One of my first ever posts was a recipe for Char Sui Chicken Steamed Buns. I have recently rediscovered my love for real authentic Chinese cuisine, especially dim sum. This is an alternative take on a steamed bun with a full flavoured, spicy mushroom filling encased by pillow-soft dough.
For the dough:
- 1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 cup lukewarm water (just warm to the touch)
- 2 Tablespoons canola oil
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
For the filling:
- 250g fresh shitake mushrooms
- 250g fresh chestnut mushrooms
- 1 tsp oil
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- A knob of ginger, grated
- ½ onion, finely chopped
- 1 tsp curry powder
- ¼ tsp turmeric
- 1 Tbsp Soy sauce
- 100ml approx. Beef stock
- Cornflour slurry (1 tsp cornflour mixed with 1-2 tsp water)
- Fresh ground black pepper
- A handful of frozen peas
- The dough: Put the yeast in a small bowl, add the water and set aside for 1 minute to proof.
- Whisk in the oil to blend and dissolve the yeast. Set aside.
- Combine the sugar, baking powder and flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast mixture. Slowly stir with a wooden spoon, moving from the centre toward the rim, to work in all the flour. (Add lukewarm water by the teaspoon if this doesn’t happen with relative ease.) Keep stirring as a ragged, soft mass forms. Then use your fingers to gather and pat the dough together into a ball. Transfer to a work surface and knead for about 5 minutes, until smooth, fingertip-soft and slightly elastic. (You shouldn’t need any additional flour on the work surface if the dough was properly made. Keep kneading, and after the first minute or two, the dough shouldn’t stick to your fingers. If it does, work in a sprinkling of flour.) Press your finger into the dough; the dough should spring back, with a faint indentation remaining.
- Lightly oil a clean bowl and add the dough.
- Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm, draft-free place to rise until nearly doubled, 30-45 minutes (timing will vary depending on the temperature of the room). The dough is now ready to use. If not using immediately, cover and refrigerate the dough until needed.
- The filling: While the dough is rising, gently fry the onion, garlic and ginger in the oil in a wok until softened. Roughly chop the mushrooms and add to the wok. Fry for a couple of minutes to soften then add the spices and soy sauce.
- Stir everything to combine then add the beef stock. Add the cornflour slurry and mix well. The mushroom mix should be quite thick. Add more beef stock if you think it is too thick. Add the peas and season with pepper. Stir everything to combine then transfer to a bowl to cool.
- Assemble: Transfer the dough to a very lightly floured work surface, gather it into a ball and then pat it to flatten it into a thick disk.
- Cut the disk in half and keep the second half covered to prevent it from drying out.
- Roll the first half into a 12” log and then cut it crosswise into 8 even pieces.
- Flatten one piece of dough into a ¼” thick disk, moistening your hands with a little water if the dough becomes too dry.
- Use an Asian dumpling pin (or regular rolling pin) roll the pieces into circles about 3 ¼” in diameter, rolling the outer edges thinner than the centre.
- To assemble the buns: hold a dough circle in a slightly cupped hand.
- Use a spoon or fork to centre about 4 teaspoons of filling on the dough circle, pressing down very gently and keeping about ½”- ¾” of the dough clear on all sides; your hand will automatically close slightly.
- Use the thumb of the hand cradling the bun to push down the filling; using the fingers of the other hand, pull up the dough edge and pleat and pinch the rim together to form a closed bun.
- Completely enclose the filling by pinching and twisting the dough closed.
- Place the finished bun on a piece of parchment, pleated side up. (The parchment is important otherwise the buns will stick to the steamer.)
- Repeat with the remaining dough and loosely cover the assembled buns with a kitchen towel until puffed and nearly doubled in size, 10-30 minutes, depending on the temperature in the room.
- Steaming: When the buns are almost ready, bring water to boil in a wok and placing a steamer basket on top.
- Place buns in the steamer basket, spacing them 1” apart and 1” away from the basket wall.
- Cover the buns and steam until puffed and the dough is cooked through, about 15 minutes.
- Transfer the buns, still on their parchment paper squares, to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Repeat steaming until all the buns are cooked.
- Serve warm or room temperature with a sauce made from soy sauce and a bit of garlic chilli paste (sambal olek).
- Make ahead: Can be made up to 6 hours in advance – shape and fill the buns then keep refrigerated to slow the rising process. Steam directly from the refrigerator.
- To freeze: May be frozen up to 2 months. Prepare the buns fully and after steaming allow to come to room temperature then place on a parchment lined sheet pan and freeze until solid. Place frozen buns in a Ziploc for longer storage. Allow to thaw at room temperature for 15 minutes then re-steam 12-15 minutes to warm through.