Here is the recipe for the Steamed Buns I made for my Birthday Feast. Normally these are made with pork as Char Siu Bau at Yum Cha (Dim Sum). As soon as I saw the recipe in my The Food of the World - A Journey for Food Lovers book, I knew I had to make them! We just love going to Yum Cha and this is possibly my favourite dish, though there are so many yummy foods it is hard to choose a favourite. I was very pleased that these worked so well and tasted just like the real thing. I think they may become a regular item on our menu! The dough does take some time to prepare, but once it is ready they are very easy to make and well worth it.
Basic Chinese Yeast Dough
3 tbsp Sugar
1 Cup warm water
1 1/2 tsp dried yeast
400g plain flour
2 tbsp oil
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
Place the water, sugar and oil in an electric mixer bowl. Add flour, make a small well on top and add yeast. Mix with dough hook attachment until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes. If you don't have an electric mixer you can mix with a wooden spoon, then knead dough on a lightly floured surface. Lightly grease a bowl with some oil, place the dough in the bowl and turn it so that all sides are coated. Cover with a cloth and set aside to rise in a draught free place for 3 hours.
Uncover the dough, punch it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. If you are not ready to use the dough, you can wrap it in plastic wrap and place in fridge until ready. When you are ready to use the it, flatten the dough and make a well in the center. Place the baking powder in the well and gather up the edges to enclose the baking powder. Pinch the edges to seal. Lightly knead the dough for several minutes to evenly incorporate the baking powder. It is not ready to use.
Red Bean Filling
1 tsp oil
1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed.
1 onion, finely chopped
1 small zucchini, finely chopped
3 button mushrooms, chopped
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp soy sauce
3 tsp sugar
Heat the oil in a wok or large frypan. Add the beans and stir fry for about 3 minutes until the beans are soft and breaking up a little. Add the onion, mushrooms and zucchini and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the sesame oil, soy sauce and sugar, cook for a further minute, then leave to cool.
Divide the dough into 24 portions. Press a portion into a circle and place 1-2 tsps of the red bean filling into the middle of the dough. Fold the sides up to enclose the filling, pinching the top to seal them completely. Repeat with remaining portions. Place the buns well apart into a steamer. Normally this would be done in a bamboo steamer over a wok but as we didn't have any, I just used a vegetable steamer insert over a saucepan of boiling water. Steam the buns over simmering water for 15 minutes or until the buns are well risen and a skewer inserted into the center comes out hot.