Vegetarian Steamed Pork Buns (Bao)
Makes 16 buns
At home we eat almost exclusively meat free, so I’ve made this verision with shiitake mushrooms and tofu. Feel free to use cooked roast pork instead for a more authentic Char Siu Bao.
For the Dough:
1 packet dry yeast (1 packet contains 7 grams of dry yeast)
2 tablespoons lukewarm water
1 teaspoon sugar plus 1/4 cup sugar, separated
1 1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown rice flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup warm milk
2 tablespoons butter or margarine (room temperature)
For the Filling:
1 tablespoon gluten-free tamari
1 tablespoon ketchup
3 tablespoons gluten-free hoisin
2 tablespoons gluten-free oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon corn starch
1 pound shiitake mushroom caps, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 bunch scallions, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 inch ginger, minced
1/2 package (7 ounces) firm tofu, drained, blotted on paper towels, then diced into 1/4 inch pieces
1. Start by proofing the yeast: Place the yeast, 2 tablespoons of warm water, and a teaspoon of sugar in a small bowl. Let sit until the yeast doubles in size and gets a foamy appearance. In a separate bowl, combine the warm milk and warm water.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium sized bowl, whisk together the remaining sugar, cornstarch, tapioca starch, brown rice flour, and baking powder. Using a wooden spoon, mix in the butter and the proofed yeast mixture to the dry ingredients, then slowly add the warm milk mixture, a little at a time until you have a soft, pliable dough. You will know you have the right texture if, when you flatten a ball of the dough, it cracks slightly around the edges, but it doesn’t fall apart. (you may not need all of the liquid or you may need to add a bit more water, a little at a time).
3. Place the dough inside a large zip lock bag, then place the bag in a warm place for about an hour, or until the dough has nearly doubled in volume.
4. While the dough is rising, prepare the filling. In a small bowl combine the tamari, ketchup, hoisin, oyster sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and cornstarch in a small bowl. Set the sauce aside. In a large saute pan, heat the 1 tablespoon of canola or peanut oil over medium high heat, until it begins to shimmer and the pan is hot. Add the mushrooms and saute 5-6 minutes or until the mushrooms have released their juices and begin to brown. Add the scallions, ginger, and garlic and cook another 3-4 minutes, until the mixture is fragrant and the garlic begins to turn golden. Add the sauce mixture to the pan, and cook about 1 minute until everthing is combined and the sauce is hot and has thickened slightly. Add the tofu and remove the mixture from the heat. Set aside to cool.
5. When the dough has risen and the filling is cool, get ready to assemble the buns. Set up a metal steamer basket with a lid, or bamboo steamer over boiling water. Cut parchment or wax paper into 16 3-inch squares. Take the dough out of the plastic bag and divide into 16 even pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a ball, using cornstarch on your hands to prevent the dough from sticking. Take 1 ball of dough and flatten it in your palm to form a 6-inch circle. Place about 2 tablespoons of mushroom filling in the center of the circle, then cup your palm around the filling to bring the dough up the sides of the filling. Use the fingers on your opposite hand to pinch the dough together and twist and pinch the dough at the top to seal the filling into the bun. Place the bun onto a square of parchment paper. Repeat with 3 more buns then place the buns on the paper into the steamer for 8-10 minutes, or until the buns are firm and the bread is cooked through, light, and fluffy.
6. Repeat this process 3 more times with the remaining ingredients until you have 16 steamed bao. For best results, serve warm. (The buns can be reheated in the microwave or steamer for the best texture.)
- Approximate Nutritional Information: Per Serving (1 Bun)
Total Fat: 3 grams
Carbohydrates: 25 grams
Fiber: 1 grams
Protein: 3 grams