Easy Steamed Buns, Two Ways (and Some Cookies!)

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Do you ever see something or hear of something and immediately know that you’ll love it? That’s how I felt about the delicious looking Chinese steamed buns, or bao, that keep turning up everywhere I look lately. Everywhere, that is, except on menus here in Albany. It seemed as though if I wanted to taste these for myself, I would ether have to travel to NYC or make them myself. Making them seemed like it would be complicated, so I tucked the idea away in my every-expanding file of recipes to try on the weekend. But then I read this post from Carolyn Jung, who had a little truck up her sleeve to make steamed buns on a weeknight a very real possibility.

The trick? Don’t bother making your own dough. Instead, turn to a tube of refrigerated biscuits. Easy Peasy. When classic Pillsbury biscuits are steamed instead of baked, the texture undergoes a complete transformation. Instead of turning out buttery and flakey, they become pillowy-soft and slightly chewy. I don’t know how authentic the flavor or texture is, but it’s exactly how I imagined it would be. And every bit as delicious.


I was having trouble deciding what I wanted to fill my bins with, so I ended up doing two version: one fatty, porky version based on Momofuku’s popular buns, and another light version stuffed with tofu that I baked with my favorite generic “Asian” marinade. Bother versions were amazing, but I actually liked the tofu version the most! It was light and fresh in flavor and the combination of textures — the doughy bun, crispy-creamy tofu and crunchy vegetables — was so much more interesting than that of the chewy pork belly.

I’ve posted tofu very similar to this one before, but I’ve recently started to fry the whole block very quickly before baking it. This gives the outside of the tofu a crispy coating that tastes really good and also makes the texture of the tofu a lot more appealing.


Easy Steamed Chinese Buns

A can of Pillsbury biscuit dough makes these buns easy to whip up for a weeknight dinner or as a delicious snack. Look for the traditional smaller sized tubes — no need for “grands” or “flaky layers” here. I also learned the hard way that you’ll want to line your steamer with something or the buns will stick and be difficult to remove — a cabbage leaf or a simple piece of parchment paper will do the trick! You’l need a bamboo steamer to make these. If you don’t have one, you should be able to pick one up in a Chinese grocery store or well-stocked kitchen supply store for well under $10. The steamer should fit snugly on top of a saucepan.

  • 1 tube Pillsbury biscuits
  • 1 bunch scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 cucumber, sliced into rounds
  • hoisin sauce for serving

For the tofu filling:

  • 1 block extra-firm tofu, drained and patted dry
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 4 Tbs soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbs sesame seeds

For the pork belly filling:

  • 1/4 pound pork belly, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbs hoisin sauce

To prepare the buns: Bring a pot of water that will fit under your bamboo steamer to a boil. Pop open the tube of biscuits and separate them. Use your fingers to flatten each round into a disk about 1/2-inch thick. Fold over into a half-moon shape and place in the steamer. Set the steamer on top of the pot of boiling water and steam for 10 minutes. Allow to cool, then slice each bun to form a pocket for fillings.

To make the tofu: Preheat oven to 350. Heat the oil in a small frying pan. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the tofu — it should immediately start to sizzle. Cook for 2 minutes on each side, or until La thin, crispy crust forms. Place in a baking dish. Combine the remaining ingredients. Pour over the tofu and bake for 15 minutes.

To make the pork belly filling: Set a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the pork belly and cook slowly, allowing the fat to render off. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until the edges begin to crisp. Add the hoisin to the pan and stir around to allow it to melt and lightly coat the pork pieces. Drain on paper towels until ready to serve.

To serve: Slather a little bit of hoisin sauce in each bun. Stuff with cucumber slices, scallions, and either a slice of tofu or pork belly.

Makes 4, 3 bun servings


IMG_9751.jpg IMG_9745.JPG
Switching gears a little, I wanted to mention these new cookie/crackers that I was sent to sample. Have you heard of Almondina? I hadn’t, and to be quite honest I didn’t have very high hopes for them, but they’re definitely something I’ll be seeking out again!
Almondina are all-natural, cholesterol and preservative free, 30 calories a piece, and surprisingly delicious. They’re very thin and crispy, and remind me of a thin,flat biscotti with soft pieces of raisins and almonds pieces. The flavors range of subtly sweet like a cookie, to more savory like a cracker. Even the sweet ones aren’t too sweet, and I think all of them would be great spread with a little cream cheese or goat cheese.
I’ve been eating them plain though. My favorite is the cinnaroma, which is a chocolate a cinnamon flavored cookie. I ate them all so fast that I didn’t get a picture. I also really like the chocolate-cherry flavor. The ginger flavor is more savory than sweet, and the sesame is very sesame. I don’t really like sesame very much, so that wasn’t my favorite. I also thought the original was ok but very plain. I’ll probably only buy the chocolate versions for myself.
I like how they aren’t super sweet — they remind me more of cocoa powder than of chocolate candy or a more traditional chocolate cookie. You can find Almondina locally at Price Chopper and TJ Maxx. If you’re lucky enough to live near a Whole Foods or a Trader Joe’s you can also find them there.

