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Seitan Part III: Vegetarian char siu mantou

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

There's something comforting about mantao (Chinese steamed buns that are not filled). It's probably the pillowy puffiness and how simple it looks that makes me want to just take a bite. Mantao is the perfect vehicle for the seitan char siu (Part II) that I made.
The proofed buns ready for the steamer (left); after steaming, the mantao are puffed and ready for filling
Mantou buns
Makes 4 large buns

150g pau flour (Water Lily or Hong Kong flour; low-protein flour)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp instant yeast
1 tbsp sugar
½ tbsp oil
A drop of alkaline water (air abu), optional
70ml water, approximate
Neutral-flavoured oil (like corn or vegetable), for brushing

Sift flour and baking powder into the mixing bowl. Add instant yeast, sugar, oil and alkaline water. Mix together with a fork or your hand to combine. Gradually add water and continue to mix until the mixture comes together into a firm ball.
Transfer dough to a work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 5-8 minutes. Cover dough with a damp tea towel and allow to rise until twice its size. Scale dough into equal pieces of about 55g each and form into balls. Cover with a damp tea towel and set aside for 5 minutes.
With your palm, flatten each piece of dough into a a 9cm disc (it will be about 0.5cm thick). Brush one half of the flattened discs with oil and fold over into a half-moon shape. Place on parchment paper squares and cover with a damp towel. Leave to rise, another 20-25 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare a tiered steamer.* Steam the buns over boiling water until puffed, 6-8 minutes. Serve while still soft and warm.
To assemble Vegetarian Char Siu Steamed Buns, gently open a mantao bun so there is a pocket (do not separate the two halves). Spread the inside with hoisin sauce if desired. Fill with slices of vegetarian char siu, pickled carrot and green onion. Enjoy!
* Apparently, if you add a little white vinegar into the water in the base of the steamer, this helps to keep the mantao white. I've tried it but I couldn't see much difference in the colour of the buns when I didn't use vinegar.


  1. Ooooh....that first picture looks SO mouth-watering! It's a long time I have not eaten mantou. I think I have to make myself. Thanks very much for sharing!

  2. i have some real charsiew to go with these mantou lol! Yours looks delicious and juicy even thought it's seitan, a new word for me I must confess.


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