Steamed buns are popular throughout China. Their texture is soft and light, fluffy yet firm. In the north and west they are served with Crispy Sichuan Duck or Tea-smoked Duck. Steamed buns reheat well; and they can also be frozen and, once thawed, re-steamed. They make a satisfying alternative to rice.
|175ml (6fl oz)||warm water|
|1 x 7g packet||of dry yeast|
|2 tbsp||groundnut or vegetable oil|
|375g (13oz)||plain flour|
|baking parchment or greaseproof paper, for cooking|
Combine the warm water and yeast and allow to sit in warm place for 2 minutes. The mixture should become slightly foamy. Add the sugar and the oil. Now combine the yeast mixture with the flour in a large bowl or alternatively, in a food processor, and mix until you have a smooth dough. Meanwhile, cut out 18 x 6cm (2½ in) squares of greaseproof paper.
Take the dough out of the bowl and knead it for a few minutes on a floured board. If it is still sticky, dust lightly with a few tablespoons of flour. Then form it into a roll about 45cm (18in) long and about 5cm (2in) wide. Take a sharp knife and cut the roll into equal segments. There should be about 18 pieces. Take a segment of dough and work it in the palm of your hand until it forms a smooth ball. Put the ball on a greaseproof paper square. Do the same with the rest of the pieces of dough, and put them, together with their paper bases, on heatproof plates. Cover the buns with a large sheet of baking parchment or greaseproof paper and then with a damp tea-towel, and let them rest for about 30 minutes in a warm place. After this period the buns should have doubled in size.
Next set up a steamer, or put a rack into a wok or deep pan, and fill it with 5cm (2in) of water. Bring the water to the boil over a high heat, then carefully lower the plate of buns into the steamer or on to the rack (you may need to do this in batches). Turn the heat to low and cover the wok or pan tightly. Steam over a high heat for 15 minutes.
The steamed buns are now ready to be served with Crispy Sichuan Duck (recipe on page 176 of Ken Hom's Complete Chinese Cookbook), Beijing (Peking) Duck (page 182) or Tea-smoked Duck (page 183). Alternatively you can let them cool, then pack them into a plastic bag and freeze them. Be sure to thaw them completely before reheating. The best way to reheat them is to cover them with clingfilm and warm them in a microwave oven.