China: 包子和幸运饼干

In 2018 Pixar came out with an animated short called “Bao”. Like all Pixar shorts I was weeping by the end- they know just how to get you with all the feels. In the beginning of this short film a Chinese mother is making bao for breakfast. After the movie came out the director Domee Shi shared her mother’s recipe and that is the one that I decided to attempt.

For this meal I treated myself to a new toy- a bamboo steamer!

I feel like every blogger has made this recipe but to be honest, it’s that good. As I write this, my mouth is watering thinking about these delicious steamed buns of goodness. Let’s start with the obvious, Bao- what is it? Simply put it is a ball of yeasted bread filled with meat, veggies, and an assortment of spices and sauces, then steamed. The steam does something magical- the bun is light and fluffy, the filling is moist and flavorful, dare I say it… it is a perfect bite.

Luckily for us Domee Shi gave us her mom’s recipe in the cutest way imaginable.

I followed the recipe for the most part save for two things. One, I didn’t have any cooking wine (nor could I find it at my local grocery store) and second I used bok choy instead of Chinese cabbage. When I looked up what Chinese cabbage was I learned I could chose between Napa Cabbage and Bok Choy based on what I could get at our store. I decided to go with the super food that is bok choy.

I was unfamiliar with bok choy before this- I knew of it but that was it. This leafy green is amazing! It has vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene and selenium a mineral that helps with immune and heart health. Added bonus? It is really tasty!

Here’s how you make them, curtsey of Domee Shi once more…

The captions are too tiny to read so here are the instructions and then use the pictures to help (thats what I did!)

  1. Mix flour and yeast in a mixing bowl
  2. Add water and kneed until a solid dough ball forms. If it gets too sticky add more flour. If it’s too dry, add more water.
  3. Let the dough rise for about 2 hours.
  4. Cook half of the ground pork in a pan, and mix it with the raw pork.
  5. Mix the pork with the chopped cabbage (bok choy), carrots, green onions, ground ginger, sesame oil, olive oil, pepper, chick bouillon powder, oyster sauce, cooking wine, beaten egg, and salt.
  6. Once your dough has risen, dust your countertop with flour and roll out the dough into a long rope, using the “windmill technique”.
  7. Cut the dough into 1/2 inch pieces. Roll each piece into a wrapper.
  8. Spoon 1/2 tablespoon filling into center of wrapper. Then carefully pinch and fold the wrapper closed, twisting the top to finish. Make sure to press the dough tight to seal the top.
  9. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Place the bao in a steaming basket lined with cabbage leaves to prevent sticking, and place the basket on top of the pot of boiling water. Close lid. Steam for 15 minutes, then turn off heat and let the bao rest for 5 minutes.

Notes: The windmill technique is way harder than it looks and I didn’t roll my wrappers thin enough so do your best to get it nice and thin- it will make filling so much easier and you can see my bread to filling ratio is way off. I had a lot of filling left over… so I sautéed it and we ate it over rice for dinner the next night- sooo good!

Fortune Cookies!

Now I know these are an American Chinese takeout invention but I grew up with them and I love them! Fortune cookies are similar to French tuiles as they are a thin crunchy cookie. However the shape is uniquely all its own and there is a small piece of paper with a fortune written on it on the inside.

This is the recipe I followed:

Because Melissa (that’s me), I decided to make a few batches like the Chinese flag by coloring some dough red and yellow. Overall they were fairly easy to make but I learned the key is a thin layer of dough. Also be prepared to not quite burn yourself but handle hot cookies (they harden VERY quickly), I formed many a cookie and did a hot hands dance while wincing a bit.

Martin was good at putting the dough on the cookie sheet, or more accurately the upside down cookie sheet with a silpat baking mat on top. I did all the forming but he came up with the jokes 🙂

Bonus Tip: the recipe calls for egg whites and I tried to teach Martin how to rock the yolk back and forth in the shells- it didn’t work. So instead I had him crack a whole egg into a bowl then I would scoop the yolk out. Easy peasy!

*Bonus Recipe!

After making the fortune cookies I had 5 egg yolks left over and I just couldn’t through them away. So I decided to make a mommy only recipe with no helpers. I made Chinese Egg tarts with Chinese puff pastry. This is the recipe I followed:

Instead of 6 eggs, I did 5 yolks and 1 whole egg so the filling was more dense and rich but still delicious! As always, I didn’t roll my pastry thin enough so there wasn’t a lot of room for filling- hey, at least I’m consistent!

I’ve never made puff pastry before but I found it relaxing and almost meditative because every 20 minutes I would stop, roll out the pastry, fold and repeat. It has given me the confidence I needed and now I want to try making full French puff pastry.

My husband and I enjoyed these leftovers for breakfast- y’all these are just too good to pass up!

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