It’s graduation week!! And I am officially a fresh grad of the University of Toronto with an Honours Bachelor of Science degree! *woot woot!* Even though a bachelors degree seems like the new high school diploma in this day and age, I am still very grateful that I have passed this milestone, and look forward to the convocations to come from my graduate studies!
In celebration of this week, I want to dedicate this post to my parents and granny who have worked so tirelessly these 20 something years fussing and worrying about me. Thanks Mom, Dad, Granny! *Waves frantically*
For this post, I will be featuring a soft and fluffy Chinese steamed bread called the ‘Bao’. With the rise of contemporary Chinese and Pan-Asian cuisine such as Momofuku in New York, and Banh Mi Boys in Toronto, the Bao is enjoying its time under the gastronomical lime light.
There are many ways of transforming and using Bao: from stuffing it with Chinese barbecued pork (char siu) to filling it with sweet custards. The Bao is truly a versatile bread. For this post, I will be focusing on the Shanghai staple: Shengjian Bao. A savoury Bao filled with succulent meaty goodness, with a crispy golden pan-fried bottom, and a fluffy steamed top.
I know, I know… I am by no means a Dim Sum expert (gosh, it takes YEARS of training!!), so my Shengjian Bao doesn’t look as pretty and delicate as the ones made by classically trained Chinese Chefs. But looks aside, even for dim sum amateurs like me, we can still make delectable Shengjian Bao in our home kitchens.
So here you go, try this at home! Another Nommy Noms Recipe:
Pan-Fried Pork Bao (Shengjian Bao 生煎包)
Pork Filling Ingredients
- ~360g Pork Butt/Shoulder (Find one that has a higher fat content, and include the fat!)
- 1.5 tsp Minced Fresh Ginger
- 1 tsp Dark Soy Sauce
- 1 Tbsp Light Soy Sauce
- 1 Tbsp Salt
- 1 tsp Rice Wine (Preferably Shaoxing Wine)
- 1/2 tsp Chinese Five Spice Powder
- 1/2 tsp Sugar
- 2 tsp Sesame Oil
- 3 Cloves Garlic (minced)
- 1 tsp Cornstarch
- 1/4 C Chinese Chives (optional)
- 200 grams Flour (Preferably bread flour, all purpose flour works as well)
- 1/2 C Water (Lukewarm, about 40C)
- 1/2 tsp Instant Dry Yeast
- 2 Tbsp Sugar
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Oil
- 1 stalk Spring Onion (chopped)
- 3 Tbsp Toasted Sesame Seeds
The Fun Part:
- Grind the pork in a food processor, and then mix in the all the condiments, stirring in one direction (clockwise or anti-clockwise, you choose, but once you choose a direction keep stirring in THAT direction). Let sit in the fridge for 4 hours to let the flavours mingle. (*Note: The flavours are to taste. If you don’t have dark soy, substitute it with light soy.)
- While the meat and the condiments are mingling in their own little cocktail party. Prepare the Bao! (You can start the Bao making about 2 hours into the meat-mingling process). In a large bowl, add warm water and mix in yeast, sugar, salt and oil. Let sit for about 5 minutes. Then add in sifted bread flour and knead with a standmixer on ‘medium’ with a dough-hook attachment for about 10 minutes, until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Take care to scrape the dough from the sides of the bowl from time to time, and if the dough is too sticky (ie. sticks to the sides of the bowl and refuses to form nice kneadable dough-ball) add a small amount of flour to the dough (try a tablespoon at a time). If you don’t have a stand mixer, knead on a floured surface until the dough comes becomes smooth and elastic, adding flour to the dough as needed. (*Note: Be careful not to add too much flour to the dough if you are kneading by hand! The dough will tend to be sticky, especially in the beginning, don’t overdo the flour!)
- Place kneaded dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film, and let it sit and rise in a warm, draft free place. (If you have a cold kitchen, try heating your oven to 170F, then turn it OFF, and then let your bread rise inside the warm oven. Heat and turn off your oven before kneading the dough to let the oven cool off a bit. ). Under warm ambient temperature, this will take about an hour, and the bread should be rise to not quite doubled in size.
- Once risen, on a lightly floured surface, divide dough into 8-10 pieces. You can either roll it into a log and then divide it, or roll it into a circle and divide it like I do.
- Roll out each piece of the divided dough in a circle, leaving slightly more dough (ie. thicker) towards the centre of the circle and slightly less dough (ie thiner) towards the periphery of the circle. Add the meat filling onto the dough, and fold the dough in a Bao form, as shown.
- Place the bao in an oiled tray, cover and let rise and rest for another 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile chop the spring onions and toast the sesame seeds on an UNOILED heated pan, take care not to burn it!
- Once the bao has risen, add oil to a pan and heat on medium high heat. Place the Bao bottom down to brown the underside to a crispy golden brown (about 2-3minutes).
- Once the bottoms are a nice golden brown, add BOILING water to the pan till it covers about half an inch of the bao, cover with lid to let steam cook the buns. As the steam cooks the bao, the steam will escape leaving the pan dry. (This will take about 5 minutes, do a quick check on the 3 minute mark to see how much water has steamed off, a glass lid will be especially handy!)
- When done, place the bao on a plate, crispy golden side up and top with toasted sesame seeds and chopped green onions! Enjoy!