Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Steamed Vegetable Buns, Chinese Style

I've always loved the Chinese steamed pork buns, and when I tried Jamie Oliver's recipe, from "jamie's kitchen" I was hooked even more. This recipe is easy to follow, and produces wonderful results everytime. It works just as well using chicken breasts instead of pork chops, but I decided to try it with vegetables this time, as an accompaniment to the Honey Lime Roasted Chicken I made a few nights ago.

I stuck to the same basic filling flavours, and it worked really well. We still prefer pork though!

 To make the filling,grate or finely chop about 3 cups of vegetables.

I used grated carrot, yellow and green zucchini and diced red pepper.

Sweat the vegetables in olive oil until starting to soften. Add 2 cloves garlic, minced and 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger. Add about 1/2 cup apple or orange juice to sweeten and prevent them from drying out too much.

Continue to cook until the vegetables are soft, but not mushy. Remove from the heat to cool.

1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce
4 tablespoons hoisin sauce

Mix well, and set aside while the dough for the buns rises.

To make the buns, combine the following in a large bowl:

2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt (less if using salted butter)
3 1/2 tablespoons cold butter, cubed

Using your fingers, work the butter into the dry ingredients until you have a fine crumb.

In a separate bowl place 1/2 tablespoon of active dry yeast.

Fill a 2 cup measuring jug with warm water (slightly hotter than body temperature).

Measure 14 tablespoons into the yeast, give it a quick stir and leave it to start proofing. When little bubbles start rising, it is ready.

Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and stir to combine.

No kneading is required in this recipe.

When all the liquid is incorporated you will have a fairly rough looking dough.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave the dough to rise until doubled in size.

When the dough is light and puffy and double in size, gently punch it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured counter.

Divide the dough into 10 equal sized pieces and form into balls.

I like to weight them, they are around 2 ounces each.

Now for the assembly:

Press each ball flat, about 2 1/2" to 3" in diameter, making a slight indent in the centre.

Place a tablespoon of filling in the centre.

Gently pull the sides of the dough up to meet in the middle and cover the filling. Pinch them together to seal.

Place each bun in a muffin cup liner in a bamboo steamer.

I like to place 5 in each layer, that gives plenty of room for them to grow, which they do!

Cover with a clean towel and allow to rise for about 15 minutes.

Heat water in a shallow pan or wok that will hold your steamer comfortably.

Place the lid on the steamer, and set it in the water. Keep an eye on the water, replenish it if needed. You don't want the buns on the bottom layer to be sitting in a bath of water.

They should steam for around 10 minutes. they will puff up more, and the filling will be hot inside. Check by sticking a metal skewer into one of the buns to test the temperature of the filling.

Remove the steamer from the water, and serve the buns with more sweet chili sauce, soy sauce or sriracha.

  • As I mentioned earlier, Jamie Oliver's original recipe calls for pork. If you prefer chicken, use 2 breasts for the recipe.
  • Extra filling does freeze well, so why not double it and save on some of the work next time you make them?
  • The buns are best eaten hot, but people in our house have been known to take them for lunch the next day.
  • Jamie Oliver suggests lining the steamer with lime leaves for extra fragrance. I haven't tried this, but it will also help to stop the buns from sticking to the bamboo. If you have access to somewhere that sells banana leaves (usually an Asian supermarket, often in the freezer) those also work well for lining the steamer.
  • Adjust the size of the buns if you wish, just remember to adjust the amount of filling and possibly the steaming time.
  • If you like Peking duck, chop it finely and use it for the filling.
  • Shitake or enoki mushrooms, sliced green onions, blanched sliced cabbage are some other vegetables that can be used.

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