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Steamed Pork Buns (Banh Bao)

Steamed Pork Bun (Banh Bao) -- fluffy, doughy bun with a savory filling...now that's comfort food! | recipe from runawayrice.comI think I’ve discovered one of the most universally appealing snacks.  While working on this post, I was searching for a few alternative names for this fluffy, steamed bun filled with savory meats.  To my pleasant surprise, I learned these delectable buns are quite well-loved in Asian cuisine and are known by many different names.  Here are just a few: Bao, Bau, Tai Pao (Cantonese), Baozi (Mandarin), Nikuman (Japanese), Siopao (Filipino), Salapao (Sino-Thai) and Jjinpang Mandu (Korean).  (If you know this dish by another name, do share!)

Call it what you will, for me these sweet and savory buns are all about comfort food and childhood memories.  I remember my Mom filling my little hands with one of these piping-hot buns as a child.  I recall relishing the taste of the soft, slightly sweet dough in perfect contrast to the savory ground pork and Chinese sausage.  The hard-boiled egg was always my favorite–I’d eat that right away and then nibble my way around the rest of the bun…Yum!  Even today, these buns are still a special treat for me.  No doubt, they take a bit of time to make but I enjoy the entire process.  Now, my favorite part is watching my family and friends devour them….I think my Mom was on to something!

Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks

Always use fresh active dry yeast.  If it’s close to the expiration date, don’t use it.  Unless you cook with yeast often, avoid buying the larger quantities of yeast in the jars.  Buy the single-use packages instead.  They will stay fresher longer.

The temperature of the milk should be warm around 105-110 degrees Fahrenheit.  If the milk is too hot it will kill the yeast.

For proofing the dough, the oven should be approximately 100 degrees.  Covering the dough with a kitchen towel prevents circulating air from affecting the dough as it rises.  It also helps to keep the temperature constant.

The dough should approximately double in size after the resting period.  If it hasn’t double in size after 1 hour, let it rest for awhile longer until it has doubled in size.

When steaming the buns:  to prevent the moisture in the lid from dripping onto the buns, one trick to try is to wrap the lid with a kitchen towel.  Otherwise, wipe the lid twice as I showed in the video.  When removing the lid, do it in a quick motion and try not to drip any of the water onto the buns.  If you see shiny blisters on the buns, this is from dripping water.

If you have time, steam the buns in a single layer rather than a double layer.  This way the buns will steam evenly.  Alternatively, you can rotate the trays about halfway through the steaming process.

Don’t skip the part about adding vinegar to the water pan.  I promise the buns won’t smell like vinegar.  The vinegar helps to keep the buns a nice, bright color.

Watch the video below for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also like: Hot Pastry Pie (Pate Chaud) or Sticky Rice and Mung Bean Dumplings (Banh Khuc).

Ingredients

for the Dough
1 cup milk
1 tsp sugar
1 packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
2 cups cake flour
1 cup bread flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp vegetable oil

for the Filling
1 lb ground pork (or any ground meat of your choice)
1/2 cup yellow onions, finely chopped
1/3 cup woodear mushrooms, finely chopped
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp cornstarch

3 Chinese sausage links
3 large eggs or 12 quail eggs hard-boiled

Other Items
12 cupcake liners or 3-inch parchment/wax paper circles
1/4 cup white vinegar

Directions

Preheat oven to 150-170 degrees Fahrenheit.  When it comes to temperature, turn off the oven.

Warm the milk in the microwave for 30 seconds, 45 seconds if the milk is cold.  Add 1/2 tsp sugar and active dry yeast to the warmed milk.  Stir together for 1 minute.  Let the mixture rest for 10 minutes until foamy.

In a mixing bowl, combine the bread flour and cake flour.  Take 1 Tbsp of the flour mixture and combine with the baking powder.  Set aside for now.  Add the remaining sugar to the flour mixture and stir together.  Stir the milk and yeast mixture and add to the mixing bowl along with the vegetable oil.  Use a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment to combine the ingredients.  Mix on Low speed for 2 minutes.  Increase the speed to Medium Low and mix for another 2 minutes.  Add the flour and baking powder mixture prepared earlier and mix for another minute.

Remove the dough from the stand mixer and gently knead by hand for 2-3 minutes.  Place dough into a large bowl.  Coat the dough with a thin layer of vegetable oil.  Cover bowl with a large kitchen towel and then place into the warm oven.  Let the dough rest for 1 hour.

In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the filling (except the sausage and eggs).   Roll into 12 balls.

Lightly flour the work surface.  Gently knead the dough for a few minutes.  Divide the dough and then roll into 12 even-sized balls.  Cover the dough balls with a damp paper towel and let them rest for 10 minutes.

