Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Steamed Buns in Zurich

I know I've said it before, but I'm really loving trying new recipes out here. Especially since Grandma (my mom) is here to play with the kids. It's definitely a lot easier to cook something new when you don't have kiddos hanging on you wanting your attention at the exact moment you are supposed to be doing 5 things at once.

I tried making these steamed buns for a few reasons.
1. Hubby likes them.
2. Thought I could entice my toddler to try something new by calling them rolls.
3. Dim Sum is expensive here, so this is a good option
4. Mom is here to watch the kids so I can try a different version of this recipe.
5. I wanted to because the site I found them on made them sound fantastic!

Back when I had first gotten my Complete Chinese Cookbook, I was thrilled that everything in it turned out so wonderfully (including tonight's dinner, but will post that later).  I was shocked that my steamed buns turned out so poorly.  They weren't awful, but they weren't great.  Hoisin sauce did a lot to help them. They never really grew, and they were a bit heavy. Useful as rocks probably :-)  Luckily, I had enough yeast and flour and alternate recipes to try again.  Those turned out slightly better, but still never really fluffed up.  The dough rose in both cases while it was sitting in the bowl, but not in the steamer.  Of course, I could possibly blame the kids for them, as once again I was a human jungle gym, but then again, perhaps not.

The filling I used in my first attempt, was from the website I linked above.  It was the only good part of the buns. I also filled some with my chicken fried rice that I'd made the night before just for fun, they didn't turn out too bad, but I don't know if it was the filling or the bun that was the problem there....  Anyway, this weekend I tried to make them one last time. And now...I'm hooked!  These were great. They actually doubled in size in the steamer like they were supposed to! The only thing, they're not perfectly shaped as I can't get the crimping down right. Mine have more of a braided look. And they didn't stay white. I think the dough got a bit thin as I was rolling it to save time (rather than pressing). So they have a lovely marbled look. But the texture was good, and the taste was better (they're even good cold for breakfast the next day), so I think all in all, it was a definite win!

You do need to give yourself some time before you want to cook them though as you need to let them rise for about 2-3 hours. Otherwise, making the dough and the filling won't take any longer than anything else.

What you need:

Either 20.4g of cake yeast or 6.4g of the packaged yeast (or 1 Tbls of active dry yeast). I used the 6.4g dried yeast available in Migros and had better luck than with the cake yeast.
About 300ml of warm water (added slowly so you may not need as much)
4 cups flour
2 Tbls sugar
1 tsp baking powder - I added this after kneading for a while and then kneading again.
1 tsp salt.

For the filling
300-350g ground pork
1/2 cup chopped Chinakohl (Chinese Cabbage)
1/4-1/2 cup green onions
2 Tbls (low sodium) soy sauce
1 Tbls seasame oil
1 Tbls dry sherry

Extra sesame oil for coating the bowl
Steamer (if you don't have a bamboo one, you can use one of the fold-open metal veggie steamers)
Baking (or wax) paper - cut these into squares to place your buns on while cooking.

To make the buns, mix the flour, sugar, salt and dry yeast together. A little at a time, add the warm water until it forms one large, slightly sticky, ball.  Put some flour on a work surface, and knead the ball for 2-3 minutes. Flatten it out and add the baking powder. Knead about 5-6 more minutes, until the dough is smooth. I probably should have kneaded it a bit longer, but there were no bits flaking off and my hands were tired, so I stopped here.

Pour some sesame oil into your bowl and swirl it around to coat.  Put your kneaded dough in the bowl and flip it around a few times to coat. Then place some plastic wrap or a towel on top and place it in a warm place and let it double in size. About 2-3 hours. Mine sat for 3 hours.
While the dough is rising, you can prepare the filling so that it is ready to go.  First, thinly slice your scallions. 
 Second, thinly slice your cabbage
 Finally, add the ground pork and liquids.  Mix well and put in the fridge.
You could probably use whatever veggies you have - bean sprouts, water chestnuts, bok choy...I'm looking forward to experimenting with these. 

After your dough has risen, roll it out and then slice it in to sections, I made 16 and ended up with enough filling to have made 17. 

Press out one of the portions into a circle. You can do this by hand, or use a small rolling pin. The goal is to have the edges slightly thinner than the center. If you use a rolling pin (like I did this time) and roll it too thinly, your sauce will seep through a little. 
 Place about 1 1/2 tsp of filling in the center of the circle.  Then pinch the edges together at the top to make it look like a drawstring bag.  I couldn't get these to stick, so I pinched in the sides, alternating them, and ended up with a braided look.
You will need to have your baking (or wax) paper squares ready to set your buns on.  Turn them seam side down so that the top is smooth. 

If you make larger buns, and use a lot of filling, you will need to precook the meat as the steaming may not cook it through all the way. However, doing it as described above, the steaming is plenty to cook the meat, so add it raw. 

Place the buns in your steamer.  Make sure there is room around them to allow for expansion.  I was able to put 3 buns on each layer.  Put some water in a pan (I used a wok) and make sure the level is below that of your lowest buns. Turn the heat to high and cook for 15 minutes (keep an eye on your water level as you may need to add a bit more) Be careful lifting the steamer out, and allow them to sit for a few minutes before removing.  

I served the buns with rice, the rest of the cabbage cooked with some soy sauce, and hoisin sauce. Hope you enjoy! (sorry for the bad picture - had been planning to take another with better light but forgot). 
The nice thing about these is that you can reheat them and they taste just as good, or you can eat them cold.
If you are making plain steamed buns to add bbq pork to, you can also get creative and turn them into little animal shapes (like with the Zopf bread)

No comments:

Post a Comment