Sunday, June 29, 2008

Cha Shao Bao

My first attempt to make cha shao bao a couple years ago didn't work too well, because I didn't know that the dough for bao should have an addition of starch, to lower the gluten content. Also, my using unbleached flour didn't help.

Cha Shao Bao Dough
(Makes about 30 bao)

- 2.5 cups Bleached All-Purpose Flour
- 1.5 cups Wheat/Potato/Tapioca Starch (most recipes recommend wheat starch, but I only had
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 packet of yeast
- 1.25 cups warm water

  1. Mix all dry ingredients but the yeast together.
  2. Proof yeast in water, add to ingredients.
  3. Mix well, knead slightly (don't want to develop the gluten).
  4. Rise in refrigerator for about 8 hours. (Refrigerator rising/cool rising gives a more even texture, and works better for those with busy schedules. The cold slows the yeast's activity, allowing for more flavor and an interesting texture to develop.) You can either do the first rise at room temperature, and do the second rise in the fridge overnight OR do the rise in the fridge, remove and warm up to RT, check for doneness (2 finger poke method). If indentations remain, dough is ready to be used. If not, go through with the second rise at room temperature.
  5. Take out from fridge, warm up for 2 hours before using.
  6. Add a bit of the pre-mixed cha shao meat. (I added a bit of minced ginger and diced onions for an extra kick; other ingredients were more hoisin sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and a bit of sugar.)
  7. Add filling, pleat the dumplings. I need some extra practice pleating them, but this instructional video (on Youtube of all places) helped:
  8. The other way to pleat them is to form what they call "open smiling" or "smiling" bao, but I haven't figured out how to craft them so that they smile broadly yet. See this pic for a comparison:

  9. Steam for a couple minutes at high heat. Don't forget to add that red dot with food coloring! You can also infuse the dumplings with a tea aroma by adding a tea bag into the boiling water below, but that would probably go better with shau mai or xia jiao.
  10. Enjoy while hot.

Here are the dry ingredients before mixing. All white colors here.

Here's the Wei Chuan brand bamboo steamer from my mom; line the interior with Napa cabbage.

During steaming action. They only need a few minutes, since the meat was already cooked previously.

Uncovering them...

Final product. I think it turned out pretty well. The pleats could be a little tighter as you can see, but pretty successful.


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