Cut each hard-boiled egg into 4 pieces.  Cut each Chinese sausage link into 12 thin slices at a diagonal.  Set aside for now.

Generously flour the work surface again.  Take one of the dough balls and flatten to a 5-inch circle using a rolling pin.  Flatten the edge of the circle so it’s thinner than the middle.  Place the dough on the work surface.  On top of the dough add 2 slices of sausage and then the filling ball.  Top with one piece of egg and another sausage slice.  Pleat the dough around the bun while pinching it together at the top making sure to cover the filling completely.  Twist the top of the bun to secure it.  Pat the bun to round out the shape.  Place the bun on the cupcake/muffin liner.  Continue making the buns until all 12 are made.  Place the buns into the steamer trays making sure to leave about 1-inch between each bun.

Prepare the steamer by filling the bottom basin halfway with water.  Add 1/4 cup white vinegar to the water and then bring to a rapid boil over High heat.  Add the steamer trays.  Wipe the moisture from the lid before replacing.  Lower the heat to Medium High and steam the buns for 10 minutes.  Carefully remove the lid and wipe out the moisture again.  Cover and continue steaming for another 10 minutes.  (Total steaming time is 20 minutes.)

Remove the buns from steamer.  Allow to cool slightly before enjoying.

These buns can be reheated in a steamer or microwave.  To warm in a microwave, wrap a bun in a moistened paper towel and cook on High for 1 minute.

Store any uneaten buns in the refrigerator.  They are best if consumed within the week.  The steamed buns can be frozen for up to 2 months.

Yields:  12 buns

Tools I Love and Use in My Kitchen

Hearty and delicious Steamed Pork Buns | recipe from runawayrice.com*This post contains affiliate links.*

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Won Ton Noodle Soup (Mi Hoanh Thanh)

Won Ton Noodle Soup (Mi Hoanh Thanh) | recipe from runawayrice.comAs the weather cools I gravitate toward soupy dishes and my favorite soups always have lots of noodles like this delicious Won Ton Noodle Soup.  The soup is quite eclectic with its variety of ingredients.  It has hearty meat-filled dumplings, savory roast pork, succulent shrimp, leafy greens, oodles of egg noodles, sprigs of fresh herbs and a sautéed garlic topping to add the right amount of spice.  (Are you drooling yet?)  This belly warming dish is a great meal to make when you have leftover roast pork as  you don’t need much for this recipe.  As for the home-made won tons, with practice, you’ll get really good and can wipe out 16 of these dumplings in a matter of minutes.  If you don’t have time to make the garlic topping, you can buy it at your Asian grocer.  (This topping is fantastic to have around and adds wonderful taste and texture to soups and stir fry.)  You can’t go wrong with this one-bowl wonder!  Enjoy!

Watch the video below for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also like: Vermicelli Soup with Chicken, Steamed Pork Roll and Egg (Bun Thang) and Thick Noodles and Fish Cake Soup (Banh Canh Cha Ca).

Ingredients

for the Won Ton
1/4 lb ground pork
6-size 31/40 shrimp, cleaned and deveined
2 Tbsp finely minced onions
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 Tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
16 pieces won ton wrapper

for the Noodle Soup
14 oz package won ton noodles (thin egg noodles)
3-14.5 oz cans chicken broth
2 cups water
1 tsp salt (to taste)
1/2 sweet onion, quartered
8-size 31/40 shrimp, cleaned and deveined, tail on
8-10 sprigs chives, washed and cut into 2-inch sections
4 bunches baby bok choy, washed

for the Garlic Topping
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp vegetable oil

Serve with
3-4 oz roast pork
2 tsp sesame oil

Directions

Making the Noodles

Remove noodle bundles from packaging and place in a large colander.  Use your fingers to loosen the strands.

Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil.  Drop the noodles into the water.  Stir the noodles in the hot water and cook it for just 1 minute.

Pour the cooked noodles into a large colander and rinse several times with cool water to stop the cooking process.

Toss the noodles in the colander multiple times and remove as much of the remaining water as possible.  Place a piece of paper towel on a large plate.  Spread the noodles evenly on the plate and allow to air dry.

Making the Won Ton

Cut the shrimp into thin slices.   Add shrimp to the pork along with all seasonings.  Mix everything together combining all ingredients well.

Take a won ton wrapper and place it on a cutting board with one of the corners pointed toward you.  Place approximately 1/2 tablespoon of filling in the center of the wrapper.  Dip your finger in water and run it along the top edges of the wrapper.  Take the corner closest to you and fold it over, lining up the edges to form a triangle.  Gently press your fingers along the edges to seal the wrapper.

