Jun 13, 2012

Steamed Vegetable Baozi

                    When we were in USA, I had gone with my cute nephew to four day Los Angeles tour. This tour was managed by Chinese people. So the crowd was Chinese, with just two of us Indians. We were served Chinese breakfast in the hotels were we stayed. One dish that was common for breakfast was snow white buns kept fresh in large bamboo steamers. Everyone used to have it, we were apprehensive and didn’t know how to eat it, so we didn’t try it. Later I realized they were Mantou- Chinese steamed buns.
             There was a nice Chinese shop near our home from where we got seafood. This place had Chinese bakery attached to it. There was a large collection of Chinese buns, Some were baked ans some were steamed. We tried lots of these buns, lotus paste filled, red bean filled, custard filled, roast chicken,,,,, These filled steamed buns are called bao or Baozi..
                 According to China Daily, Zhuge Liang (181-234), a military strategist from the Three Kingdoms period (220-280), is credited with inventing the baozi. He and his troops were on an expedition to south China when his army caught a plague. Zhuge made a bun shaped like a human head from flour, pork and beef. The bun, called mantou (flour head) was offered as a sacrifice to the gods and was later given to the soldiers to cure their illness.
             The name stuck in parts of southern China. In Shanghai, steamed bread, either with or without filling, is still called mantou. In northern China, though, people call the bun baozi, as bao means wrapping.
              A baozi or bao is a steamed filled bun which is typically eaten for breakfast in China.. Baozi is one of the staples of Chinese cuisine served by street vendors. The unfilled version is called Mantou and filled version is called Baozi. Most baozi in China is Cha Siu Bao, roast pork buns.. You can fill the buns with any stuffing you can imagine, be it savoury or sweet,,, its going to taste great.
            I have made a vegetarian filling for my Baozi with tofu and vegetables. Tofu or soya bean curd is commonly used in Chinese cuisine. Tofu can be found in many supermarkets named as soya paneer in India. Tofu has a low calorie count, relatively large amounts of protein and iron and little fat.

Dough :
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
Filling :
  • 2 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp chopped ginger
  • 1 chopped large white onion
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 6-7 button mushrooms
  • 1 small red capsicum
  • 100 gm tofu
  • 1 tbsp chilli sauce
  • 1 tbsp soya sauce
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • salt (to taste)
  • Place the yeast in a bowl and pour the warm water over it. Stir in the sugar to dissolve. Let stand for 15 minutes. Skip this step if your yeast does not need proofing and add the yeast directly to the flour.
  • Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Remember not to allow concentrated salt to come into contact with the yeast, as it will kill it. Mix the salt with the flour, then add the yeast.
  •  Add the yeast and water mixture and begin stirring immediately. Keep stirring until you have a dough that holds together and doesn't stick to the sides of the bowl. Adjust the amount of water, adding more or less as is needed.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until it is smooth and elastic . Add more flour or water if needed.
  • Cover and let rest for 1 1/2 hours. Punch the dough down again, and let it rest for 1 - 1 1/2 more hours, until it's size has doubled.
  • In a large skillet heat oil over high heat. Cook ginger and garlic for 2 minutes, lower heat to medium.
  • Add onions, grated carrots and mushrooms, cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add chopped tofu and stir.
  • Season with soy sauce, hoisin sauce, chilli sauce and transfer to a bowl, allow to cool.

To Assemble Bao:
  • Form a 10 equal small balls of dough.
  • Press the ball out into a round circle.
  • Place 1 tablespoon of filling into the center of the dough.
  • Fold the dough over and create a seal by pinching the dough around the filling.
  • Place the bun onto a square parchment paper.
  • Place buns in the bamboo steamer Try to position so they do not touch one another. and cover tightly. It will almost certainly require several batches to steam all the buns, unless you have lots of steamers, or a very big one
  • Steam buns over gently boiling water for 20 minutes.
  • After this time, remove the pan and steamer from heat, but don't remove the steamer from the pan, or lift the lid of the steamer. By allowing the steam to subside gradually like this, you prevent the dough from collapsing on contact with the cold air.
  • After a few minutes, carefully lift the lid and remove the bun gently from the steamer.
  • When cool enough to handle, remove parchment paper from bottom of buns.
  • Serve warm with sweet chilly sauce. If you have leftovers, you can refrigerate them and while serving make them warm in microwave for 30 secs.
     Moist, fluffy, steamy goodness!

Check this link for knowing how to make bao. its a video on YouTube in Chinese, I didn't understand any instructions but this short and simple video demonstrates how to pinch and fold the dough to make nice bao..

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