we just got a bamboo steamer and didn't want to waste any time putting it to work. the original plan was dumplings and buns but, unfortunately, egg-free dumpling wrappers were nowhere to be found. but that's no problem, it just meant two different kinds of buns! and you can never have too many buns, right?
this was my first attempt at steamed buns and i think it went well for the most part. the dough was exactly what i wanted...not too thick and not too heavy, just a nice light compliment to the fillings. the first filling is an earthy tvp (that would be textured vegetable protein) and shiitake mixture, the second is a bright and fresh asparagus one.
as i said, these were a success but that's not to say i didn't learn a few things for my next bun-making venture. one of those lessons would be, don't crowd the steamer! i put 12 in at a time and they really did look like they had plenty of growing room. however when they were done steaming and i took the top off we had a lovely bunch of pull-apart-style steamed buns. that's ok though. the bigger lesson? if you don't have enough room for them all to rise at the same time in the steamer, don't leave the second batch to rise on a baking sheet covered with a damp kitchen towel. the towel will not stay damp and will stick to the top of your buns turning your second batch of buns into a free-form steamed mass of dough and filling. still tasty i'm sure but certainly not something that you can still claim as a bun.
now with that in mind, on to the recipes!
tvp and shiitake filling
1/2 cup tvp
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons scallions, minced
4 tablespoons shiitakes, minced
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
mix the tvp and water to reconstitute. add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. set aside.
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
12 ounces fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 8-ounce can water chestnuts, drained
3 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
place the ginger and garlic in a food processor, and mince. add asparagus and the rest of the ingredients, adding in batches if necessary, and pulse until the ingredients are finely chopped but not pureed. set aside.
steamed bun dough
(makes 24 buns)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
lettuce or cabbage leaves, for lining steamer tray
dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup warm water. Add 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/4 cup flour, and stir to mix well. allow to stand for 30 minutes until bubbly.
mix in remaining warm water, remaining flour and sugar, salt, and vegetable oil. knead until dough surface is smooth and elastic (i used my stand mixer with dough hook for this). roll over in a greased bowl, and let stand until tripled in size, about 2 1/2 hours.
punch down dough, and spread out on a floured board. sprinkle baking powder evenly on surface, and knead for 5 minutes. divide dough into 2 parts, and place the piece you are not working with in a covered bowl. form each half into a log about 2 inches thick. cut logs into 12 1-inch pieces and roll each into a ball. cover with a damp towel.
working with 1 piece of dough at a time, press into a thin disc shape. place about 1 tablespoon of filling in center, and then gather up edges and twist to seal, using some extra drops of water to stick together as needed. cover with a damp kitchen towel and repeat with remaining dough.
line bamboo steamer tray with lettuce or cabbage leaves. place buns, sealed side down, in bamboo steamer tray and let rise for 45 minutes (careful not to crowd them). meanwhile, heat water to boiling in a wok or pot to a level just below the bamboo steamer.
place bamboo steamer in wok and steam buns for 20 to 25 minutes, and then remove from heat.
i made a simple dipping sauce of soy sauce, a little water, a little garlic and a bit of hot chili oil.