If you’ve ever ordered dim sum from a Chinese restaurant, you’ve probably tried one of the many delicious varieties of steamed buns. The buns can be filled with red bean paste, custard, steamed pork, taro paste and even shrimp, leeks and chicken. The soft, melt-in-your-mouth taste and the wide variety of fillings available make them a hit for any occasion.
However, ordering out all the time can get tiresome (and expensive) and sometimes it is more fun just to make the dish at home. The buns are easy and delicious even if they aren’t made perfectly.
The simplest fillings are the pre-made ones, like taro paste or red bean paste, but if you have more time on your hands, the steamed pork buns are especially tasty. If you are interested in making the pork buns, here is a great recipe: steamed pork buns.
You will need for plain buns:
- 1 1/2 tsps of active dry yeast (easy to find in the grocery store)
- 1/2 cup lukewarm water
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup self-rising flour
- 3 tsps butter (melted)
- Food coloring (optional)
For the pre-made filling:
- 1/2 cup of either red bean paste or taro paste (Asian grocery stores where red bean and taro paste could be found)
- Steamer or rice cooker
- Mixing bowls
- Kitchen towels (optional)
- Boom-box or mp3 player with speakers (mandatory)
- Set up boom-box or mp3 player with upbeat, fun music. You can also use a radio station (online radio stations are simple and easy to stream through your computer!).
- In a small mixing bowl, combine yeast with two tablespoons of water, one tablespoon sugar and one tablespoon of flour. Stir and then cover with a moist kitchen towel or paper towel. Do not refrigerate. Leave out until it begins to foam (approx 10-15 minutes).
- While the yeast is resting, mix together the two types of flour and the sugar. When this is thoroughly mixed, add in the yeast mix, 1/2 cup of water and the 3 tsps of melted butter. Stir until it achieves a thick, doughy texture. Add food coloring at this point. You can separate the dough into different bowls if you would like to have different colored buns.
- Pour flour on your counter (it’s messy and fun for all ages) and spread evenly to make sure that the dough won’t stick to it. Take the dough out of the mixing bowl and knead it for 10-20 minutes, or until the dough no longer feels super-sticky.
- Smooth oil (grapeseed oil is a good choice — it is relatively flavorless and pretty healthy) or cover a bowl with baking paper or more flour to ensure that the dough won’t stick to it, then put the dough in the bowl to rest for an hour or so. Do not refrigerate. During this resting period, the dough should approximately double in size.
- Fill up your steamer or rice cooker well with water to the maximum level and make sure that everything is clean and ready to go.
- After an hour, squeeze the dough gently to remove excess air and knead the dough on the floured surface once more. Separate the dough into 12 sections (less for bigger buns) and roll each section into a round shape. Now is the time when you will add a filling, if you are going to do so.
- To add a filling, flatten the bun slightly and then place the filling in the center of the now flat bun. You can fold it up nicely so that all of the edges meet (to prevent the filling from escaping) and pinch it to seal the bun.
- Place the buns in the steamer or rice cooker (don’t worry if they don’t all fit, you can do several rounds depending on how small your steamer is). They will get bigger as they cook, so give them a little bit of room to expand. Steam for 15 minutes, then beckon friends and family to enjoy your homemade treat.
- Turn off boom-box.
Let us know how yours turn out in the comments below!