Hi, I'm Lauren!

I'm a certified plant-based cook and enthusiastic omnivore who loves looking for creative ways to make weeknight meals more nutritious. I'm the author of Heathy Eating One Pot Cookbook and Healthy Meal Prep Slow Cooker Cookbook. I also blog at The Busy Foodie. Read more...


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15 thoughts on “Easy Steamed Buns, Two Ways (and Some Cookies!)”

  1. Приветик! Я славная девушка мне24 лет и
    меня зовут Рогнеда , прикатила в Омск из Акъяра.

    Я занимаюсь предпринимательской деятельностью и продаю кисти.
    Учусь в МЭСИ на адвоката и в будущем планирую работать в большой фирме.
    Моя мама воспитатель и отец докто, нашей квартире можно найти все что угодно: монтажную пену и всякую всячину.

    Жить в мегаполисе очень интересно, здесь много
    невероятныхприключений я особенно люблю ходить в рестораны.
    Моя карьера непосредственно связанна с
    коммуникацией с разными людьми и мне это очень нравится,
    я могу рассказать обо все даже
    о герметике для окон. Люблю смотреть фильмы и меня интересуетреклама,
    как она создается и кто ее придумывает.
    Обожаю котов, хотела бы себемалютку.
    Но пока что я живу в маленькой квартире на Большой Декабрьской улице,
    не могу. Люблю читать исторические детективы и
    смотреть мыльные оперы, мой любимый фильм Иван Царевич и Серый Волк.
    Последняя книга, которую я читала была Нил Гейман «Океан в конце дороги»
    . А лучшая музыка, по-мойму, Классическая
    А еще я невероятно счастлива, что придумали такую штуку, как интернет.
    В нашем общежитии невыносимый
    холод, зато на ютубе я нашла видео инструкцию как пользоватся герметриком.
    Заклеила все окна и теперь у нас очень тепло.
    Я неплохо справляюсь .

    на экономиста и в будущем планирую работать в банке.
    Моя мама врач и отец строитель, наша квартира,
    в нашем доме можна найти все что угодно:гигиенические перчатки, строительные
    материалы, монтажную пену, витамины и всякую всячину.

    Жить в большом городе очень весело, здесь много
    интересных мест, я особенно люблю ходить в кино.
    Моя работа непосредственно
    связанна с общением и встречами
    с разными людьми и мне это очень нравится, я могу рассказать обо все даже о
    свойствах зимней монтажной пены.
    Люблю смотреть фильмы и меня интересует реклама, как
    она создается и кто ее придумывает.
    Обожаю собак, хотела бы себе маленькую.
    Но пока что я живу в общежитии на улице
    Тверской, не могу. Люблю читать
    романы и смотреть боевики, мой любимый фильм „Пролетая над гнездом
    кукушки”. Последняя книга, которую я читала была „Одиночество в сети” Януш Вишневский.
    А лучшая музыка, по-мойму, трипхоп.

    А еще я невероятно счастлива, что придумали такую штуку, как
    интернет. В нашем общежитии невыносимый холод, зато
    на ютубе я нашла видео инструкцию как пользоватся герметриком.
    Заклеила все окна и теперь у нас очень тепло.

    Мое хобби обработка фотографий, я могу посвятить уйму времени на просмотр обучающих фильмов.
    Работать я люблю скурпулезно.
    Каждое занятие прекрасное,
    заниматся спортом я просто обожаю.
    Посещаю тренажерный зал. Большой
    город насыщен предложениями как скрасить досуг,
    за это он меня так привлекает.

  2. i have been screaming to try steamed buns for a few months now and cant take it any longer. i debating making my own but with the yeast and such thought there has to be a short cut. this sounds yummy but i got to thinking that steamed buns are yeast based and bisquits are baking soda/powder based, i figured id use the pillsbury pizza dough that is in the can since its yeast based instead i purchased my stores brand of fresh dough. ill let you know how it comes out with one of your fillings.

  3. OMG Lauren – THANK YOU for saying you could do it with the Pillsbury canned dough. I saw Carolyn’s post and wondered about that. It’s now on my list!!!

  4. Using refrigerated dough is such a timesaver!This is so perfect on those nights (which have been a lot lately) when you just don’t know what to make for supper!

  5. im so impressed… and shocked at the same time! who knew canned biscuits could create such deliciousness. I havent tried yours but i have had some seriously good Bao… and those look LEGIT!
    nicely done!


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