The Rising Popularity of Baos
Baos, the Chinese steamed bun, have become increasingly popular in many restaurants. Baos can be eaten plain or with a sweet or savory filling. Some traditionally common fillings include Chinese bbq pork, red bean paste, or custard. However, the baos offered in restaurants have demonstrated that baos can be stuffed with anything! Dave and I recently tried out Shojo Restaurant in Boston’s Chinatown, whose dinner menu offers many different kinds of baos. Although their dinner menu changes, shrimp baos, shitake mushroom baos, pork baos, and even burger baos (a hamburger using a bao as the bun) have been offered before. We tried the pork baos and although we thought they were good, they were very pricey. Many of Shojo’s bao dishes which come with two baos cost $8-10+. I (Sharon) have always loved steamed buns and can’t recall any other time I’ve paid so much for any kind of bao in Chinatown. I recently had a craving for baos and since we didn’t want to pay the same prices as before, we decided to try to make our own today.
Making Our Own Baos
We followed this recipe with a few minor changes. We followed all the dough making steps until it was time for second proofing, the process of letting the dough rise. As we didn’t have a bamboo steamer, instead of proofing the dough in the steamer, we performed our second proofing on a baking tray as shown below. We flattened each round of dough on a piece of parchment paper and covered it with another baking sheet.
Here’s what the dough looked like after the second proofing.
Afterwards, it was time to steam the buns. We put the buns into our steamer pot. Here they are.
After 25 minutes, we took them out. However, as soon as we took them out, they shrank and had wrinkly skins! Some online resources mention that adding some fat such as oil and baking powder will help prevent the skins from becoming wrinkly, so we’ll keep that in mind for next time. Despite the look, I (Sharon) took a bite and they tasted just fine.
Homemade Pulled Pork Baos
We then sliced them hamburger-style and used them to make pulled pork sandwiches using some leftover homemade pulled pork from our freezer and some quick-pickled carrots and cucumber Dave made (similar to this recipe, but substituting cucumbers for the daikon and adding some ginger and raw garlic to the pickling liquid). They were delicious and we ended up having three sandwiches each. We still need to iron out the kinks with the wrinkly skins, but I’m excited that from now on, I can satisfy my bao cravings in our own kitchen! And if the post on baos has you craving them too, try making your own!