Chines Pao, or bāo zǐ in Chinese, are found all over China. It is a staple food for the wheat-eating North and maybe eaten as part of breakfast or snack in South. There’s a knack to wrapping bao zi, It is easier to watch a video on Youtube rather than follow the printed page. Once you’ve grasped technique, you may find it easy, and even therapeutic.
Yields about 36 Buns,
- 600g plain flour 中筋面粉
- 1.5 tablespoon yeast酵母
- 3 tablespoons lukewarm water (40°C)
- 300g water in room temperature
- 300g ground pork
- 300g Napa cabbage, minced
- 1 tablespoon ginger (minced) 姜末
- 2/3 to 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce 生抽
- 1/2 tablespoon dark soy sauce (optional)
- 1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine料酒
- 2 teaspoons caster sugar 白糖
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil 香油
- 1/3 teaspoon white pepper 白胡椒粉
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil (optional)
- Resolve the yeast in a two-tablespoon lukewarm water in 40℃. Place the flour, baking powder and resolved yeast in a mixing bowl and gradually add in the 300g water. Use your fingers to bring the mixture together and make a dough. Knead the dough for about 6 minutes till it is smooth. Cover the bowl with a plastic bag or kitchen towel. Rest for 20-30 minutes till the dough rises and doubles in size.
- Now make the filling. Finely chopped napa cabbage, add a pinch of salt. In five minutes later, you will see the cabbage become ‘watery’. Use your both hands to squeeze the water out. Then mix it with ground pork and other filling ingredients.
- To make the wrappers, cut the dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll one piece into a long cylinder, then cut off 12-13 pieces of dough the size of walnuts, about 30g each. Dust them lightly with flour. Stand them cut-side up and press down them into discs with the palm of your hand. Roll each disc into a circle about 9cm in diameter – edges are thinner than center.Now let’s assemble to make the buns (Paos), place a wrapper in one hand, put a tablespoon of the filling(25-30g) in the center of the wrapper. Use your other hand to pinch the edge of the dough to enclose the filling. Fold the edges to the center around the filling while twisting so the bun is completed sealed.
- Place all the buns in a steamer basket – make sure there is space between them, as they will expand.
- Fill a steamer pot or wok with water from tap. Place onto the stack of bamboo baskets or any the stainless steamer basket you would have. Cover the steamer. Turn to the high heat and cook for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat. Don’t open the lid yet. Let it rest for 5 minutes then open the lid. Ready to serve.