I decided that this week would be Dim Sum week with all the posts relating to a dim sum dish. All the dishes will be vegetarian and most will also have adaptation to allow them to be gluten free. There will be a range of dishes that will explore some of the most commonly found dim sum methods and components.
I love veggie dim sum and on our last two trips to Hong Kong we have gone out of our way to eat as much vegetarian dim sum as was physically possible. Yummy! There does seem to be a heavy use of mock meats in some of these places but to be honest I prefer dim sum where vegetables are used for a lighter dish but feel free to include mock meats if you prefer.
First up is the bbq bun which is a vegetarian version of the Char Siew Bao (barbecue pork bun). It has a filling of meaty mushrooms, crunchy water chestnuts and sweet peas all in a tasty bbq sauce.
There is no denying that making these little treats takes a bit of time. However, the majority of the time required is waiting for the dough to rise otherwise there is very little to do. The process can be cut down by using a bao premix (for which you just need to follow the directions on the packet) but as these mixes aren't always easy to find I have given the classic bao dough recipe. These buns can be made in a big batch and then frozen, making this the perfect weekend project. To reheat all you need to do is take them out of the freezer and steam them from frozen.
Vegetarian BBQ Bao (makes 12)
Vegan, vegetarian, dairy free
For the bun dough
1tsp Dried yeast
250ml Warm water
350g Strong flour or Hong Kong flour, plus extra for rolling out
1tbs Vegetable oil
1tsp Plus 3 tbs Sugar
For the filling
25g Dried weight of black chinese or shitake mushrooms,
50g Onion, finely chopped
100g Water chestnut, canned or fresh, peeled and finely chopped
1tsp Crushed garlic
2tbs Vegetarian oyster sauce
1tbs Hoisin Sauce
1 1/2tbs Tomato ketchup
1tsp Sesame oil
- Combine the yeast, 1tsp sugar and 50ml lukewarm water in a cup or small bowl. Leave to ferment for 5-10 mins.
- In a large bowl add the flour and sugar and mix. Form a well in the centre of the mixture and add the yeast mixture, the oil and 100ml of lukewarm water. Mix to form a soft dough by adding as much of remaining 100ml of water as required, you may not need all of it.
- Once you have a soft dough lift it out onto a heavily floured work surface and knead it until it is smooth. This should take around 10mins. If you need advice on kneading dough this bbc goodfood video is perfect for beginners.
- Place the ball of dough back into the bowl and cover with a damp towel and leave in a warm place for 2 hours or until the dough has at least doubled in size.
- Whilst waiting for the dough to rise, make the filling. Place the dried mushrooms in at least 250ml of hot water. Once rehydrated remove the mushrooms from the liquid. Set the liquid to one side as this will be used for the sauce. Destem and slice the mushrooms.
- In a pan add the onion, garlic, water chestnuts and mushrooms along with 200ml of the mushroom water. Add all the other ingredients bar the sesame oil into the pan and stir. Cook for 5-7 mins over a medium heat until the mixture has reduced to form a thick sauce that covers all the vegetables.
- Remove from the heat and add the sesame oil, stir and then set aside in the fridge until ready to assemble the buns.
- Once the bun dough has doubled in size take it out of the bowl and place on a well floured work surface. Once again knead the dough for a few minutes and form into a tube/roll, as this makes it easier to divide the dough up evenly. With a knife cut the dough into 12 equal pieces.
- Add water to you steamer, I used a bamboo steamer, and set to a medium temperature. You are now ready to assemble your buns.
- To fill the bun, take one of the 12 pieces of dough and gently flatten it until it forms a circle approximately 2.5-3cm diameter. Take the piece of dough and lay it in the palm of you hand. Place some of the filling in the centre of dough, I used around 2tsp filling per bun. Gently cup your hand so that the dough is like a shallow bowl with the filling in the bottom. With your other hand gently take the edges of the dough and fold over the filling to form a completely sealed ball. Place bun on a small piece of waxed/parchment paper. Repeat for remaining 11 dough pieces.
- Place as many buns in the steamer as will fit, allowing at least 5cm between buns. Do multiple batches if necessary. Steam for 15-20mins. Serve straight away or allow to cool and refrigerate or freeze wrapped in clingfilm/plastic food wrap. Reheat by steaming as before although it will take longer to steam if from frozen.