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Pan-fried steamed buns

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The chilli sauce in the picture looks like a Chinese character, doesn't it? I just hope I haven't scribbled (more like dribbled) a bad word!
And the chopsticks? They're obviously a prop since I can't pick up anything as big as the steamed buns with chopsticks. 
I am no expert maker of pau or steamed buns, but if I'm feeding myself, these are good enough. I like these two-in-one pan-fried and steamed buns – they are placed in a little oil to brown the bottom and then water is poured into the pan so the pau are steamed until done.
Filling ingredients for pan-fried steamed pau
I use a mushroom filling with lots of different vegetables thrown into the mix for taste and texture.
What's important is the type of flour that is used. Water Lily or Hong Kong flour is a fine, low-protein flour which makes the pau fluffy. It's also bleached, however. With buns that are only steamed, apparently if you put a few drops of white vinegar in the steaming water, it keeps the buns white.
After the bottom is fried, water is added to the pan to steam the buns
Pan-fried Steamed Buns
Makes 6 medium buns

1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tsp sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
4-5 shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
¼ cup julienned carrot
½ cup shredded cabbage
¼ cup thinly sliced snow peas
1 spring onion, white part, chopped
2 tbsp oyster sauce

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

Assembly and cooking
1½ tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp sesame seeds, optional
1 tbsp all-purpose flour mixed with 1 cup water
1 spring onion, green part, chopped
Chilli sauce, to serve

To make the filling, heat oil and sesame oil in a frying pan. Sauté the garlic briefly and then add the other ingredients. Toss briefly and then remove to a plate to cool.
To make the buns, sift flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl. Stir in instant yeast, sugar, oil and alkaline water. Gradually add water and continue mixing to form a firm ball.
Transfer dough to a work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, five to eight minutes. Cover dough with a damp tea towel and allow to rise until twice its size.
Scale dough into six equal pieces and form into balls. Cover with a damp tea towel and set aside for five minutes.
To assemble, roll out each ball into a circle about 8cm wide. Brush the centre of the circle with a little hoisin sauce and place a mound of filling on it. Gather up the edges and pleat neatly (or just press together and twist!). Press the bottoms of the buns in the sesame seeds, if using.
To cook, heat the oil and sesame oil in a large lidded pan. Place the buns in the pan and cook until the bottoms are crisp and a deep brown. Pour in the flour solution and cover the pan to steam the buns. Leave until puffed up and water has evaporated, six to eight minutes. Sprinkle with chopped spring onion and serve immediately with chilli sauce.

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