As anyone who talks to me about xiao long bao for more than five minutes knows, my favorite soup dumplings in downtown Flushing can be had at Shanghai specialist Diverse Dim Sum in the New York Food Court. The skin is so thin as to be translucent, and the balance of savory pork and crab broth is perfect, making the little packages a staple on my Flushing Chinatown food tours.
Last week I had a guest with a gluten allergy. I knew the rest of her party would enjoy the soup dumplings, but also wanted to give the gluten-free guest a taste of Shanghai. And that’s where the trio of multihued spheres—purple, green, and yellow—come in. I first noticed them around Easter time and suspected they were a seasonal specialty. Normally I don’t chance trying new things on a food tour, but after learning they were made from rice and various sweet-savory fillings I made an exception.
At $16 for a set of six, these Shanghai mochi weren’t cheap, but they were well worth it. Piping hot, each squishy sweet sphere held a delicious surprise. Within the yellow orb was a mixture of sweet red bean with a touch of black sesame, while the green was packed with pork floss. My favorite was the purple, which oozed forth with xian dan huang, a delightful salted egg yolk custard.
In Shanghai, and elsewhere in China, these glossy spheres called qing tuan, are made for Qingming Jie (aka Tomb Sweeping Festival). Traditionally they’re green and filled with red bean, but in recent years other fillings have come into vogue. I’m just glad I didn’t have travel all the way to Shanghai experience this delightful specialty. Do note that if you want to savor qing tuan in Flushing, Diverse Dim Sum will only be making them for about another week.
Diverse Dim Sum, New York Food Court, No. 12, 133-35 Roosevelt Ave., Flushing, 347-925-5716