Sunday, December 29, 2013

Steamed Char Siu Bao 蠔皇叉燒包


Happy New Year to all my blog readers!

As this blog approaches its fourth year, I would like to start a new seriesThis is the first post on the dim sum series, with more to follow. Stay tuned.

Every time I go to a dim sum restaurant, char siu bao (BBQ pork bun) is one of my must-have dishes. Inside the white, fluffy, and sweet bao is char siu with oyster sauce. It is so easy to gobble one down in less than a minute. Believe it or not, I have been trying to make a decent char siu bao on and off for more than three years.





I don't usually show my failed experiments on the blog. But in order to illustrate what can go wrong with this innocent looking bao, here are my previous trials:

brown baos with too much baking soda

baos with speckles

baos did not crack open

A successfully steamed bao should be white, has the cracks open on the top, and a soft texture that should not stick to your teeth. It sounds simple, but after trying out different recipes, I came to a conclusion that in order to make a decent bao, an aged dough (leaven) is indispensable. But experience in mastering it is very important. A recipe can only be a reference. How much base (ammonia bicarbonate, baking soda, etc) to balance the acid in an aged dough varies. It also takes experience to know when the aged dough is mature enough to be used.

Making aged dough is very similar to making the levain used in sourdough bread, but aged dough takes less time to be ready for use.

Step 1: mix 45g all purpose flour with 25g water. Cover and leave in a warm spot (75-80F) for 17 hours. If you start it early in the morning, you can start the next step at night or before you go to bed. Otherwise, leave it overnight for 17 hours until the next morning.
Step 2: Add 90g all purpose flour and 45g water to the dough from step 1. Cover and leave in a warm spot for another 17 hours. At the end of step 2, the dough should have risen with good gluten development and bubbles. It should also give an alcoholic and slight acidic smell. By then, it is mature and ready to be used.

Reference: Fine Dim Sum in Hong Kong


上茶樓嘆一盅兩件,與一家大細或三五知己飲啖茶,食個包,為繁忙的生活點綴一下,也是賞心樂事。在眾多港式點心中,叉燒包可算是經典之一。在雪白軟綿的包內是充滿蠔油汁的叉燒,很容易便食上一、兩個。這包看似簡單,但要做得好一點也不容易。在過往約兩三年內我便斷斷續續做過很多次,但都沒有滿意的成果(請參閱以上相片),不是放太多泡打粉以致包身變深褐色,便是充滿斑點,又或是沒有"爆口"....

最近我專心研究眾多不同食譜,反覆試驗之後得出的結論是:要做一個像樣的包,做好麵種(或叫老麵)是少不了的。但要成功做好麵種須要耐性及經驗,不是光靠跟足食譜便行。要知道怎樣平衡麵種的酸鹼度,又要知道麵種是否成熟可以用來做包,真是不能三言兩語可以理解及掌握得到,所以以下食譜也只可提供給你作為參考。可能第一次做不到滿意的成果,但不要氣餒,自古成功在嘗試啊 !

參考食譜: 港點心,港味道

這是一連串關於點心及中式糕點系列的頭一炮,其他接踵而來,請密切留意。


麵種做法:
第一天:將四十五克麵粉與廿五克水混合,放溫暖處(75-80F)約十七小時。
第二天:將九十克麵粉及四十五克水加入昨天的麵團,再讓它發酵約十七小時。之後發酵好的麵種會有明顯之氣泡及輕微之酒味。



Ingredients to make 8 baos:
200g aged dough 麵種
75g sugar 糖
1/4 tsp ammonia bicarbonate 臭粉
1/8 tsp/ two drops of lye solution 鹼水
12g water 水
5g butter 牛油
75g all-purpose flour 麵粉
6g potato starch 薯粉


1)  Combine your aged dough, sugar, ammonia bicarbonate and lye. Mix and knead until the sugar is dissolved.
2)  Add the rest of the ingredients and knead until the dough becomes smooth.

混合麵種,糖,臭粉及鹼水,手搓至糖溶。加入其餘材料,搓至成一光滑麵團。

Char Siu fillings 叉燒餡:
1 slice of ginger 薑
1 spring onion, cut into 3 sections 蔥,切段
200g water 水
2 tbsp sugar 糖
1 tbsp oyster sauce 蠔油
1 tbsp dark soy sauce 老抽
1 tsp sesame oil 麻油
2 tbsp corn starch 粟粉
1 tbsp potato starch 薯粉
200g char siu, diced 叉燒,切粒

1)  Heat about 1 tsp oil in a pan. Add ginger and spring onion and cook for about 30 seconds.
2)  Add about 150g water and saute for two minutes. Discard the ginger and spring onion.
3)  Mix the rest of the ingredients, except char siu, and add to the pan, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and let it cool.
4)  Mix char siu with the sauce.
5)  Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Roll each piece out into a disk, put about a tablespoonful of filling inside, and seal the opening.
6)  Steam on high heat for about 6-7 minutes.

Notes:
Ammonia bicarbonate will dissipate after steaming and will not be detected. The uncooked dough will be slightly yellow and it should change to white after steaming. If it remains brownish or yellowish, the pH in the dough is off balance.


燒熱鍋下油,放薑片及蔥爆炒片刻,加入150g水煮約二分鐘至出味。取出薑及蔥不要。放下其他調味料煮至滾起,熄火待涼,加入叉燒粒拌勻。麵團平均分成八份,每份輾成圓形,放入約一湯匙餡料,收口。用大火蒸六至七分鐘便成。

注意事項:
臭粉會在蒸的過程中揮發,食時不會有味。麵團搓好後顏色可能偏黃或褐色,但蒸後會變白。如果蒸後仍然偏黃,代表麵團酸鹼度有偏差。





5 comments:

  1. my mom said using the 'rose brand flour' give whiter buns, you might want to try when you get a chance

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rose brand? Is it available in LA? I'd love to try it. But I think the color of the bun is more related to the pH than the type of flour being used.

      Delete
  2. Hi Phoebe, Thank you so much for explianing how to steam /make Bao. I did fail so many time and gave up to do it but after review your blog. I will try to follow your suggestion.Big snow storm tonight in Boston I definitely try it for weekend .
    Happy New Year.
    Pat

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Pheobe, I heard if you want to Bao whiter in color you can put some vinegar in boiling water when steaming Bao.

      Delete
    2. Hi Pat,
      I think it is based on the similar rationale of balancing the pH. But I doubt the effectiveness of making the steam acidic?

      Delete

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