Ever since receiving my bamboo steamer basket, I've been dreaming of baozi.. those fluffy savory steamed buns you can find at dim sum, usually filled with some meat based stuffing. My fondest memory of baozi at the family owned Cambodian restaurant I used to go to when living in Picardie, the Angkor. There they served one big one as an appetizer in an individual bamboo basket with some home made spicy sauce for dipping. I had absolutely no idea how that strange piece of pleasure was made, and at that time, I didn't really care.. I had such easy access to it that it never even crossed my mind to make it myself.
Since moving to Lyon, I haven't found a "Vietnamese" or "Chinese" restaurant worth my time. Don't get me wrong.. I'm sure they exist, but I've had so many disappointments that I'd rather eat homemade Chinese than some strange mass produced attempt to feed the crowds.
While researching, I stumbled upon Yi's video which made it look easy.
Yeast doesn't scare me.. but I wanted to try steamed leavened goodies.. plus, I like doing things with my little fingers.
Yield 12 buns
250g white flour
3/4 tsp yeast (I used fresh)
25 mL warm water
115 mL warm milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch baking soda
1 Tbsp oil
200g ground beef (or chicken or turkey)
1/2 kohlrabi, grated (or 1 cup shredded cabbage)
1 handful kale, julienned
1 carrot, peeled and grated
2 handfuls black wood ear mushrooms, sliced thinly
1 handful chopped cilantro
1 inch piece ginger, grated
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp rice wine (I used rice vinegar)
1 tsp five spice
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp canola oil
1. Make the dough. Stir the warm water, milk, sugar, half the Tbsp of oil, and yeast together and let sit for a few minutes. If using powdered yeast, it should foam. I used fresh and it seems to fizz but not foam. It actually seems like I can hear all the woken yeast life partying underwater. I know I'm a little strange.
2. Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Pour in the liquid mixture and knead. Do this for 15 minutes, then form a soft, but non sticky ball. Use the other half Tbsp of oil to coat the ball. Cover and let sit in a warm place.. like the oven (turned off please). Leave it alone for minimum 2 hours. It should double in size.
3. While that is happening, make the stuffing. I was planning on using chicken, but I had some ground beef ready to go and it worked out just perfectly. In a large bowl, mix everything together with your hands until well incorporated. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
4. When the dough has risen, knead it back into a ball, then separate it into 12 equal pieces.
5. Roll each piece out into a 4 inch diameter disc.
Leave it a bit thicker in the center and thinner on the edges. Get all the pieces ready and be sure to flour them to prevent them from sticking to each other.
6. Take about 1 1/2 Tbsp stuffing and place into the center of one dough piece. Then the technique is to make little folds starting on one side
and continuing all around the stuffing until the end is reached.
This is a technique I'm guessing becomes more natural the more you do it. I felt like I was doing it wrong, but the end result came out just wonderfully.
7. Place the bamboo steamer in a wide pan with simmering water. Place a few baozi in there making sure to have a piece of parchment paper under each one. This will prevent the baozi from sticking to the bamboo.
You are ready to serve.
I think I will be making these more often now that the bamboo steamer has no more secrets from me! I will try different fillings and different dipping sauces as well as different sizes. I had 2 of these with 2 steamed bok choy halves for dinner and it was enough to fill me. If I made them a little smaller they would be perfect as hors d'oeuvres for my next happy hour party.
I just can't get over how fluffy these come out after steaming. The texture was exactly what I was expecting, and while they may not be as perfect as chez Angkor, they are pretty darn close!