Steamed Buns (Baozi)

Steamed Buns (Baozi)
Baozi—AKA, steamed buns—are like little pockets of delicious treasure.
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 6 tbsp. water
  • 1 tbsp. sweetened condensed milk or honey
  • ¾ c. milk, divided
  • 1 tsp. instant yeast
  • 3⅓ c. all-purpose flour
  • ¾ tsp. kosher salt
  • 1¼ c. finely shredded cabbage
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 lb. ground or minced pork
  • ¼ tsp. five spice
  • ½ tsp. ground Szechuan peppercorns
  • ¼ tsp. ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp. ground white pepper
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp. MSG (optional)
  • ½" ginger, finely minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • ¼ c. finely chopped chives or green onions
  • 2 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 2 large carrots, shredded
  • 8 oz. firm tofu or fish cakes, finely diced
  • 1" piece fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 large clove garlic, grated
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 tbsp. miso
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. gochugaru or ½ tsp. ground cayenne
  • 1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 c. dried adzuki beans, soaked overnight
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ⅔ c. granulated sugar
  • ¼ c. Chinese black vinegar
  • 4 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. finely minced fresh ginger (optional)
  • ½ tsp. granulated sugar
  • Pinch kosher salt
  1. Make the dough: In a small pot over low heat, whisk together cornstarch and water. Cook until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat, add in honey and ¼ cup milk and whisk until incorporated. Let mixture cool to a lukewarm temperature, then whisk in yeast.
  2. Heat remaining ½ cup milk until simmering. In a large mixing bowl using chopsticks or a fork, combine flour, salt, and hot milk until a very shaggy mixture forms. Stir in cornstarch-yeast mixture, and work dough with your hands until cohesive and no dry spots remain, about 5 minutes. Cover bowl and let dough stand for 30 minutes.
  3. Gently deflate dough and gently pick up one edge of the dough and pull lightly to fold it toward the opposite edge. Repeat this stretch and fold motion around the bowl, about 4 folds total, then flip dough upside down so that the smooth side is facing up. Let rest another 30 minutes. Repeat stretch and fold two more times, resting about 30 minutes after each fold.
  4. Meanwhile, make your filling of choice. Optionally, make the savory dipping sauce: Stir together all sauce ingredients in a small bowl until well combined.
  5. When ready to assemble buns, cut dough into 12 equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll each dough into a 6” round on a lightly floured surface, rotating the dough frequently and taking care to roll edges out thinner than the center of the dough.
  6. Place a portioned meatball or 2 tablespoons of filling in the middle of the round, then pleat edges together. Using your thumb, middle, and index finger of your dominant hand to hold all the pleats in one spot while the other hand "feeds" the dough into the fold: gather and pinch together ¾” of dough, repeating this motion all around the edge of the round, between 12 and 15 pleats total. Gently twist counter clockwise to create a swirl pattern with your pleats, then pinch to firmly seal the pleats together.
  7. Fill a large pot with 2 cups of cold water, then lay a steamer basket lined on top. Cut twelve 3" squares of parchment, then place buns on prepared parchment inside the steamer, spaced about 2” apart. Let rise, uncovered, until the dough increases about 50% in size and springs back very slowly when poked, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  8. Cover the pot with a lid lined with a paper towel (to trap condensation), then turn heat to medium. Once water is up to a boil, reduce heat to low and steam buns for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and let stand with lid on for 5 minutes more. Remove the lid and let buns cool until safe to touch.
  9. Serve with dipping sauce, if desired.
  11. In a large bowl, toss cabbage with salt until well combined. Let sit for 10 minutes.
  12. Add all remaining pork filling ingredients and stir mixture in one direction until a smooth paste forms.
  13. On a plate or tray lined with parchment, portion mixture into 12 meatballs and transfer to the freezer t0 chill for 30 minutes, until semi-firm.
  15. In a large bowl, stir all ingredients together until well-combined.
  16. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill while dough is resting.
  18. Rinse and drain soaked beans. In a medium pot over medium heat, combine beans with 2 cups water and salt and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and let cook until beans are tender and begin to split, about 30 minutes. Drain and reserve cooking liquid.
  19. Return pot with beans to medium-low heat. Add in sugar and enough cooking liquid to barely cover the beans (about ½ to ⅔ cup) and let simmer until beans are completely creamy and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. Using a wooden spoon or potato masher, mash beans until desired consistency is reached.
  20. Let cool completely before using.