I've been greatly inspired watching ChefSteps on youtube. They have a lot of amazing recipes on their channel. I decided to try making steam baos at home. They used David Chang's Momofuku's pork bun recipe, a modern take on the traditional Chinese stuffed steam buns. I decided to follow a more basic recipe for the steam bao. It's a very versatile recipe that can be used for savoury or sweet fillings. And basic is where I wanted to start from.
- 1 1/4 cup warm water (100°–110°F or 38°– 43°C)
- 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast powder
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 3 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
In a mixing bowl, dissolve sugar in warm water and add yeast. Allow the mixture to froth for about 10 minutes and then add in the oil. The yeast mixture should roughly double in volume. Next, add in flour, baking powder and salt to the wet ingredients and mix until the dough becomes a shaggy dough. You may hand knead the dough or use a stand mixer. I used a Kitchen Aid stand mixer to help with the kneading process. With the dough hook on medium-high speed, knead until the shaggy dough no longer sticks to the side of the bowl and is in one piece on the dough hook. I also like to hand knead the dough a few times afterwards to shape it into a ball. Place the dough in a lightly oiled mixing bowl and oil the surface of the dough. Cover with saran wrap and place it in a warm, dry spot until dough doubles in size (about 1 hour).
Cut the dough in half and keep the other half of the dough in the mixing bowl covered in saran wrap so the dough does not dry out. Divide the dough into equal pieces (30-35g) and roll them into small ball shapes. Roll the ball into a rough oval shape. Brush the top with some canola oil and fold over one side. Place it on a parchment paper and set it aside covered with a towel. Continue the process until all the dough is used up.
In a double boiler or wok, fill with about 2" of water. Place the buns on the steamer and let it rest for about 10 minutes. Then turn on the heat to high to boil the water. Once steam is visibly coming up, reduce to medium-high heat and let the buns steam for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it rest for about a minute before opening the steamer. Keep the buns in the steamer with low heat with a gentle mist to keep buns moist and warm.
Stuff these soft and fluffy steamed bao with anything you like! Try the traditional pork belly or even peking duck with hoisin sauce, cucumber and scallions. I've made this recipe into a plain mantou and they were a great quick breakfast filler. In these photos, I've stuffed them with pan-fried chicken, pickled cucumber and cilantro with a lime, sriracha hoisin sauce.
Since making these buns, I am testing out other yeast-dough recipes. Feel free to share some of your favourite recipes with me to try!