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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Baozi (Chinese Steamed Pork Buns)

When you think of Chinese food, you don't usually think of bread. But there are a few Chinese breads, and they are delicious! One of my favorites, that you can buy from street vendors in Taiwan, is Baozi. Baozi are steamed buns filled with all kinds of yummy things. Because the bread is steamed, it is light and fluffy. I'll never forget the day I rode my bike past a street vendor selling a Chocolate Baozi! Chocolate and Bread? I'm in! But Baozi doesn't have to be sweet to be delicious. This recipe is for a pork filled Baozi. Baozi make a great lunch (and they freeze well) but you can really eat them anytime. These aren't too hard to prepare, but because they are made with yeast dough, you have to start ahead. You can rush these if you need to (ask me how I know), but for the fluffiest Baozi, let them rise for the recommended times.

Start this recipe a couple of hours before you want to eat it. Mix the dough ingredients and then just walk away and let it rise. Go watch the latest episode of Once Upon A Time for me. Come back and divide the dough into little, somewhat equal size dough balls. Roll them out into thin disks of dough.

Add meat in the center and roll the dough in toward the center, pinching as you go.

Continue filling your dough with meat filling. Set aside and let rise for 20-30 minutes. Here are my baozi rising:
They will grow even more in the steamer, about doubling in size- be sure to leave room in the steamer.

(Chinese Steamed Pork buns)
recipe slightly adapted from
makes 16 buns
For the dough:
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
For the filling:
8 ounces ground pork
1/4 cup finely chopped cabbage or bok choy
1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
Pour warm water into the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix in the yeast and allow to stand until bubbly, ab out 5 minutes.*
Add remaining dough ingredients and mix on low speed with the dough hook, until the dough forms a ball. If the dough is too dry, add water, a Tablespoon at a time until you see a ball form. Knead for 5 minutes. Cover and allow to rise for approximately one hour, or until doubled in size.**
Prepare the filling by mixing all filling ingredients together in a separate bowl.
Once the dough has risen, divide the dough into 16 equal pieces. Roll them into balls and then use a rolling pin to flatten them out. Spoon a dollop of filling into the center of the disc. Pull the edges up around the filling and pinch together to form a bun.  Continue this process with the rest of the dough until all of the buns are filled. Allow the buns to rest for 20 - 30 minutes.
Cook the buns in a steamer (I use a pot and a steamer insert) for 12-15 minutes.  Depending on the size of your steamer, you may need to work in batches. You can cook the buns on parchment paper so they won't stick.
Eat! I love these with Trader Joe's Sweet Chili Sauce, but they can also be dipped in soy sauce or enjoyed plain. 
*This is called proofing your yeast and is a great idea to make sure your yeast will do its thing and make the bread rise. 
**If you're in a hurry, a great trick is to put the bowl in the oven- with the oven turned OFF!- and it will rise much faster! 

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