Banh Bao’s or Vietnamese steamed pork buns are one of those feel good foods either homemade or bought. Although we know home made is better because we know what’s in it, sometimes we don’t have the luxury of time to make it. The process is quite a bit including waiting for the dough to rise then stuffing the dough, steaming, and then eating them. But, let me tell you — it is all worth it at the end.
I have eaten my fair share of Banh Bao’s and similar types of steamed buns. In the Filipino world, there is Siopao (pronounced: shoo-pow) that is soft and fluffly and filled with pork asado or something close to ground pork with egg as well. I love the intersection of Chinese and Filipino and how each culture has influenced each others culinary offerings.
One of my challenges in making these banh baos is the dough just like in baking bread. I am a bread lover but I can’t get that dough right most of the time. While working the dough on this one, I felt some disappointment (as I always do when dealing with dough) that the dough might be a bust. However, I think it turned out okay – not good or the best – but okay. And I am fairly okay with that.
I definitely need a dough lesson one of these days.
One tip to make this a fluid process is to prep your other ingredients such as slicing the Chinese sausage or making hard boiled eggs while the dough is rising. You can also get the steamer ready by adding your water and a splash of vinegar. The vinegar helps keep that outside appearance “white” – a signature of the banh bao’s. Additionally, cutting up small squares of parchment paper to where you will rest your bao’s while it’s steaming.
If you don’t care for the Chinese sausage, you can definitely omit it. Or, if you have a preferred way of seasoning your ground pork (you can use ground chicken too if you like), by all means, use that.
I have a metal steamer and while it does its job I think I will eventually invest in a bamboo steamer as I’ve heard it’s better. My steamer is quite old and has been with me for decades. I know it needs to be replaced, but often I wonder what to get. I think the bamboo steamer is the best way to cook dumplings, buns, and more.
I’ll leave you here so I can enjoy these bao’s. I think they’re ready.
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