Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Greened Asian Steamed Buns with two dipping sauces

I love steamed buns. When I was living in San Francisco one summer I rarely missed an opportunity to step into a little shop with display cases loaded with these warm buns filled with some exotic (to me) ingredients.  They were a cheap and filling food.  A dollar could buy me 2 or more steamed buns which would last me a couple of hours exploring the city. 

Among the many things I miss about San Francisco, these buns are high on my list.  I never thought about making them at home until I saw a few bun recipes online.  They had seemed so shrouded in mystery before then.  I guess I assumed it took years of training with some guru of steamed buns to produce good results.  And of course, being of Asian decent or having immersed yourself in the culture for several years would also be a requirement.  Sadly, on both counts, I was out of luck.

Luckily, this is not the case.  While nothing will ever beat a fresh steamed bun from some funny smelling shop in the Sunset District of San Francisco, when you're starving from walking two miles through Golden Gate Park, these are pretty darn good.  With white whole wheat flour in the dough and cancer fighting cabbage and kale in the filling, it is also pretty darn good for you. 

Greened Asian Steamed Buns
serves 6
a balancing the table original


For the Dough:

3/4 cup warm water
3 tbs. sugar
3 tbs. instant yeast
4 cups white whole wheat flour
1 tsp. kosher salt (use 3/4 tsp if using table salt)
1 1/2 cup milk
1 cup all purpose flour (more or less depending on humidity level)

For the Filling:
1 tbs. vegetable oil
8 ounces shiitake mushroom, caps only, thinly sliced
3 green onions, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced.
1 lb. ground chicken or turkey
1 bunch kale, washed, ribs removed. and coarsely chopped
1 small head savoy cabbage, coarsely chopped (napa cabbage would also be good)
2 tbs. soy sauce
2 tbs. rice vinegar
2 tsp. chile sauce (or to taste)
Salt and freshly ground pepper


make the dough:
1. In a large bowl combine the water, sugar and yeast.  In a separate bowl combine the white whole wheat flour and the salt.  
2. Add milk to the yeast mixture.  Add the flour mixture a little bit at a time until a soft dough forms.  Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead in the remaining flour mixture.
3. Knead in the all purpose flour until the dough is smooth and only slightly sticky.
4. Cover with a kitchen towel and allow to rise until doubled, about an hour.

make the filling:
1.  Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat.  Add mushroom caps and green onions and stir fry until mushrooms are tender, about 2 minutes.  Add garlic and stir fry until fragrant, 30-60 seconds.  
2.  Add the ground chicken and cook while crumbling.  Continue cooking until chicken nearly cooked.
3. Add kale, cabbage, soy sauce, vinegar and chili sauce to the skillet.  Stir to combine.  Cover and cook until greens are slightly wilted and chicken is fully cooked.  Salt and pepper to taste.

make buns:
1. Punch down dough and form into 24 balls.  Let balls rest 10 minutes before rolling out.
2. Cut out 24 squares of parchment paper.
3. Roll balls out into four inch circles, using extra flour as needed.  Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the filling into each piece of dough.  Pull edges of dough up over the filling, pinching seam closed.  Place, seam side down onto a piece of parchment paper.  
4. Steam, in batches, for 10 minutes, until cooked through. *
5. Serve with sauces (recipes follow)

 *use whatever steaming device you have, I use the steaming basket that came with my rice makerThis or this would also work fine.  Just make sure the buns are not in the water.
Vinegar Dipping Sauce: 

adapted from: Ellie Krieger
1 tbs. sugar
2 tsp warm water
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 tsp chili sauce (Sriracha)
1 tbs. lime juice

Dissolve sugar in warm water, combine with other ingredients, and chill until ready to use. 

Hoisin Dipping Sauce

a balancing the table original
1 tsp oil
1 garlic glove
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 tbs. soy sauce 
2 tbs. rice vinager
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tbs. water
1/2 tsp chili sauce 

1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add garlic and stir fry until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Turn heat to low and all remaining ingredients.  Heat to a low simmer and remove from heat. 


What the husband thinks: He really really likes these.  I tried a vegetarian version of these a few weeks ago which he also like but said, "It would be better with meat."  So, they were...

What the kid ate:  a bit of the bread part.  He preferred the vegetarian version.  Not to say he didn't throw the greens on the floor both times, though.

These are a lot of work.  But, if you are in the mood, so so worth it.


  1. Yum yum. Though, i think I will save myself all that work and just walk down the street to pick them up in the morning. -Amber

  2. I am going to try to make this. Yummy. I always went into the Russian Bakeries and go there meat filled scones those were good :)

    1. I never tried anything at the Russian bakeries other than the bread.