jian bao on the menu, listed under translations like “pan-fried pork buns.” It’s not all that often that you’ll find sheng jian bao on a dim sum menu, but China Red, an Arcadia restaurant with a tantalizing checklist, sells them in trios. I’ve found juicier versions around L.A., but the dough was soft, the bases crispy, the pork and soup savory instead of sweet. China Red’s sheng jian bao feature white sesame at the base, black sesame up top, and dip beautifully in a blend of soy sauce and vinegar.
Dose of Vitamin P spotlights my favorite pork dish from the previous week.