These little vegan, veggie packed bao buns are super fun to make and look rather impressive. Even better they taste like the real deal, packed full of fresh flavours and with buns that have a lovely pillow like texture!
Don't be intimidated by the cooking steps and dough assembly involved, they don't have to end up looking perfect to taste insanely good and I loved learning how to achieve a proper Chinese bun like texture by both pan frying and steaming the buns!
A perfect weekend project while we await for the outdoor hospitality to reopen next week in the UK!
- ⅔ cup warm water approx. 95°F (35°C)
- 2 ¼ tsp instant yeast
- 1 tsp sugar optional
- 2 ½ cup all-purpose flour + more for dusting
- 1-2 tbsp sesame oil for frying
- 1 stick leek finely chopped
- 7 oz white cabbage shredded
- 1 large carrot shredded
- 1 red bell pepper finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 7 oz smoked tofu finely chopped (or sub mushrooms, *see notes)
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sriracha
For frying & steaming
- 1 tbsp oil
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp honey
- ¼ tsp sesame oil
- ½ tsp sriracha or sambal oelekoptional
Making the dough
- Mix the yeast with the water and sugar in a small bowl and set aside for around 5 minutes.
- Whisk together the flour and a pinch of salt in a large bowl.
- Pour in the water with yeast slowly and stir with a chopstick (or wooden spoon) until it clumps together. Transfer to a work surface and knead with your hands (or use a mixer with dough hooks) until a smooth and soft dough forms, about 5 minutes.
- Put the dough back in the bowl, cover and let rest for about 45 minutes, or until the ball has doubled in size.
Preparing the filling
- Heat the oil in a pan and finely chopped mushrooms.
- Add the leek, cabbage, carrots, bell pepper, and garlic to the pan and sauté for 2-3 minutes, until the veggies are slightly tender.
- Then add the soy sauce, salt and sriracha to taste.
- Mix well and set aside to cool.
Assembling the buns
- Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down, and knead it briefly to remove all air bubbles.
- Then roll it into a long log and cut into 10 pieces (or more for smaller buns).
- Work with one piece at a time and cover the rest with a clean kitchen towel to prevent them from drying out.
- Flatten one piece of dough with your palm and roll it into a round wrapper with thinner edges, about 4.7-inch (12 cm) in diameter.
- Add about 2-3 tablespoons of filling to the center, then fold the bun up and around the filling, making sure to seal the top.
- Repeat until all the buns are assembled.
Cooking the buns
- Heat the oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat.
- Place the buns in the pan with the pinched-side up (make sure to not overcrowd the pan!),
- and cook for about 2-3 minutes.
- Once the bottoms are golden-brown and crispy, flip them over and carefully, pour in ¼ cup of water to create steam.
- Immediately cover the pan, reduce to low heat and allow buns to steam for about 10 minutes, or until the water has evaporated.
- Remove from pan, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with the dipping sauce as desired. Enjoy!
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