I’ll be frank. They were ugly. So ugly that I had to put up a photo of the cross section of the finished bun so that no one will not be turned off by the final product and stop reading this post. But the dough recipe was good, so I wanted to jot it down here to share and thus the reason for the second photo.
They were soft, fluffy and have the right amount of sweetness that make the buns enjoyable even when eaten plain. Made some “kosong” (empty without fillings) version, which were easier to shape and more “photogenic”; no pleats, smooth perfect dome. Nice.
The recipe below yields 18 buns. I got more tips from here , that says adding a few drops of vinegar into the water in the steamer will produce whiter colour buns, and misting the buns before steaming will produce smooth skin. Can’t wait for my next bun making session to test these out!
CHINESE VEGETARIAN STEAMED BUNS
dough recipe adapted from here fillings recipe, my own for dough: 300g hong kong "pao" flour 25g corn starch 50g fine sugar 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon baking powder 5g instant yeast 30g oil (i used peanut oil) 150g water for fillings: 350g taiwanese cabbage, chopped 50g carrots, chopped 50g white/black fungus, chopped 50g chinese mushrooms, sliced** 3 stalks of spring onions, chopped*** small knob of ginger, sliced 2 tablespoon cooking oil 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast 1 tablespoon vegetarian oyster sauce 1 tablespoon white sesame oil white pepper, sugar, to taste 1-2 teaspoon cornstarch
** I chop all the filling ingredients except for Chinese mushrooms, which I prepare as slices, as I like some bite in the fillings.
*** Optional, for Buddhist vegetarian diet that excludes 5 pungent spices :onions, garlic, scallions, chives and leeks, omit spring onions.
To make bun dough, place all dry ingredients (flour, corn flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and yeast) in a mixing bowl, stir to mix evenly with a hand whisk. Next add water and oil , and knead the ingredients with an electric mixer at slow speed into a soft and smooth dough with a dough hook, takes around 10-12 minutes. Leave it aside, covered with clean towel, let it rise to double its volume for 30 minutes.
Prepare the fillings next.
To cook fillings, heat oil in a frying pan, fry ginger slices till fragrant, discard the ginger slices. Add sliced mushrooms, chopped carrot, cabbage and fungus, stir to cook well. Add chopped spring onions, if using. Season first with nutritional yeast, stir to mix, then add oyster sauce, stir around to cook again. Lastly, add sesame oil. Taste test the filling, and finally add white pepper and sugar to taste.
To make the fillings slightly sticky, similar to the texture of minced meat, I thicken it by adding cornstarch, all the while stirring the mixture to prevent it from burning at the base of pan. Once the filling mixture thickens to the consistency you like, turn off fire and let it cool down before wrapping it with the bun dough. If it is too hot, it will kill the yeast in the dough and the bun will not rise while cooking.
To assemble bun, pinch a piece of dough about the size of a golf ball with hands oiled with sesame oil to make the sticky dough easier to handle, roll it into a ball and flatten it into a round shape wrapper. Use this to wrap roughly 1 tablespoon of fillings and pleat to seal the buns (I found this helpful demo video only after making the buns) and placed them on flattened paper cupcake liners. I use 30g of dough to wrap about 25g of fillings Let the buns rest for at least 15 minutes before steaming.
Prepare steamer by boiling the water first before placing the buns inside to cook. Never put the buns into the steamer before the water starts to boil vigorously. We need the hot steam to make the buns expand and rise, so remember to leave enough gaps between each bun when arranging them in the steamer basket, like this:
These are the buns after steaming for 20 minutes. Make sure there is enough water in the steamer for the entire 20 minutes. Opening the cover half way during steaming or topping up with cold water in the midst of steaming are not allowed. Serve immediately.