Mini Bok Choy & Shiitake Bao
Would you look at these beautiful little buns! We seasoned the bok choy, tofu, and shiitake filling with garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, and just a pinch of sugar — it’s so full of umami, so utterly delicious, you’ll want to eat it right out of the mixing bowl! Ahh, but it’s even better stuffed in a bao and dunked in chile oil. What a perfect bite: hello, comfort!
Made with a simple yeasted dough, the bao doesn’t have a ton of flavor on its own, but it makes up for that with its pillowy-soft texture — eating it is like biting through a bread cloud. It’s also super absorbent, an excellent vehicle for bringing the chile oil and filling together. So how does one achieve that all-important fluffiness? You temper the buns by leaving them in the bamboo basket for five minutes after they’ve steamed, which keeps them from cooling too quickly and deflating.
Our tip: If you’re cooking for one or two, you might want to put some of the cooked buns in the freezer. When you’re ready to eat them, just pop them in the microwave for 30 seconds. They make an amazing breakfast!
Yield: 16 buns
Mini Bok Choy & Shiitake Bao
To make the filling: Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil over medium high heat. Prepare an ice bath. Blanch the bok choy for about 30 seconds, until bright green and softened, and then use a large slotted spoon to transfer it to the ice bath and stop the cooking process.
Place the bok choy in a food processor and process until it’s finely chopped, about 15 seconds.
Transfer the bok choy to a sieve, add the tofu, and press out the excess water. Transfer the pressed tofu and bok choy to a medium bowl. Set aside.
In a wok, heat 1 ½ tablespoons of the oil over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook for about 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until browned. Remove the wok from the heat, cool the mushrooms completely, and add them to the bok choy.
Pour off any additional liquid in the bowl. Then add the remaining tablespoon of oil, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, white pepper, and salt. Mix well, cover with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.
To make the dough: In a small bowl, whisk together the water, yeast, and sugar until the yeast dissolves. Let sit until the yeast “blooms” and foams, about 10 minutes.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda. Add the yeast and oil and stir until combined.
Lightly dust your work surface with flour and knead the dough for 3 to 4 minutes, or until it becomes smooth and soft. The dough should be soft but not sticky. If the dough looks sticky, add flour 1 tablespoon at a time. If the dough feels dry, add a few drops of water at a time.
Grease a medium bowl with cooking spray, place the dough in it, and spray the dough lightly with cooking spray. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let the dough rest until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.
Punch the dough down to get rid of the air bubbles and then portion it into 16 dough balls. Cover them with a clean kitchen towel to prevent them from drying out.
Cut parchment paper into 16 3x3” squares and set aside.
Lightly flour your surface and roll out a dough ball, working from the edge to the center — so that the center is slightly thicker than the edges — and rotating frequently, until it forms a 4” circle.
Add about 2 tablespoons of filling to the center of the dough circle. Pull the edges of the dough up and over the filling. Use your thumb to push the filling down as you gather the edges into a pleat with your fingers to cover the filling. It may seem like a tight fit at first, but the dough will stretch as you pull it around the filling. Twist the top to seal the bun and pinch off any excess dough.
Set the bun on a piece of the prepared parchment paper and place it in a steamer tray lined with parchment. Repeat steps 12 and 13 until all the buns are assembled.
Place the bamboo steamer with the buns above a large pot of water and cover with the lid. Rest the buns for about 20 minutes.
Heat the water over high heat until it starts to boil and steam, reduce the heat to medium, and steam the buns for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off, keep the cover on the steamer, and let the buns rest for 5 minutes.
Enjoy immediately with chile oil, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
Recipe adapted from: Woks of Life