Steamed Chinese buns with a meat filling are known as “bapao” in the Netherlands. It is very popular snack food. You can buy them in the supermarket and heat them up in the microwave. The quality is not very good (and they have only a small amount of meat), so it is much nicer to make your own. I have seen different Chinese names for this, like baozi, hum bao, bakpau, and bah-pau. They are often filled with pork, but in this case I chose to make a beef filling. For this I cooked beef short ribs sous vide for 24 hours at 74C/165F.
I’ve based the recipe on Modernist Bread (note that this is a not a modernist recipe), but I made some changes. Modernist Bread prescribes the use of osmotolerant yeast, which is needed because they put a large amount of sugar in the dough. By reducing the sugar to a more reasonable amount, you can use standard yeast instead.
Thanks to the deep beefy flavor of the tender short ribs, this was very tasty indeed. It was in fact so delicious that no sauce is needed to enjoy this.
For 14 pieces, for the dough
305 grams (1 1/3 cups) water
45 grams (5 Tbsp) nonfat milk powder
9 grams (1 Tbsp) instant dry yeast
470 grams (3 1/2 cups) bao flour (or bread flour)
25 grams (2 Tbsp) sugar
55 grams (1/3 cup) potato starch
20 grams (2 Tbsp) neutral oil, such as canola or sunflower oil
10 grams (1 1/2 tsp) fine salt
For the filling
500 grams (1.1 lbs) beef short ribs
salt and freshly ground white pepper
160 grams (1 1/3 cups) minced onions
80 ml (1/3 cup) shaoxing rice wine
60 grams (3 Tbsp) oyster sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
Season the beef short ribs with salt and freshly ground white pepper on all sides, and vacuum seal. (I cooked a large batch. One rib will do for this recipe.)
Cook the beef short ribs sous-vide at 74C/165F for 24 hours.
Discard the bone. Pull the meat with two forks.
Reserve the juices from the bag.
Carefully ladle the fat from the top of the bag juices.
Heat the beef fat in a frying pan. Add the minced onions…
…and stir over medium heat until the onions are soft and slightly golden, 5 to 10 minutes.
Add the shaoxing rice wine…
…oyster sauce, sugar, sesame oil…
…and the beef juices from the bag.
Stir, bring to a boil, and simmer until reduced by half.
Turn off the heat and add the pulled beef.
Stir well. Taste and just the seasoning with salt and freshly ground white pepper. Transfer the filling to a bowl and allow to cool.
To make the dough, combine 305 grams (1 1/3 cups) water, 45 grams (5 Tbsp) nonfat milk powder, and 9 grams (1 Tbsp) instant dry yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Add 470 grams (3 1/2 cups) bao flour (or bread flour), 25 grams (2 Tbsp) sugar, 55 grams (1/3 cup) potato starch, 20 grams (2 Tbsp) neutral oil, and 10 grams (1 1/2 tsp) fine salt.
Mix on low speed with the paddle attachment to a shaggy mass, 1 to 2 minutes.
Switch over to the dough hook.
Mix on medium speed to full gluten development, 4 to 8 minutes.
Start checking for full gluten development after 4 minutes by performing the ‘window pane test’. You should be able to stretch the dough until it is very thin without breaking. If it still breaks, mix for 2 minutes longer.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise at room temperature for 1 hour.
Cut parchment paper into squares of about 10 cm (4 inches). You will need 14 of those pieces.
Lightly oil the the parchment paper and arrange them in bamboo steaming baskets (7 will barely fit into a 30 cm/12 inch basket).
When the dough has risen…
…turn it out onto a floured work surface and flatten it. Then fold one third towards you and one third away from you and then roll the dough with both of your hands to obtain a thick sausage shape.
Divide the dough into 14 pieces of equal weight using a dough scraper. Arrange the pieces of dough such that you can remember which you cut off first.
Shape each piece of dough into a ball by ‘tucking’ the edges towards the center. Work in the same order as the pieces were cut off.
Keep the pieces of dough covered by a tea towel to prevent them from drying out.
When you have shaped a ball, put it on floured surface with the seam down. Keep going until you have shaped all 14 pieces. Keep them covered by the tea towel.
Shape the filling into 14 balls of equal size.
Take a piece and place it on the floured work surface with the seam side up. Take them in the same order as they were shaped.
Use your hand…
…to flatten it slightly.
Use a small wooden dowel or small rolling pin to roll out the dough, working outwards from the center to keep the center thick and make the edges thin.
Put a ball of filling in the center of the flattened disc of dough.
Close it by pleating the dough.
Pinch the pleats closed with your fingers. Keep pinching…
…until the dough is almost smooth.
Put the bun on the prepared oiled parchment paper in the steaming basket. Keep the basket covered while you continue with the other buns.
Allow the buns to proof for 1 hour, covered.
Then steam them for 15 minutes.
When you steam them they will expand, so do not put them too close together in the steaming basket.
Serve at once. They can be reheated in the microwave at full power for 20 seconds (or 30 seconds if refrigerated).
These Italian-style pork ribs sous-vide with sauce are delicious.