Bao is magic. It is a delicious steamed bun filled with perfection. I go into the kitchen with new recipes all the time, but rarely do they come out just as perfect as these did. This was a project Kirsten and I had been dreaming about for so long. It was worth the wait. It was so wonderful and Aaron is harassing me to make it again. These were the first things we started on dumpling day, but they were the last ones ready. Take the time and make these happen in your life.
Char Siu Bao via Jessica Gavin:
Makes about 24 buns that don't last long
To make the filling, heat the oil over medium heat and sauté the shallots 2 minutes or until light brown. Add the flour, stir to combine, and cook 1 minute.
Add the chicken stock, stir well, and cook 2 minutes. Add soy sauce and cook one minute. Remove from heat and stir in cut pork and seasoning ingredients. Chill until very firm.
To make the dough, dissolve sugar in warm water, sprinkle yeast over; let stand 2-3 minutes, and then stir to mix well. Let set until it starts to foam, 10 minutes.
Sift flour and make well in the center. Whisk together the lard/shortening, sugar, yeast mixture, and milk. The fat will not completely dissolve into the liquid.
Combine liquid mixture with the flour; gradually incorporate the flour with the liquid to make dough. Knead the dough for 10 minutes, sprinkling with flour as necessary.
Use the oil to grease the outside of the dough; cover and let rest in warm area 1½ hours or until doubled in size.
Punch dough down and flatten out to about ¾ inch thick. Spread the baking powder mixture evenly on the dough. This acts as a stabilizer. Roll dough up and knead about 10 minutes, or until smooth and satiny. The dough should be firmer than regular white bread dough. Cover and let rest 30 minutes.
Divide the dough into four equal parts. Roll one part by hand to form a rope approximately 9 inches long and 1¼ inch in diameter. Mark into 6 equal parts, 1½ inch long. Holding the dough with one hand, grip at the first mark with the thumb and index finger of the other hand and tear away briskly to break off a small dough piece. Continue breaking until you have 24 pieces. Flatten each piece of dough with your palm. Using a rolling pin, roll each into a round disk, making quarter turn with each roll. Roll to leave the center thick; thinner edges are easier to pleat. I had difficulty getting these as thin as I wanted which led to slightly chewier bao, but they still tasted wonderful, so don't worry if you can't get them quite right.
Place about 1 tablespoon of filling at the center of each dough round, flat side up. Gather the edges by first pleating counterclockwise, and then twisting to seal securely. Place the bun round side up on a square piece of parchment paper (2.5 X 2.5 inches).
Let buns rest, covered for at least 30 minutes.
Steam on high heat for 8 to 10 minutes. Do not uncover the steamer any time during the steaming. If a flat lid steamer is used, wrap the lid in a kitchen towel to prevent condensed steam from dripping on the buns.
Eat with dipping sauce and spicy Chinese mustard. These were so, so, so good! I'm excited to try to make different fillings. The dough is super easy and comes together perfectly. I recommend doing this recipe with another person. Having Kirsten work on the filling while I made the dough cut down on our waiting to eat bao time.
These were the perfect end to dumpling day and I can't wait to make the time to make them again.