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.
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