Observations about the universe, life, Lausanne and me

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Báhn bao

Update: I am informed that these are spelled Bánh bao, and are steamed buns, not dumplings. Thanks go to Ky-Ahn for educating this poor westerner!

Yesterday a sudden hankering after Vietnamese (or Chinese - for us unenlightened westerners the difference is indiscernible) dumplings overcame me. You can make them with amazingly little effort, and they taste great!

The dough is basic yeast dough - 500g flour, water, some shortening, a packet of dry yeast and two tablespoons sugar. Mix and knead thouroughly, and let rise for about two hours, or until the volume has more than doubled.

Then form little balls, about two or three centimeters in diameter, and either throw them directly into the steamer for plain báhn bao, or flatten them and fill them with stuff.
I quickly fried some bacon, onions and vegetables, Garam Masala (not very authentic, I know), chillis and fish sauce, quenched in red wine as a filling.

Steam for ten to fifteen minutes.  Serve while still hot, or keep them in the refrigerator for a few days. Can be re-steamed, or even nuked in the microwave.



  1. Dumplings NOT balls :P

  2. Eh, I form balls. Wanna make something of it? ;)

  3. I know what I'm having for lunch...

  4. Bon appetit!
    Let me know how they turned out - mine were quite good, I had the last for lunch today, and will probably make some more this evening.

  5. I don't get it - is it your physics training that makes you a good cook? Perhaps the aptitude for math? You toss out the recipe so casually I'm inclined to believe you made it up as you went along, and still ended up with perfect results. What vegetables did you use, pray tell? Perhaps I could simulate this when I lay hands on a steamer one of these days - I've fallen into a pasta-pizza-focaccia-lasagna rut lately. Bah.

  6. Trial and error, my dear. Trial and horrible, horrible error. There was this liver-banana dish a couple of years ago... my ex still talks of it with a shudder. Actually, I think it was the reason she went vegetarian in the first place!

    I just used a frozen vegetable mix I had in the fridge, and a few bits and pieces I had lying around: onions (you can never have enough onions in a dish!), a bit of leek, and a small carrot. The trick is to cut all the veg really small, since you have to stuff them into the dumplings afterwards.

    For a vegan version, you could try a bit of tofu (marinate it for half an hour or more in some soy-sauce, a crushed chile and maybe some garlic), a diced carrot and a handful of frozen veg - I always buy the cheap stuff from denner.
    Fry it up in order (onion first for a minute or so, then the tofu and then the rest, season (maybe curry? I like the cheap - you can detect a trend here - glass of green curry from Migros, a teaspoon should be enough), and then add a small glass of red wine. Let it reduce for a while, until you have just a bit of sauce left. This way the dumplings will have a nice, juicy interior.

    You can't really do much wrong with this, trust me. Only remember to season it more strongly than if you would eat it "straight", since the dough itself has almost no taste!

    Those steamers are really cool, and they make a very nice chicken as well. Ahem, that's probably not much of interest for you. But steamed veg is also fine, and is supposed to have loads of vitamins left when finished. Or, mushrooms. Steamed mushrooms in white wine! and dumplings. Njam!

    Or - báhn bao with sweet and sour sauce! A can of ananas, and maybe some citrus. Leave out the wine (and the curry of course). Hmm, maybe I'll try that tomorrow...

  7. You have misspelled Bánh Bao. And it is not a dumpling, but a steamed bun.

    "Bánh" refers to all sort of "Cake", salty or sweet. And "Bao" means "wrapped". It is in vietnamese, but every east asian country has its own version of this steamed bun (China, Japan, Korea, etc...).


  8. Thanks for the correction! That's what I get for trusting the internet...