Updated: Oct 31, 2018
This recipe was a completely new experience for me. I have never made anything like this and every recipe I referenced said that it would only take about an hour to make them. HA! This took me almost three hours to make. Mostly because I have a very small rice steamer and could only do three to four bao at a time.
I really wanted to make bao because I lived in Hong Kong for a short period of time and fell in love with every kind of dumpling and especially bao. These turned out amazing and the filing is out of this world! I used multiple sources to make these and they are at the bottom.
Vegan and gluten-free
2½ cups gluten free flour
4 tsp – 3 tbsp sugar (optional)*
3/4 cup of water (may not use all of it)
½ tsp fine sea salt
2 tsp instant active yeast
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 cups sliced mushrooms (I used buttons, but feel free to use your favorite)
2½ tbsp tamari or all purpose soy sauce, adjust to taste
1 tsp of white (or black) pepper
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar(optional)
2 tsp cornflour / cornstarch
2 tbsp stir fry oil, for frying (or vegetable oil) Don't use too much because the mushrooms suck up the moister and then leech it out again.
3 small shallots finely diced
1 tbsp minced ginger
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Before we get started you will need a steamer. I used one that was stainless steel, but you can also use bamboo. You will also need parchment paper. It is important to note that you cannot use wax paper as a replacement. Also, do not use a glass top on your steamer when steaming the bao. You will want to put a hand towel over the top instead so the condensation doesn't drip back onto the bao.
First make your bao dough. In a bowl combine the flour, yeast, oil, salt, and sugar. Then slowly add in the water. Use your hands to knead the dough and adding more water as needed. You may not use all of the water and that's ok. You want to have a nice firm dough, but not too sticky. Then cover your bao dough with a towel and let the dough rise for 15-20 minutes.
Now let's make the filling. In a medium pan add in the stir fry oil (or vegetable oil). Bring the heat to medium. Chop up all of the mushrooms and shallots and then pour them into the medium pan. Cook for about five minutes or until the lighter shallots have become translucent. While the mushrooms and shallots are cooking in a separate bowl add in the tamari, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, ginger and garlic. Set the sauce aside until the lighter shallots have become translucent. Then pour the sauce into the pan and reduce the heat to low. Cook for about a minute.
While the sauce, mushrooms, and shallots are all mixing make the cornstarch mix. In a small bowl spoon in the cornstarch and 2 tbsp of water. Whisk together and pour into the sauce. Stir continually until the mixture becomes thick and sticks together. Remove from heat and set aside.
Your bao dough should be ready now. Cut out small squares of parchment paper for the dough to steam on. Put some of the flour on your hands and grab two small handfuls of dough (about 4 tbsps). Knead the dough out until it is flat but still a little thick. Spoon a tbsp of filling into the dough and then fold the dough up and over the center. Do this until you either get through all of the bao dough or you get through all of the filling. Mine made about eight large bao.
Now it is time to proof. I had no idea what this was either, but the bao continue to grow in size during this time. Take your boa and cover them in either a pan or in the steamer (don't turn the steamer on just yet). If you live in a warm climate (like me) let the bao sit in a pan or steamer for 20-30 minutes. If you live in a colder climate set your steamer to warm and let the bao sit for 20-30 minutes. Once the bao have proofed then turn the steamer on and cook for 15-20 minutes. If you have smaller bao cook for 10-15, if you have larger bao cook for 20-30 minutes.
Again, do not cover with a glass lid, cover with a towel. Do not life the lid on the bao at all during this time. Once the bao are finished (they may still look a little sticky and that's ok), remove the steaming dish, still covered, onto another towel. Let the bao sit covered for 10 minutes. Then uncover and serve!
We ate ours with an asian salad and it was perfect!