Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Bao Buns in a Steamer

When our kitchen of the month, Karen of Karen's Kitchen Stories, let us know that in October we would be making Bao Buns, which are fairly plain, yeasted, steamed buns, I was a little apprehensive. I've never made steamed buns before and I also needed to figure out a filling for them. I was also excited for the exact same reasons. I love a good challenge.

My first challenge was getting a steamer. Finally found one at our local hardware store. Then I had to figure out how much water to put in the wok so that there would be enough steam for 12 minutes, the time it takes to steam these little breads. I ended up adding more water when there were five minutes left because the steam evaporated more quickly than I expected.

Turns out that these cute little buns are pretty easy to make, other than the steam/water level challenge and the fact that they resist rolling out a bit. Figuring out the filling was actually more difficult, but after some searching online I concocted a sauce that seemed right without using hoisin sauce. Most of the barbeque pork recipes I saw called for hoisin sauce but I wanted to be able to control the heat level. My solution was to use teriyaki sauce and then added a tiny bit of Sriracha sauce for the heat. The sauce also used garlic, ginger, ketchup, rice vinegar, brown sugar, and dark soy sauce, so it had some complex flavors. You got a little bit of heat, some sweet, sour and umami flavors.

The buns themselves have very little flavor and are a great vehicle for an assertive filling. We had some pork chops that were already grilled, so I thinly sliced one of them for the filling. I also made a fine julienne of pickled ginger and of green onion to add to the filling. Cilantro was also available but I forgot to add it until I was eating the last one. It was a good addition, so next time it will go in first!

These end up being sort of like sliders. Very tasty. I served them with a chopped salad with Asian flavors, plus some brown rice. I only made half the recipe since Sweetie is still trying to eat less. He has lost 25 pounds! If I avoid baking and cook lots of fruits and veggies he is likely to continue to lose...and so am I (although not nearly as much and I'm not being as vigilant about what I eat).

Thank you Karen for choosing this recipe. Will be making these again. Happy World Bread Day!

You, dear reader, can be a Bread Baking Babes Buddy by making the recipe, taking a photo or two, emailing Karen with your bread baking experience for this recipe + the photo, and she will send you a Buddy Badge and include you in the Round-Up. Deadline is October 29th.

Be sure to check out the other Bread Baking Babes to see what their Bao Buns look like. Besides my self and our Kitchen of the Month, Karen, we have:

Aparna - My Diverse Kitchen
Cathy - Bread Experience
Elizabeth - Blog from Our Kitchen
Judy - Judy's Gross Eats
Karen - Bake My Day
Kelly - A Messy Kitchen
Tanna - My Kitchen in Half Cups

Bao Buns
by Karen of Karen's Kitchen Stories

·                     2 cups (250 grams) all purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
·                     1/2 teaspoon baking powder
·                     1/3 cup (70 grams)  sugar
·                     4 grams instant or active dry yeast
·                     1/2 cup (120 grams) water, about 100 degrees
·                     1 teaspoon neutral oil

1.            Whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the water, and mix with the dough hook on medium for about 30 seconds. Add the oil, and knead on low for 5 to 7 minutes, until smooth. The dough should not stick to the sides of the bowl. This dough can also be kneaded by hand. 
2.            Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled (30 minutes to 2 hours). 
3.            Cut parchment paper into 10 four inch squares. You could also use lettuce leaves. (the purpose is to keep the buns from sticking to the steamer). 
4.            Deflate the dough and divide it into 10 equal pieces (about 50 grams each). Give each piece a quick knead. 
5.            On a floured surface roll the dough out into a 3 inch by 6 inch rectangle with rounded edges. Fold the dough in half lengthwise, and place on a parchment square. Cover lightly with oiled plastic wrap or a damp towel, and repeat with the rest of the dough pieces. Let proof for 30 to 45 minutes, until slightly puffy. 
6.            Bring a pot or wok of water to a steady boil (just slightly more than simmering) and fit your pan or wok with a steamer, bamboo basket, or steaming rack just above the water. Place the baos in the steamer, cover, and steam for 12 minutes. Cool slightly, fill with a filling of your choice, and eat. 
7.            You can refrigerate or freeze (I prefer freezing) leftovers. You can either thaw and re steam for 3 minutes, or wrap one in a damp paper towel and microwave for 20 to 30 seconds. 

BBQ Pork Filling
By Elle of Feeding My Enthusiasms
Makes enough for a half recipe (6 buns) of the bao buns above

1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon (or more, to taste) Sriracha sauce
1 pork chop, cooked, thinly sliced
1 green onion, julienned
a few slices pickled ginger, julienned
cilantro leaves, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 1 minute. Add one thinly sliced cooked pork chop and heat through. Garnish filled buns with thinly sliced green onion, pickled ginger, and cilantro leaves.


  1. Elle! I love bao buns, but only made them myself once or twice. Yours looks great, they are good with duck too.

  2. Those look SO delicious, I love how your little packets turned out!

  3. Thank you for baking along! These sound delicious with your filling!

  4. I love the sauce you made for the filling! And they look so pretty....

  5. First of all, GO SWEETIE! He's truly working so hard to lose so much so quickly! (Also: MEN. Why is it so much easier, waaaa!)

    Second, those look AMAZING, and your salad does, too. I obviously need to branch out into more unique styles of cooking! I have a new steamer (that apparently lets you steam eggs; I didn't know that was A Thing) and MUST try this!

  6. Oh look how beautiful! And your filling looks and sounds fabulous. (I don't think that Hoisin sauce usually has very much heat in it. Certainly, the one we buy - we're too lazy to make it - doesn't. But now that I see the final ingredient in it, I'm thinking we SHOULD make it ourselves: "Sugar, water, fermented soybean paste (water, salt, soybeans, wheat flour), salt, sweet potato powder, caramel color, modified corn starch, sesame paste, dehydrated garlic, spices, salted chili peppers (chili peppers, salt), acetic acid, red 40.")

    I love that you went out especially to get a steamer to make these!

  7. Emily, I love duck...will have to try them with that, it sounds so good.
    Kelly, who knew that steaming would make cute little packets like this?
    Karen, So glad you chose this recipe. Always good to try a new technique.
    Katie, Thanks! I'm a heat (spicy) wimp, so it seemed like the best way to go.
    Tanita, Men DO lose weight faster, but Sweetie has really been super careful with what he puts into his mouth, so his results are fast and should last, too.
    Hope you try this recipe in your new steamer. Will have to try steamed eggs. :)
    Elizabeth, it was pretty easy to make the sauce and it was really tasty. If you like it spicier, you can add more hot sauce, but you'll get fewer weird ingredients (like red 40) making your own.

  8. They've turned out perfect. Leave the meat out and the filling is something I would love. :)