Bao buns, my love at first sight. They are the most beautiful sandwiches in the world. I don’t know what I adore more about them, their cute shape or colorful stuffing.
Maybe the combination of those two factors. It was one of my culinary dreams to learn how to make them. But one thing is admiring photos of those cuties, making the perfect one (or close to perfect) is the other. Especially, that I didn’t eat them since just few month ago. Believe me, it’s not an easy job to find vegan bao buns in Cracow. So I kept admiring them on pictures, dreaming of the perfect bao on my plate. Thanks to Kanton Dim Sum House, I’ve tried a vegan bao and it was really good.
It just gave me this push to explore. I decided to make bao on my own. Let my culinary dream come true.
The simplest thing was the stuffing. I always knew that my fist bao would be stuffed with hoisin oyster mushrooms, mango, plenty of coriander and some raw, shredded veggies. I also decided to add some hot pepper and fresh baby spinach. Nothing more, nothing less.
The true challenge was to find a perfect recipe for bao buns. Most recipes on the web claims for baking powder, rice vinegar and oil. It felt a little bit too complicated. I was looking for the recipe that would explain me why I need specific ingredients. I needed to find a recipe that give me a perfectly balance bao, puffy but chewy. I almost decided to prepare bao from some random recipe, but then I found this post “Who took the gua out of bao?” from Lady and Pups. Just a few glances and I knew that was the one! First the introduction, it convinced me that I’m dealing with a good recipe plus it made ma laugh. The instructions were so detailed and yet simple. No extra ingredients, just flour, water, yeast and sugar. I went for it and it was totally worth it. Plus I fell in love with Lady in Pups blog! The aesthetics, the style of writing… and cute, crazy dogs. Basically everything. So I if you haven’t seen this blog, you need to check it out!
Due to all this excitement and because bao buns are so damn cute, I decide to make my first cooking movie. It’s too far from being even decent, but once again the bao buns are just too pretty not share it with you. Plus since I’ve spent some time making the video, why not share, even if it is not top notch.
Vegan bao buns with hoisin oyster mushrooms
mango and coriander
for 6 buns
300 gram of bread flour* (for best result, use )
150 gram of water**
1 tsp of instant dry yeast
3 1/2 tbsp of sugar
*I used 550 type flour, typically used in poland, the original recipe claims that the for the best results, you should use Hong Kong Flour Mill’s bread flour
** in the original recipe their is an option to use have creamy (10g) and 150 grams of water. I choose water option of course, but I’m thinking trying with soy yoghurt some time
- Dissolve yeast and sugar in lukewarm water.
- Due to lack of good dough mixer I knead my dough by hands, but in the original recipe you can read how to knead the dough using such machine.
So, mix all the bao ingredients in a large bowl and knead the dough until very smooth and elastic. In the beginning, it could look dry, but don’t add any liquid. Just wait and keep kneading.The dough should be quite stiff and it shouldn’t stick to bowl, counter top or your hands. If it does, add 1 tbsp more flour. But if it still seems to be to dry add 1 tbsp water (carefully) .
- Place the dough in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and put a kitchen towel on top. Let it proof under room temperature until doubled in size, approximately 1,5 -2 hours depending on the temperature.
- Once doubled, place the dough on the counter-top. The dough shouldn’t be sticky so there’s no need to dust any flour. Punch the air out of the dough and roll it out into a rectangular shape. Roll it into a log. Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces. Cover them with plastic wrap and let rest for 20 min. Meanwhile, prepare 12 sheets of 9 cm squares of parchment paper.
- Once the dough is rested, shape the dough into an oval shape first with your hands, then roll it out into “beef toung” a long rectangular shape (8 cm x 17 cm). Place 1 square of parchment paper on 1 side of the dough and fold the other side over. Place the bao on another piece of parchment and repeat with the rest.
- Place all bao on a steamer with some space between them. Cover the steamer with a plastic wrap and let it proof for another hour. They should look goofy, but not doubled.
- Bring a water to a boil in a a pot, in which the steamer fits. Turn the heat to medium. Place the steamer with bao buns in a pot and cover it with steamer lid. Steam for about 10 minutes on medium heat. The important thing is not let temperature in the steamer get to high. You need to open the lid every 3-4 minutes to check and also to let excessive steam get out. If the temperature in the steamer get to high the boa buns will inflate and deflate and the won’t be so perfect any more. That happened to my first 3 bao, but the other were fine. It’s all about gently and for just a 1-2 seconds open the lid.
- Eat the right away or reheat for 3 minutes.
Hoisin oyster mushrooms:
250g oyster mushrooms
4 tbsp hoisin sauce
few drops of sesame oil
2 tbsp grated ginger
2 garlic cloves crushed
1-2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp canola oil
juice from 1/2 lime
1/2 medium carrot
1/2 white turnip
1 handful of baby spinach
- Mix all the sauce ingredients (hoisin sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, canola oil, lime juice). Add oyster mushrooms (cut in big slices), mix well. Put in the refrigerator for about 1 hour.
- Fry until most of the sauce reduce, stirring frequently.
- Grate a carrot and a turnip. Crush peanuts. Scoop out the mango pulp. Chop chili.
- Now, it’s time to stuff. Spread some mango pulp on the bao. Add a few pieces of chili (optional). Put a few spinach leaves, then hoisin oyster mushrooms, created carrot and turnip, maybe a little bit more of mango pulp. Sprinkle with crushed peanuts, fresh coriander and a few drops of lime juice.