With your index finger, gently push up at the center point of the won ton making  a small indentation.  Dip a your finger in water and dab the right corner of the won ton.  Now pull the 2 corners together so the wrapper overlaps.  Pinch the wrapper together to seal.  Continue making the won tons until all of the filling is used.

Bring a large pot of water to a gentle boil.  Drop the dumplings into the hot water, a few at a time.  Gently stir the won ton making sure they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot.  Cook the dumplings for 5 minutes stirring occasionally.  Don’t allow the water to boil too rapidly or the dumplings will break.   Use a slotted spoon to remove the dumplings and place into a colander.  Allow to drain.

Making the Garlic Topping

Add minced garlic and oil to small skillet.  Saute the garlic over medium high heat until it’s golden brown–approximately 2-3 minutes.

Making the Soup

Add chicken broth, water and onions into a stockpot.  Cover pot and bring the broth to a boil.  Turn the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove the onions and discard.  Taste the broth and add more salt if desired.  Add the bok choy and cook for 1 minute.  Turn off the heat and add the shrimp.

To serve, add a generous amount of noodles into a bowl.  Drizzle 1/2 tsp of sesame oil on the noodles.  Add the won tons, roast pork, bok choy, shrimp and fresh chives to the bowl.  Ladle a generous amount of broth filling the bowl.  Spoon a bit of the garlic topping.  Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.  Enjoy while hot!

Yields: 4 servings

*This post contains affiliate links.*

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Sticky Rice and Mung Bean Dumplings (Banh Khuc)

There is nothing more satisfying than these savory steamed dumplings filled with mung bean, ground chicken and covered with sticky rice.  In Viet cuisine we use a lot of glutinous/sticky rice which gives foods that chewy, sticky consistency and it is a texture that I crave often.  It’s pure comfort food!  These dumplings are a bit time-consuming to make but they are so worth the effort.  Typically when I make these, I double the recipe.  Yes, this makes a lot of dumplings.  But another great thing about these dumplings is they freeze nicely and so I can enjoy them whenever the cravings hit.  When reheating, I just sprinkle the dumpling with a bit of water and then pop into the microwave for a few minutes.

In this recipe, I share a shortcut for making the mashed mung beans using a rice cooker.  The traditional way of making these beans is to steam and then put them through a potato ricer.  It’s much easier and faster to cook the beans in the rice cooker.  A few notes:  When cooking mung beans the water tends to bubble out of the rice cooker so put a tray or thick towel underneath the rice cooker to catch any spillage.  Also make sure you unplug the rice cooker right after the button pops up so the beans don’t burn and stick to the bottom.

Watch the video below for instructions.

Ingredients

for the Dumpling:
2 1/2 cups sticky rice (also called glutinous or sweet rice) + 1/2 tsp salt
1-8 oz package frozen chopped spinach
1 1/2 cups water
1-16 oz bag glutinous rice flour
2 Tbsp rice flour
1 Tbsp canola oil

for the Filling:
1 cup peeled split  mung bean
1/2  tsp salt
1 1/2 cups water

1 tsp oil
1/4 cup finely diced onions
1/2 lb ground chicken
1 tsp fish sauce
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 tsp water

Directions

Put the mung bean and rice into individual bowls.  Rinse each several times until the water is clear and soak overnight.

In a large bowl, add frozen chopped spinach plus 1 cup water.  Microwave spinach on high for 5 minutes.  Remove from microwave and stir spinach breaking up any remaining frozen chunks.  Add the remaining 1/2 cup water and stir together.  Remove any large spinach stems and discard.  Add both kinds of rice flours and oil.  Mix until flour is all incorporated.  Then knead for another 2 minutes forming a soft sticky dough.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 2 hours.

Rinse the mung bean one more time and drain well.  Put the beans into the rice cooker.  Distribute the beans forming an even layer.  Add salt and water.  Cook until rice cooker button pops up, approximately 25 minutes.  Unplug the rice cooker right away.  Using a flat spoon, mash the beans until they are creamy and you no longer see the individual beans.  Cover and allow to cook for another 10 minutes.  Scoop out the mung bean and place in a bowl.

In a pan over medium heat, add oil and onions and cook for 30 seconds.  Add the ground chicken.  Break the chicken into little pieces while cooking.  Add fish sauce and black pepper.  We are only partially cooking the chicken so stir-fry for no more than 3 minutes.  Add the mung bean and combine with the chicken.  Add water and stir.  The filling should stick together at this point resembling a dough.  Remove from the heat.  Allow to cool slightly, approximately 5 minutes.  The filling is easier to roll when it’s still warm.  Use a tablespoon to scoop out the filling and roll into 20 golf-sized balls.  Wet your hands if they become sticky from rolling the balls.

Rinse the rice.  Use a colander to drain the rice well.  Sprinkle with salt and mix together.

