Monday, March 3, 2014

包子Bao zi-Steamed Bread with Cabbage Pork Filling

I struggled for a long time (years) to get the dough right for baozi. I fell in love with baozi in Taiwan, man are the baozi there good, and I wanted to get the same texture and mouth feel.

Something I have been noticing lately as I become more and more familiar with Chinese vs. Taiwanese recipes is that Taiwanese take traditional Chinese cooking methods and then mix in french cooking techniques like adding cream and butter. Taiwanese red bean paste is loaded with butter and cream which is not the case in China. Another thing I have noticed, a difference between western leavened breads and Asian is they add both baking powder and yeast. I just love the texture this techniques achieves. I think it was finally a Taiwanese cooking show I found online that helped me to fix what was missing. These are just like I remember them being when I ate them in Taiwan. I am just so happy with them. I hope your families enjoy them as much as we do.

Starter Dough
1 1/4 cups warm milk or water
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast or 2 tsp. instant yeast
2 cups all purpose flour

Sweet Dough
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. lard, shortening or oil

1 Tbsp. baking powder mixed with 1 Tbsp. water

Make the Starter Dough
Dissolve yeast in 1 1/4 cup warm milk or water and set aside 10 minutes or until frothy.  Mix 2 cups all-purpose flour and yeast milk, cover and let rest 4-6 hours. This process is not necessary if you don't have the time, but if you do it adds extra softness and depth of flavor to the dough.

Make the Sweet Dough

Mix the starter dough with the remaining sweet dough ingredients except for the lard.

Knead until the dough is no longer sticky. The texture should be tacky but not sticky. depending on your climate you may have to add more or less liquid. I live in a high altitude, dry climate.

This is what I mean by tacky
When you poke your finger into the dough it will stick to your finger enough to pull back out and not leave an indentation.

But see here how almost as soon as my finger has passed the surface of the dough it lets go. You will also hear a sound like that made when you play with tack.

Knead the lard into the dough until the dough becomes soft, smooth and not sticky.

Mix 1 Tbsp. baking powder with 1 Tbsp. water. Pour over the dough and mix evenly throughout the dough.

The dough is now ready to use!

2 lbs. ground pork
6-8 cups chopped cabbage (I like Napa or Savory cabbage for it's soft texture)
2 leeks or 3 bundles green onion , finely chopped
2 eggs
2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp. grated ginger with juice (on lazy days I just add 1 Tbsp. ground ginger)
1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
1/2 Tbsp. chili powder (I use paprika)
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. Chinese cooking wine

Ginger Broth
1-2 cup chicken broth
3-4 inch knob of ginger

Prepare the Ginger Broth

Smash a 3-4 inch piece of ginger with the back of a clever to get the juices flowing. Place in 1-2 cups chicken broth and let sit 1-2 hours.

Prepare the Vegetables

 Chop the cabbage and leek or green onion.
 Heat 2 Tbsp. sesame oil and pour over the vegetables.
 Mix the oil into the vegetables until it evenly coats the vegetables and set aside.

Prepare the Baozi Filling

Combine 1 lb. ground pork, 1 eggs, 1 tsp. salt, 2 Tbsp. soy sauce, 1 Tbsp. grated ginger with juice (on lazy days I just add 1 Tbsp. ground ginger), 3 cloves chopped garlic, 1 tsp. chili powder,1 Tbsp. sugar and 1 Tbsp. Chinese cooking wine. Stir in a clockwise direction until it starts to look gluey. This takes about a minute of stirring. Add the 1 cup chicken broth a little at a time, stirring after each addition until well incorporated. 

Note: If this is your first time making baozi then I advise you start with 1 cup chicken broth. The technique of adding chicken broth to the filling makes it soft and juicy as well as causing  a sauce to form inside the bun as it cooks. The more chicken broth you add the juicier and more saucy the filling will be but this type of filling is also quite difficult to wrap. If you have already tried a few times and are feeling comfortable with it then increase it to 2 cups. 

Mix the cabbage and onion into the filling, stirring in a clockwise direction until well incorporated. Place in the fridge to chill for one hour to cause the filling to become firmer and easier to work with.Chill the filling in the refrigerator until firm. This will make it easier to wrap.

Portion the dough into approximately 1.3 oz. pieces for small baozi and 2 oz. for large Baozi.

Roll out the dough into a three inch circle, making the edge thinner than the middle. Place 2-3 Tbsp. filling in the center. This YouTube Video show how roll out the skins.

 Fold the dough as demonstrate in this video.

It should look like this.
Place pieces of parchment paper into a steamer. Place baozi  in the steamer leaving room for them to expand. Steam for 10 minutes over water that is at a rolling boil. Don't remove the lid of the steamer until you are ready to eat.

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