Happy New Year’s to everyone! My new year’s resolution: to put up as many recipes as I can on the Daily Rice Bowl! And what better way to start than posting some delicious steamed pork (or vegetarian) buns to keep you nice and warm during the cold months?
I remember as a child getting ready for school with the smell of banh bao steaming in the kitchen and the sight of my grandma twisting the little pockets of dough. She would send me off to school with a freshly steamed banh bao to keep my hands toasty in the winter months. The memory of walking to school eating banh bao in the winter months, steam radiating from the fluffy bun, is such a comforting thought, which is why I’d love to share the recipe with everyone!
Banh bao is very similar to its Chinese sister and originator, also named “bao”. However, the bun and the ingredients inside vary slightly. I have noticed that the Vietnamese bun is sweeter – we add a pinch of sugar to the dough. The meat inside banh bao is more like a meatball, whereas the the Chinese bao is often meat filled. My favorite part of banh bao is the egg in the center…such a great surprise! Many also love the lap xuong or Chinese sausage pieces tucked inside the meatball. As you probably know by now, cooking recipes are flexible and you may add or take out ingredients as you please.
The recipe followed has both a meat and vegetarian filling option. Enjoy!
Makes about 12 medium sized buns
- 1 pkg of Banh bao flour
- 1 1/2 cups Milk
- Olive oil
- 1 bag of Bun Tau or Bean thread vermicelli – soaked in cold water for 10-15 min, drain and cut into little pieces (easily with kitchen shears)
- 1/2 Onion – diced
- Garlic Powder
- Mushroom Powder
- Soy Sauce
- 6 Hard Boiled Eggs or 12 Quail Eggs – shelled; cut in half if regular eggs are used
- Squares or Circles of white paper – I use a rice bowl to trace on computer paper and then cut
Meat filling –
- 1 lb of ground Pork or ground meat of choice – the traditional meat used is pork, however I have substituted turkey as lean choice
- 2 links of lap xuong or Chinese sausage – not shown in this recipe because I forgot and didn’t want to run back to the store…
- 1 1/2 -2 carrots – diced
Vegetarian filling –
- 1 pkg of medium-firm Tofu – cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 Xu or Chayote – shredded
- 2 Carrots – shredded
***Note: if you decided to make more than 1 package at a time, do not make the dough altogether! It is very difficult to knead 2 pkgs of dough. Instead, do them in separate batches.
1.) Dough – Follow bag instructions for dough prep (Milk, sugar and oil will be used). However, add 1/4-1/2 cup milk more than the recipe. This will give you a nicely moist and fluffier dough.
2.) Meat Filling –
- Slice your lap xuong or Chinese sausage in half lengthwise. And then slice it into small pieces.
- Add olive oil to a skillet and turn it to med-high.
- Add in your sliced sausage and saute for a few minutes.
- Add in your diced onion and cook until sausage is fully cooked. Take off heat and let cool.
- Place your ground meat in a large bowl. Season with salt, sugar, garlic powder and mushroom powder (about 1-1.5 tbsp of each) and knead into the meat.
- Add a dash of ground pepper and soy sauce and knead in.
- Add in your carrots, cut bun tao or vermicelli and onion/sausage mix. Knead into dough until everything is mixed about evenly. (Lap xuong not pictured)
2.) Vegetarian Filling –
- Add a generous amount of oil into a skillet and place on med-high heat.
- Add in your slices of tofu and cook until both sides are golden brown. Drain on a paper towel and set aside to let cool.
- Still on med high heat, add in your diced onion (pour out some oil if it is too much). Saute for a few minutes.
- Add in your shredded carrots. Add in some salt, sugar, and mushroom powder to taste. Cook until carrots and onion are very closed to being cooked.
- Add in your shredded chayote. This will cook very quickly.
- After all your ingredients are cooked, add the mixture to your bun tao/vermicelli and mix. Add soy sauce and ground pepper to taste.
- Dice your tofu pieces and add into the mixture.
3.) Making the banh bao –
- Dough should be ready by now (after 30 min to sit). Very lightly flour a board and rolling pin.
- Make golf sized balls of dough. This will make a medium sized bun, but you can always make it smaller or bigger (I like making small baby buns for little kids!).
- Take a dough ball and roll it out on the board, making it as thin as possible without tearing. Making it as round as possible will make it easier in assembling. (In picture, dough should be thinner!)
- Spoon your filling in the center and had either half a chicken egg or one quail egg on top.
- Start folding in the sides, pinching them together. As you do this, make you sure you also keep it tight around the filling and as round as possible. Do this in the way you find easiest…I like to pull in the opposite sides, squeeze, then pull in another side, squeeze, ect…while keeping the filling tight inside too! It’s also very important to try to keep the dough tight at the top so that it will not pop out. Also, cover any tears/holes. It’s tricky, but practice definitely helps!
- Place each bun on a square/circle of white paper. The paper should be larger than the dough so that it has room to expand! (In this picture, I marked the ones with the little triangle cuts as vegetarian buns)
- In your steamer, place in water and vinegar or lemon juice (vinegar preferable). Allow to boil. Place your buns in the steamer, covered for 30 minutes. Do not life the cover!
4.) Serve and enjoy! If you would like to save it for later, let cool and saran wrap tightly. It can be placed in the freezer or fridge and microwaved when ready to eat. I recommend eating it right away though!
Happy Cooking and Happy New Year!