Monday, May 28, 2007

Stuffed Buns (Steamed or Baked)

This recipe is time consuming, but worth the effort (and a lot of fun if you want to impress your friends and you have some extra time on your hands.) In my opinion, making the time for something like this is generally a good idea. Put some good music on, gather in the kitchen with some friends, and have a good time - it's more rewarding than TV and cheaper than a movie. What could be better?

These buns can be steamed or baked. They're delicious either way, but the taste of each is quite different. This evening, I baked them because I thought they would go well with the soup Susan was making. The filling can be quite varied. The original recipe calls for spiced pork or sweet adzuki bean fillings. I have used cheese, mushrooms and broccoli, Veggie Crumble (of course), and black beans, garlic, onion and cilantro.

Make the filling:

As I mentioned before, this is where you can get creative. Here is what I have been doing recently:

1 12 oz. package Veggie Crumble

1can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 white onion, chopped small
2-4 tablespoons Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce)
2-10 cloves of garlic, minced (and about a thumb-sized piece of ginger, chopped small, if you want)
1-3 tablespoons of hoisin sauce
1-6 tablespoons of FolkFoods Master Sauce (or a chili garlic hot sauce of your choice)
1-3 tablespoons of maple syrup
1-3 tablespoons of rice wine and rice vinegar

(The amounts are not precise - I base my measurements on what I have in the house, who will be eating with us, how lazy I am feeling, etc.)

Heat a wok, frying pan, pot, whatever and add about 1 tablespoon of oil on medium heat. Add onion and stir until softened. Add the garlic and stir around till it is perfect. How do you know if it is perfect? Whenever you are tired of stirring that stuff around and the kitchen smells really nice, it is perfect. Add the Veggie Crumble and drained beans and stir to get them all mixed around with the garlic and onions. (You can mash the beans a little bit if you want, only if you want.)

Stir in all of the rest of the ingredients and turn up the heat a little. Stir in the liquids slowly until you get the consistency that you want. How do you know when it's at the correct consistency? Practice. Your filling is now complete.

Make the Sweet Bread Dough:

(This dough can really be used for a lot of different things; I once had leftovers and made onion bialys - they weren't totally authentic, but they were tasty!)
1 envelope active dry yeast
3 Tbsp sugar
1 c warm milk (can use soymilk)
1 egg
1/3 c veg oil
3 1/2 c flour + more for kneading

1. Put the yeast and 1 Tbsp sugar in a small bowl and add 1/4 cup warm milk. Let stand for 5 minutes, then stir (it should foam and bubble). Stir in egg, oil and the rest of the milk.

2. Put the flour and the rest of sugar in a food processor. While processing, slowly pour milk mixture into the bowl in a steady stream until it forms a rough dough ball, pulling away from the sides of the bowl (if its too wet, then add more flour, c'mon.) Remove to a lightly floured board.

3. Knead dough, dusting as needed, until smooth and elastic (roughly about 2 minutes). Put in a large oiled bowl and cover. Let it rise for an hour until doubled, punch it down. Put on floured surface. Rest for a minute, this is supposed to be fun, don't neglect your friends; give them something to do and to eat or drink.

4. Cut the dough in half. Roll each half into a 12" log and cut into 10 pieces. Press each piece down into approximately a 4" circle, with the outside thinner than the inside. Fill!

Filling the Buns:

Filling the buns is a fun activity to share with friends. For you email recipients, here is a short video about how to fill your buns. Or, just watch below:

After filling the buns, put them on a baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees (although I am basically making those times and that temperature up - I can't really remember the exact time and that sounds close enough. Take out the buns when they are nicely browned on top, that should work.) OR put them in a bamboo steaming tray over boiling water and steam for about 25 minutes.

They are really good! If I can remember, I will post a generic dipping sauce sometime in the future. (Or you can just dip the steamed buns in your friend's soup!)

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