Soft, fluffy (yeast-free) steamed bao buns filled with sticky veg seasoned with Chinese 5 Spice, served with a side of silken tofu topped with pine nuts and spring onions.
Notes: Your bicarbonate of soda must be fresh! · You need a steamer for this recipe ·
BASIC INGREDIENTS (4 PEOPLE)
Greaseproof paper (8 squares, 10cmx10cm)
300g self raising flour
50g of cornflour
Bicarbonate of soda (aka baking soda in the US)
60ml milk (non-dairy/dairy)
350g silken tofu (NOT FIRM)
1 carrot (medium)
Big bunch spring onions (8)
125g shiitake mushrooms
Maple syrup (get the best quality you can afford)
60g pine nuts
Herbs and spices: 3" chunk fresh ginger, garlic (2 cloves/jarred), small bunch fresh coriander, Chinese 5 spice powder, fresh chillis/chilli flakes
LUXURY INGREDIENTS (OPTIONAL)
Selection of our bao buns with a side of silken tofu prepared by the foodies in this week's class
In order to make these bao buns accessible for a one hour cooking class, I have adapted a traditional recipe - it's yeast-free but uses self-raising flour and bicarbonate of soda to make the buns rise.
In a large bowl, mix:
300g self-raising flour
2tsp bicarbonate of soda
1-2tsp sugar (your choice)
In a measuring jug mix 140ml of plant-based milk (any) and the juice of half a lime.
Next make a well and gently mix in 4tbsp of any flavourless oil. Then add most of the liquid and mix with a fork. Add more liquid, bit by bit: you may not need all of it.
You are going for a soft, slightly sticky texture - if the dough sticks in clumps to your fingers, it's too wet so add a sprinkle more of flour; likewise, if it is very crumbly, add a drizzle more liquid.
Kneed for 3-4 minutes then rub the outside with a bit of oil, cover and leave in a warm place to rise while you make the filling.
Bao bun filling
Dice your shiitake mushrooms into crouton sized chunks and stir fry on almost your highest setting with a tablespoon of sesame oil. You want to get rid of some of the moisture.
Use a vegetable peeler to make ribbons out of the carrot and courgette, and slice 6 spring onions into long strips. Add to the stir fry and heat until everything is a little soft: sprinkle in 2tsp of Chinese 5 spice, chilli powder to taste and 3tbs of soy sauce.
Take off the heat and stir in 1tbs sesame oil, mix in half of your chopped coriander and the juice of half a lime.
Now it's time to roll and fill your buns!
Cut your dough into 8 pieces and roll out into a circle, about half a centimetre thick (keep any dough covered that you're not using so it doesn't dry out).
Fill your dough with some filling and then twist up all the sides and squeeze the top so there's no air able to get out.
Boil 3 inches of water in your saucepan, pop your buns onto greaseproof paper and into the steamer with the lid on for 10 minutes. Then take off the heat for 3 minutes (keep the lid on) and then put onto a metal rack so you don't get a soggy bottom.
Picture courtesy of @vanda89vandi
Silken tofu side
For this super easy, delicious, healthy side dish, carefully tip your tofu onto a nice bowl.
Toast a generous handful of pine nuts in a little sesame oil.
Make the dressing while you toast away:
2tbsp sesame oil
2tbsp maple syrup
1tbs soy sauce
1tsp cider vinegar
Squeeze of lime
Just before serving, put the toasted pine nuts on top of the silken tofu, add fresh chopped coriander, 2 sliced spring onions and sliced chillies (if liked). Then drizzle on the dressing.
Serve your buns with siracha sauce, if liked. Bon appetite!