Monday, February 23, 2009

Chinese Baos

Here's one of my first posts, and nobody commented on it. Heck, maybe nobody even read it then. This is a really good recipe, so do try this out.

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Some people ask me why I give away my recipes. Hey, I can't take them with me...

This is one recipe everybody should have. I've made bao many times but never really been fully satisfied with the results. So a few weeks ago I paid to learn it from a chef who is also the writer of many cookbooks in KL.

Chef taught us four kinds of baos (you just have to change the filling). However when he came to the highlight, the Hong Kong smiling bao which the 24 of us were there for, Chef made a mistake with the starter dough and declared the baos may not crack open or smile. And they sure didn't smile. Some did, but like Mona Lisa, the cracks on top were reluctant smiles. Many participants were upset about that but didn't speak up (Asian thing). The smiling baos did have that sponge-cake texture but unfortunately the stink of ammonia was very strong. The regular bao dough taught by Chef was very good though.

Regular Bao Dough

A Ingredients:
1 tsp dry yeast
2 Tbsp water
-mix A ingredients together.
(Sshh...if you know your yeast is active, just mix A and B ingredients together at once. I do that all the time)
B Ingredients:
350g Bao or HK flour or Rose (plain) flour
1 tsp double-action baking powder
50g (or less, say 30 g) fine sugar 
200 to 250 ml water* (amended)
1 Tbsp shortening (Crisco) or veg oil

*If you use 250 ml and you are kneading by hand, add 200 ml first and knead in the remainder slowly, 10 to 15 ml each time, so that the dough is not too sticky to handle.

1. Sift the flour and baking powder together (usually I don't bother if the flour is fresh). If using shortening, rub it into the flour evenly.

2. Mix A with all the B ingredients in a mixer bowl and knead at medium speed till very smooth, about 6-8 minutes. The dough should be quite soft. Never mind if it's slighty sticky. Continue kneading until it isn't sticky. If kneading with hands, put dough back into the bowl and cover with a cloth. Rest for 30 min or until doubled, depending on room temperature.

3. Divide dough into 50g portions, roll into smooth balls without using flour.

4. Flatten each ball, roll into a circle with a rolling stick and fill it, seal it and put it on a piece of paper. Rest at least 30 min or till doubled. Do not overproof or bao will wrinkle when steamed.

5. Steam at high heat for 8 to 10 minutes for cooked filling (red-bean paste, fried mixed veg or bbq pork) and 10-12 min for raw meat filling.

*You can substitute 100g of this with equal weight of steamed, mashed sweet potatoes. It'll give a tasty orangey bao.

note: if you know the yeast is good/active, just mix A and B ingredients together at once.

BBQ Pork Filling

300 g bbq pork, diced small
1 brown onion,chopped
3- 4 garlic, chopped fine
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
1 Tbsp dark soya sauce
1 light soya sauce
1/2 Tbsp fine sugar
1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
white pepper
msg (optional)
coriander leaves, chopped (optional)
toasted sesame seeds (optional)
1 T cornstarch + 2 Tbsp water, mixed

Heat 1 Tbsp oil in wok, fry oinions and garlic, add everything else and finally thicken with cornstarch solution.

Meat And Veg Filling

300 g minced pork
200 g wongbok, blanched in hot water and cut finely
spring onions or chinese chinves, cut fine
1 tsp ginger, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp light soya sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp chicken stock granules
2 Tbsp cornflour
3 Tbsp veg oil
1/4 cup water

Mix everything together and chill in fridge for a couple of hours till it is set so that it'll be easier to handle because there's quite a bit of water. Its okay if its slightly frozen.

Some important tips:

1. Do not over-proof or the baos will rise too much and when steamed, it'll shrink and become wrinkled.
2. Use a bamboo steamer because it'll let out some steam. If you use a metal lid, the steam will condense and drop onto the baos, ruining its surface.
3. Almost all commercial baos have ammonia because it will give a soft, fine-textured bao.
4. At the shops, baos are steamed at high heat till cooked, then constantly steamed at low heat not only to keep them warm and soft, but also to get rid of the ammonia stink.
5. Both Hong Kong flour and 'Pau' flour can be used. These flours have a lower gluten level so the baos will be softer. Plus these flours are highly bleached to make them white, something most consumers like. Me, I'd rather eat ammonia-free unbleached yellow baos.


Precious Pea said...

I shall be the first to comment on your old post!

I think when am unemployed from May onwards, I shall try out one recipe a day and Char Siu Bao would certainly be one of the few first recipe that I would do.

Anonymous said...

You are such a nice and lovely lady to share your recipes with us Thank you and may the Lord always bless you and your family Thanks again

b said...

haha! it was your old post that inspired me into buying the huge bamboo steamer and to attempt making homemade baos.

J. Ambrose said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
van said...

I'll try my best to make the Baos..... it is just too warm over in Melbourne to do anything in the kitchen now. Oh and I think I should get a bigggggggg Bamboo steamer like yours too. Mine is tiny.....

Terri said...

Oh, Terri, I love these. My son learned to make them with the BBQ pork filling when he was in middle school (he's now 42). We haven't had them in years. Thanks for the reminder. I'm going to try yours!

su said...

hi terri,

made bbq pork pau yesterday and they turned out yummy. best eaten fresh out of the steamer cos i find they turn hard after a while. is that normal?

when i told the char siew uncle to cut the meat for making pau, he suggested adding his char siew sauce which i did. i browned chopped onions and garlic in oil, then added char siew with sauce and toasted sesame seeds last. the filling turned out moist and delicious.

thank you for sharing the recipe. the trick now is to wean family off store bought, soft fluffy pau.....

Kathleen said...

Hi! You have a really good blog here. Love visiting it on a daily basis. Tried your BBQ baos this afternoon and the pork fillings received many good reviews. But the skin (dough) turns a little hard after a while. I had a very dry dough following the 120ml water added. So as I knead, I continuously add more water til I get a softer dough. Is that normal? Thanks

Anonymous said...

I love these things (so yummy!). They remind me of my childhood. I was wondering, can you use the same dough recipe for baked baos as steamed ones?

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