BENU in San Francisco

corey lee lobster baoAn evening spent at BENU in San Francisco is an intimate affair filled with exacting surprises from one of America’s culinary masters — COREY LEE. Yes, I went there — I don’t need Michelin or S.Pellegrino’s World’s Best to tell me that what Corey is doing at BENU is genius. So, when I finally got a chance to read Corey’s new cookbook, I was fascinated to learn about techniques and ingredients he’s used to create dishes that are fused with a sense of history and forward-thinking.

Admittedly, Corey’s cookbook is a bit intimidating for the home cook, he uses lots of unfamiliar ingredients and recipes are written using grams, but there’s one recipe worthy of our foodie efforts — LOBSTER CORAL XIAO LONG BAO.


Americans know Xiao Long Bao as Chinese “soup dumplings” that are filled with a pork-flavored broth, but Corey’s version is made with a shellfish stock and encased in his delicate wrapper.


1g instant yeast
250g water
0.3g salt
225g all-purpose flour
220g cake flour
2g potassium carbonate and sodium bi-carbonate solution

First make a starter dough.
Whisk the yeast into 50g of the water until completely dissolved.
Add the salt, 25g of the all-purpose flour and 50g of the cake flour.
Place in a mixer and knead with a dough hook for approximately 4 minutes, until a dough forms. Knead with your hands until smooth.
Place in a bowl, cover, and leave in a warm spot to rise until doubled in size – approximately 2 hours.
When starter dough is ready, place the remaining flours in a mixer.
Add 5g of the risen dough and the potassium solution and mix with a dough hook until evenly incorporated – approximately 5 minutes.
Feed the dough through a pasta machine about 20 times, until smooth and elastic.
Wrap in plastic wrap and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
Cut the dough sheets into 4.5g pieces and form into thin, circular wrappers using the pasta machine or a small rolling pin.


360g shellfish stock consommé
15g soy essence (sauce)
21g gelatin, bloomed
120g lobster meat
10g lobster coral (roe), passed through a sieve
2g salt
80g clarified butter, whisked with nitrogen until shattered like coffee grounds
16g scallion, finely chopped
16g fresh ginger, finely chopped

Bring the consommé to a boil. Whisk in the soy sauce and gelatin.
Allow to cool in the refrigerator until set. Chop finely.
Purée the lobster meat with the coral and salt until smooth.
Combine with the clarified butter, scallion, and ginger.
Add 380g of the chopped gel and mix until evenly incorporated.
Work quickly to prevent the gel and butter from melting.
Divide the mixture into pieces weighing 15.6g and roll them into balls.


20g water
20g Banyuls vinegar
20g black rice vinegar

Combine all ingredients and mix well.


Place a ball of lobster filling in the center of each wrapper. Gather the dough around the filling by pinching the edges together in 18-20 folds. Steam the dumplings in a bamboo steamer for 5 minutes. Serve with the vinegar sauce.

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