Submitted by Ayala Pearl
These amazing fluffy buns are filled with a juicy flavorful beef filling. Bao are a cross between a beef dumpling and a knish. They are a unique appetizer or entree for any occasion. The buns are steamed rather than baked, which makes the dough soft and fluffy, and the filling super moist- almost like there is a broth inside.
I came up with this recipe because I have never seen a kosher version of bao. I added ginger and rice vinegar to the dough to give it extra flavor. The filling has the perfect balance of salt, savory, sweet, and spicy- perfect umami harmony:) The dipping sauce just adds another burst of flavor and the bao dough is super fluffy which makes it a perfect vehicle for soaking up the sauce. They are relatively easy to make and really fun to eat. Bon Appetite!
Whisk together water, yeast and sugar. Set aside for 4-5 minutes until yeast has bloomed and bubbles form.
Meanwhile, sift together 1 1/3 cup flour, baking soda, salt, and ginger in a large bowl. Add oil and vinegar to yeast mixture.
Pour yeast mixture into flour mixture. First , use wooden spoon to mix dough and then knead by hand for about 4-7 minutes. If dough is sticky, add additional flour about 1 tbsp at a time. Dough should be smooth and elastic. Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow dough to double in size about 1-1/2 hours.
When risen, punch dough down and form into a long rope about 2 inches wide. Cut dough into pieces about 2 inches long. There should be about 10-12 pieces. Cover pieces with plastic wrap so dough will not dry out.
Place ground beef and the rest of the filling ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly to combine. Place filling in the fridge for about 15-20 minutes.
Stir soy sauce, vinegar, and honey together. Add sliced garlic and ginger. Top with sesame seeds.
Take a piece of dough and roll into a ball. Flatten dough ball with the palm of your hand onto a floured surface. Use a rolling pin to flatten dough circle, rolling from the center of the circle out to the edges of the circle so that the edge are slightly thinner than the center. The dough should not have any parts that you can see through, The circle should be around 2.5-3 inches in diameter.
Place 2 tbsp of filling in the center of the dough circle. Pinch and pleat the edges of dough around and over the filling. Bring all edges together and pinch at the top, then rotate the bottom of bun to create a swirl or twist at the top of the bun.
Fill a pot with 1-2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Place a bamboo steamer/ steamer basket lined with parchment paper over the boiling water. (See note.) Place buns in a steamer basket lined and cover. Lower flame to medium/high heat. Steam for 12 minutes.
Serve hot with dipping sauce. Enjoy!
If you don’t have a steamer, you can easily make one out of tin foil. Roll three large balls of aluminum foil and place them in the bottom of a large skillet. Place a plate over the foil balls. (The plate should fit inside the skillet with space around it for steam to rise.) Line the plate with parchment paper and place buns on it. Cover skillet and steam as directed above. A wire rack can also be used in place of a steamer basket.