Place steamer paper into the steamer tray or coat with vegetable oil or nonstick cooking spray.  Take 1/4 cup of sticky rice and spread a thin layer on the steamer paper.

Scoop approximately 2 tablespoons of dough and roll it between your palms and then flatten.  Place the filling ball in the middle and work the dough around the ball.  Roll between your palms several times forming a ball.  Roll the dumpling in the sticky rice until it’s evenly coated.   Place the ball into the steamer tray.  Continue until all dumplings are made.

Steam the dumplings.  After 15 minutes, spray the dumplings with a generous amount of water, flip them and then spray with water again.  Continue steaming for another 15 minutes.

Yields:  20 dumplings

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Sticky Rice Balls in Ginger Syrup (Che Troi Nuoc)

This warm dessert is by far one of my favorite treats.  The slightly chewy, sticky dough with its mealy bean filling and oh-so-sweet ginger syrup is a heavenly combination.  This decadently sweet dessert brings back fond childhood memories for me.  My Mom made this every year around Tet/Lunar New Year and since I had it just once a year, it was really special.  Even now, I hold-out and only make it once a year.  But seriously, I could eat this every day! 🙂

This recipe is really simple thanks to the aid of my rice cooker, a wonderful shortcut tool.  (I only drag out my big multi-tiered steamer when it’s absolutely needed.)  A lot of people ask me why I don’t roll all of the balls and then boil them instead of doing each one individually.  Answer:  I love to multi-task!  Ok, that’s true but the real answer is that this dough is too soft and sticky.  If you let the balls sit, they will ooze and lose their shape so it’s easier to roll one at a time and boil.  I share more tips below.  I hope you love this dessert as much as I do.  Enjoy!

Watch the video below for instructions.

Ingredients

Dough:
2 cups glutinous rice flour
3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp water

Filling:
1/3 cup dry peeled split mung bean = 1 cup hydrated beans
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp sugar

Ginger Syrup:
1-inch fresh ginger
1 cup brown sugar
3 cups water

Coconut Sauce:
1-5.6 oz can coconut milk
1/2 can water
1 Tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 Tbsp tapioca starch + 2 Tbsp water

Directions

Rinse mung beans several times with water and soak beans overnight.

In a large bowl combine flour and water and knead until a soft dough forms.  If the dough isn’t sticking together add 1 Tbsp of water at a time.  The dough should be soft and moist and resemble bread dough.   Knead dough for  2-3 minutes.   Wrap in plastic wrap and allow to rest on the counter.

Rinse and drain mung beans.  Put beans in the rice cooker along with salt.  Spread beans evenly on the bottom of cooker.  Add water.  Close rice cooker lid and set to cook.  As soon as the button on the rice cooker pops up (approximately 20 minutes), open lid.  Using a flat spoon, mash the beans until you no longer see the individual beans.  The beans should look like mashed potatoes.  Add sugar and combine well.  Scoop the mashed beans onto a plate and allow it to cool for 10 minutes.  It should still be warm for this next step.  Take 1 teaspoon of bean and roll it between your palms to form a ball.  Continue rolling until you run out of beans.  (Tip:  When your palms become sticky, rinse them with just a bit of water.)

Peel ginger and slice into 1/4-inch thick coins.  In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine water and brown sugar.  When the syrup just starts to boil, add ginger.  Cover pot, turn heat to low and let the syrup simmer on the back burner.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and then turn the heat down to medium.  Take 1 Tbsp of dough and flatten slightly to form a patty.  Place a mung bean ball in the center of the dough.  Gently work the dough around the bean ball.  Pinch dough together to seal.  Gently, roll the ball in the palm of your hand, lightly squeezing dough to form a ball shape.  Now roll the ball between the palms of your hands just a few times to finish off the shape.  (Tip:  You don’t want to use this motion the entire time for making the balls.  This introduces too much air and will cause the balls to explode when boiling.)  Gently drop the ball into the boiling water.  Continue rolling the balls.

When the balls float to the top, they are cooked.  Use a slotted spoon to scoop and transfer them into the ginger syrup.  Continue until all balls are rolled and cooked.  If you have any leftover dough, make little dough balls. (I love these!)  Once all balls are cooked, simmer in the ginger syrup for another 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix tapioca starch and water to form a gravy and set aside.  In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine coconut milk, water, sugar and salt.  Stir to combine.  When coconut milk just starts to bubble, add gravy and stir quickly for 2-3 minutes.  Once sauce thickens remove from heat.  (Tip:  Don’t let the coconut milk get too hot before you add the gravy or it will clump.  If this happens, you can strain the coconut sauce to remove the lumps.)

Serve this dessert warm topped with coconut sauce and sesame seeds.

Servings:  15 balls

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