Sunday, January 23, 2011

Bánh Bao (Vietnamese pork stuffed steamed buns)

Bánh bao is the Vietnamese version of 包子 (baozi). I've been craving bánh bao for days now, but classes and work have kept me from making it. Thank goodness the weekend has arrived and I found enough time to make these.

I've been experimenting with different ratios of all purpose flour and low-gluten flour, and I found that using half-half of each flour works best to create a fluffy bao texture. However, if you do not have enough low-gluten flour, feel free to change the ratio.

I've also heard that you can create make-shift low-gluten flour by adding two tablespoons of corn starch to a cup before filling it with all purpose flour. I have yet to try this and will update on the outcome when I finally get to it!

Bánh Bao (Vietnamese Pork-stuffed Steamed Buns)

Savor. Devour.


Starter Dough:

· ½ cup lukewarm (~85°F) water

· ½ cup all purpose flour

· 1 tbsp (approx. 1 packet) active dry yeast

· 1 tbsp sugar

Bao Dough:

· ¾ cup all purpose flour

· ¾ cup low gluten (cake) flour

· 2 tsp baking powder, divided into two sections

· ½ tsp salt

· 2 tbsp sugar

· 1 tbsp oil

· ½ cup (~85°F) water (or a little more or a little less depending on the brand and ratio of flour you use)


· ½ lb ground pork

· ½ medium onion, minced

· 1 dozen quail eggs

· 2 Chinese sausages, sliced

· 6 shiitake mushrooms

· 1 tsp each: sesame oil, salt, pepper, sugar, oyster sauce, mushroom seasoning (or any msg substitute)

· 1.5 tbsp water

· 2 tbsp tapioca starch (can substitute with corn starch)


Starter Dough:

· Add all together in a big bowl and mix until well blended

· Let the starter dough rise for an hour (again, I like to heat up the oven for about 2 minutes and then turn it off to create a good environment for the yeast to do its work, and place the bowl of dough inside to rise)

Bao Dough + Filling:

· To the starter dough, add the flour, 1 tsp baking powder, salt, sugar and oil and mix

· Slowly add the water and knead the dough. Once all the water is added, knead the dough for about 5 minutes until it is smooth.

· Let the dough rise (see starter dough for instructions on best location for productive yeast) for 3 hours

· While waiting for the dough to rise, mix all the ingredients, except for the quail eggs, together in a bowl. Divide the meat mixture evenly into 12 portions. Take each portion and flatten it. Place a quail egg in the middle and wrap the meat around it so that the egg is in the center of the sphere. Set the filling aside.

· Add 1 tsp baking powder to the dough and mix gently but evenly.

· Roll the dough into a log and cut out 12 even pieces of dough. Place back into the bowl and cover to keep from getting hard.

· Take one piece of dough and roll it out flat into a 5” by 5” circle. Place the meat filling ball in the center and start folding the dough toward the center top of the meat filling in one direction. Pinch the top and twist so that the filling is not exposed. Pat the pinched top down so it does not protrude too much. Cover these buns so it does not get hard. Repeat with the other 11 pieces of dough and filling.

· Let the buns, covered, rise for another 45 minutes.


· While the buns are rising, start the steamer so that the water boils.

· Add the buns to the steamer. In the steamer, make sure the buns have at least 2 additional inches of free space around the bun for expansion.

· Steam for 15 minutes on medium-low heat.

· These buns can be eaten right away or let cooled and stored in a air-tight zip-lock bag for up to 1.5 weeks.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Bánh Củ Cải (Turnip Cake)

I never miss a chance to get these at dim sum places... they are so good! However, I sometimes get cravings for them, but not for everything dim sum entails, so I just make them. Hope you enjoy!

Bánh Củ Cải (Turnip Cake)
Savor. Devour.


· 1 cup rice flour

· 2 tbsp tapioca starch

· 1.5 cups water

· ¼ cup dried shrimp, soaked in water for two hours and coarsely minced (I usually just take a handful, no need for exact measurements)

· 1 Chinese sausage link, washed and coarsely minced (I wash these sausages by soaking them for a minute under really hot water)

· 2 fried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in water for two hours and coarsely minced

· 1.5 cups grated daikon radish

· 1.5 tsp salt, 1.5 tsp pepper, a pinch of sugar

· ¼ cup chopped green onions

· ¼ cup minced onion bulb

· Dipping: 2 tbsp soy sauce + 2 tsp vinegar + optional rooster chili paste


· In a hot pan with a tsp of oil, add the onion, mushroom, Chinese sausage, and dried shrimp. Fry for a minute or two, then add the grated daikon. Season.

· In a bowl, add the flour and starch. Mix well with 3/4 cup cold water. Add in ¾ cup hot water and mix well.

· Add the fried ingredients into the flour mixture and mix well. Pour into a steamable pan of some sort. I use a casserole dish.

· Steam on medium heat for 45 minutes, opening the lid to let the air out for a few seconds every ten minutes.

· Let the turnip cake cool. You can continue to the next step or store it in your fridge for up to 4 days.

· When you are ready to eat it, cut it into 3 inch by 3 inch squares and fry them with a drizzle of oil. Serve with the dipping sauce.

Purple Yam Sweet Milk Bread

I love purple yams. They are slightly sweeter than their yellow/beige cousin and are a beautiful deep purple. I had an excess of them at home and eating too much boiled yams get tiring, even if it is delicious. Also, my mom has been pestering me to make a menu for the Lunars New Years gathering at my house, so I figured I might as well make sweet bread, a good-luck food, for the little kids who aren't fully accustomed to some Vietnamese foods yet. It turned out pretty well! I love the tangzhong method (see here for more details), it works every time.

Purple Yam Sweet Milk Bread
Savor. Devour.


· 1.5 cups all purpose flour

· ½ cup mashed purple yams

· Tangzhong (please refer to my Chinese Milk Bread post for detailed methods on how to make this)

· 2 tbsp sugar (Add 1 more tbsp if you like sweeter breads. I’m not too big a fan of sweets)

· 1.5 tsp yeast

· ½ tsp salt

· 1 cup warm milk

· 1 egg, beaten (for the finishing brush before baking)


· Add all dry ingredients and the tangzhong in a dough mixer/processor bowl. Mix for 5 minutes until the purple yam paste is well integrated with the flour.

· Slowly add milk and knead for another 30 minutes.

· Let the dough proof for two hours or until it doubles in size. I usually pre-heat an oven for a minute and turn it off. The oven should be moderately warm (but not too hot). I put my bowl of dough in there to rise because it is optimal temperature for the yeast to do its job.

· Shape the dough as you please. When I made this, I braided the dough. You could easily just roll the dough into four balls and put it into a greased bread pan to make rolls. Be careful though because the dough is wet. Have extra all purpose flour ready, and be sure to dust your hands with it to keep the dough from sticking. Put this shaped dough into a greased pan (I use Pam baking spray, but olive oil also works well).

· Let the dough rise again for an hour.

· Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

· Brush the dough with an egg wash and bake for 20 minutes, until golden.