Bao, or baozi, are steamed buns filled with chopped meat (usually char siu barbecued pork) that are a prized regular in the yum cha (dim sum) carts. They are wildly popular right now with food trucks and probably set to become the next worldwide food craze. There is something about the cushy lighter-than-air bun and spicy sauce in the centre that makes people go weak at the knees. The dried milk powder gives the buns a sweet taste but if you don’t have it, they still work really well.
To make the dough, put the dry ingredients and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook.
Mix on low speed until well combined. Add the water and vegetable oil and knead in the mixer for 8-10 minutes or until smooth and soft. Alternatively, to make by hand, put the dry ingredients in a mound on a work surface and make a well in the centre. Mix the yeast with the water and oil, then pour into the well and start mixing until the dough comes together. Knead by hand for 8-10 minutes or until smooth and soft.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and stand in a warm place for 1-2 hours until doubled in size.
Meanwhile, to make the filling, cut the chicken into 3 cm (
When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down to expel the gas and knead for another minute. Divide the dough in half and roll out each piece into a fat cylinder. Cut each cylinder into 8 pieces. Roll out all of the pieces on a very lightly floured work surface into 7.5 cm (
Cooking in batches if necessary, put the buns in a large bamboo or metal stacked steamer basket, making sure they don’t touch each other. Make sure the steamer basket fits snugly over the saucepan or wok, then fill the bottom of the saucepan or wok with water and bring it to the boil. Set the steamer over the boiling water and cook for 10-12 minutes until the buns are cooked through. Serve immediately with roasted chilli sauce.
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