Baozi is part of Chinese cuisine and generally refers to a type of steamed, filled bun. The kind you’re probably most familiar with is the roasted pork buns (cha siu bao) commonly found in Chinatowns. Soup dumplings are another kind of bao, called xiaolongbao. As you can tell, the word bao in these names denote that they are a type of steamed and filled bun. You have to try these! They’re quite delicious! I love biting into one of these – you get the texture of the soft, pillowy steamed bun that has been infused with the flavor of the meat during the steaming process. And along with this bite, you get a part of the filling that’s moist, flavorful and savory.
The dough for baozi is the same as the kind used for mantou, which I wrote about when I made Slow Cooker Barbecue Pulled Chicken Mantou Sandwiches. It’s a simple dough of just flour, water, sugar (optional), salt and yeast. The filling is traditionally ground pork, but I use turkey (sometimes a mixture of turkey and pork) because it’s leaner. The other ingredients in the filling is similar to what you put into meatballs, bread crumbs, egg and some broth. These additions make the filling moist and allow the flavor to get steamed into the dough. Yum! The other filling ingredients that make the dish traditionally Chinese include chives and spring onions. You can be creative with the filling ingredients! Large pieces of chopped shrimp can be added into the filling. And there are dessert versions of baozi, which have sweet bean paste, black sesame paste or lotus seed paste as the filling. While baozi can be eaten throughout the day, they’re most often eaten for breakfast in China. I’ll eat them for breakfast, lunch (and snack!), and dinner any day.
-For the Dough-
- Dissolve the sugar into the water.
- Add in yeast and let sit for 10 minutes.
- Mix together flour and salt.
- Pour in yeast mixture and stir together.
- Knead to form a soft dough.
- Put dough in a bowl and cover with saran wrap or a lid.
- Let rise 1 1/2 – 2 hours, until it about doubles.
- If using a bread machine, put all the ingredients into the insert and set on basic dough cycle.
- Once the dough finishes rising, punch down and knead for about 5 minutes.
- Roll the dough into a log shape and divide into 16 equal pieces. Set aside.
-For the Filling-
- In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the filling.
- Roughly divide the filling into 16 portions so each baozi has equal filling.
-For the Assembly-
- Take a piece of dough and flatten to a round about 4″ in diameter. Make sure that the outer rim is a bit thinner than the rest of the round since the middle area needs to be thick enough to hold the filling without ripping.
- Cup the round in your hand and scoop a portion of the filling into the center of the dough.
- Bring together the edges of the round and pinch together at the top to make the baozi shape.
- Place each shaped baozi on a piece of cut parchment paper. This will keep it from sticking to the bottom of the steamer basket.
- Place the baozi in the steamer baskets a few inches apart from each other.
- Cover and let rise 45 min.
-For the Steaming-
- Add water to the steamer stack and steam 20 minutes.
- After the stove is turned off, let baozi sit in steamer covered for about 5 minutes so the steam can dissipate gradually. If the cover is immediately lifted after cooking, the quick escape of steam can cause the baozi to collapse.
I like to eat baozi with some dipping sauce. I typically mix in some chili (sriracha) with some Chinese black vinegar.
Ground turkey is lean so the filling will be more dry than if you use pork. For a good in-between, you can mix these two types of ground meat.
To reheat leftover baozi, place a damp paper towel over one bun and microwave for 45 seconds. You can also reheat the leftover baozi by pan-heating (pan-frying) them in a bit of oil. This gives it a nice crunchy crust on the outside, like you get in fried dumplings. If you don’t want to use that much oil in the reheating process, first reheat in the microwave and finish on a lightly seasoned (or dry) pan just to harden the outside a bit.