I love steamed Chinese buns. I cannot get enough of them. Which is a good thing, as making the buns look pretty, takes a bit of practice. So we eat a lot of buns in my house lately 😉
The actual making of the steamed buns is really easy. The dough is easy to make, and easy to work with. And even though with the first few attempts the aesthetic look is not perfect, the taste is as good as it will always be.
So don’t worry too much about the look of these baozi. Just enjoy them as they are! And every time you make them they will become prettier, until one day you will create the perfect looking Baozi.
You can really be as creative as you would like to be with the filling. I personally like it with Chinese style flavours, like;
- Chinese cabbage
- soybean curd
- dried mushrooms
- mung bean sprouts
- herbs, like coriander
- onion or shallots
- spinach or kale
- Chinese vinegar
But you can experiment with lots of other interesting flavours. These buns work really well with sweet flavours, like; Sweet red bean paste or sweet roasted carrot with agave.
I think it is really nice to just experiment with whatever ingredients comes to mind. Dare to mix cultures!
It is important to let the dough prove if you like to have fluffy soft buns. The proving time is not calculated in the recipe, as this really depends on which flour, and yeast you use, and the temperature where it rests.
If you can easily find a strong white flour where you live, then substitute half of the flour with the strong flour, as this will make the buns even softer.
The folding of the bun does take a bit of practice, and even though I make a lot of buns, my folding technique still lacks. You should be able to pleat the dough with one hand while the bun with filling rests in the other hand, but I haven’t got to this stage yet and i still use all my 10 fingers to fold it.
Like I said before, For now I don’t mind. As they are still delicious!
I steam my buns in a bamboo basket which works well.
Plain Baozi, Mantou
Mantou is a plain baozi without filling. You see these Mantou everywhere in China, they are enjoyed in the mornings, as snacks, or companied with Chinese dishes.
You can use the same dough recipe for the Mantou. But I slightly change the proving. I let the dough rest just for 5 or 10 minutes. Than I form the Mantou in the shape desired, which can be a nice round ball, which is the most common shape. A ‘pillow’ shape, or any creative shapes. After the shaping I rest the mantou on a small baking paper and let them prove for approx. 20 – 25 minutes. Again this depends on temperature, humidity, and ingredients. You will know if your dough has proved enough, carefully lift it up and it should feel a lot lighter, less dense. For the steaming follow the same procedure. The bigger your mantou the longer they will need to steam. But an average timing to go by is 12-14 minutes.
Or sweet red bean paste Baozi
Red bean paste (azuki bean paste) is a commonly used paste to use in sweet baozi.
The paste is prepared by boiling the beans, then mashing or grinding them. At this stage, the paste can be sweetened or left as it is. The colour of the paste is usually dark red, which comes from the husk of the beans.
This Baozi is part of my new series; ‘Travels of taste‘. We use our taste buds to travel the world and discover the use of our senses and imaginations to meet other cultures through food. So today we find ourselves in China. If you are ready to imagine yourself travelling through China whilst discovering all its flavours. Check out my full China ‘travels of taste’ post; >>> China, It’s all about FOOD!
If you do get into the making of your own Baozi, please add @haricoco1 to your instagram post or comment below. I would love to hear about your experiences, and your choice of fillings.