I love bao, really any type of steamed bun, but the bbq pork type you get at dim sum are my absolute favourite.
I grew up in Vancouver where Asian food is cheap and readily available, but life has led me to places where that is no longer the case. So if I can’t get it, let’s try to make it.
I grabbed the recipe from Tasting Table as I just wanted what looked like a basic dough recipe, and would wing the filling. I didn’t want to have to get any other ingredients and wanted to use what I had!
To make the dough (about 10 bao):
- ⅔ cup warm water
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1¼ cups bread flour, plus more for if needed
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
1. In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix together the water, yeast and sugar. Let this sit until the yeast starts to bloom, 4 to 6 minutes. Mix in the oil and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, sift the bread flour, salt and baking soda together. Add the yeast mixture to the dry ingredients and stir using a rubber spatula. If the dough looks sticky, add 1 additional tablespoon of flour at a time until it is less sticky.
3. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth. Cover the dough and let the dough rest until it has doubled in size, 1½ to 2 hours. Punch the dough down to flatten it.
4. Portion the dough into balls that are 2 inches in diameter and let rest for 5 minutes. Flatten each ball into a disk 3 inches in diameter.
5. Fill the buns with your filling of choice and wrap by gathering the edge and twisting slightly. Cover with a damp kitchen towel to keep the bao from drying out.
6. Place the buns in a steam basket lined with parchment paper and steam until the buns have expanded, 7 to 9 minutes. Serve.
For my filling I had some leftover pork that I had added some salt, pepper, soy sauce, ginger, gochujang, and hoisin. I just wanted something tangy/spicy and it seemed to work out pretty well.
Even after adding additional flour this dough was still pretty sticky, in the future I’d add at least 1/2 cup more flour to the original recipe, but this was a test run so we did what we could!
Since my dough was so sticky and pliable, I was actually able to add a lot more filling into my bao than recommended. The only issue is that I could not make the pleats and fold the bao as nicely as I would have liked.
I placed each bao onto a small square of parchment paper to make things a little easier and not have to fiddle with trying to cut out a circle for the steamer basket. I also took a chopstick dipped in flour and poked a small hole in the top of each bao to allow steam to escape.
I had to steam these for the 9 minutes recommended on the recipe, but they turned out really well! They’re not perfect but the dough tastes right. Next time will be way better but I’m still happy with the end result.