Chef's Style: Truffle and Pork Ziaolongbao at Din Tai Fung
When your friends hear that you’re going to Din Tai Fung at South Coast Plaza, they’ll urge you to order the pork xiaolongbao (soup dumplings). They’ll tell you this because it’s what they heard and now they’re passing along the advice. After all, the dish is the restaurant’s best-seller.
But you’d be wise to forget what you’ve heard, because the truffle and pork is exponentially better. The truffle draws out umami flavors, adding earthiness and nuttiness, and deepening the taste of the minced pork. The steaming of the dumpling is just enough to release the taste of the truffle without cooking it down so much that it’s indistinguishable. It’s supported in this starring role by the dumpling skin, the pork and the liquefied aspic broth. All the dumpling needs is a tiny corner dabbed into the black vinegar, ginger and soy dipping sauce, which you prepare at the table.
It might not be what your friends recommended – but it’s by far the best dish on the menu (and one of the best dishes in the county).
Din Tai Fung, 3333 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, 714.549.3388 :: DinTaiFungUSA.com
Din Tai Fung Dipping Sauce
• Black vinegar (available at Asian markets;
Din Tai Fung makes its own)
• Dark soy sauce (Din Tai Fung uses a
Ponlai soy sauce, made in Taiwan)
• Fresh ginger, peeled
• Chili oil, optional
Cut the ginger into 1/8-inch coins. Julienne the coins into matchsticks. Place a small amount of the fresh ginger in each dipping bowl. Add black vinegar and soy sauce to taste; the Din Tai Fung ratio is 3 parts black vinegar to 1 part soy sauce. Add chili oil for spice. Mix gently.
Steps to a truffle dumpling: A ball of skin dough is rolled flat, a mixture of minced pork, truffle and broth in gelatin form is set inside, a sliver-thin truffle is shaved on top and, finally, the top of the dumpling is drawn tight and twisted shut.