Green China Restaurant

Chinese Steamed Buns

Chinese steamed buns, known as “baozi” or simply “bao,” are delightful pillows of dough filled with various savory or sweet fillings. These fluffy treats have been a staple in Chinese cuisine for centuries, cherished for their soft texture and delicious flavors. Whether enjoyed as a quick breakfast snack or as part of a dim sum feast, steamed buns hold a special place in the hearts (and stomachs) of many.

Chinese Steamed Buns

Prep Time:

30 mins

Cook Time:

45 mins

Additional Time:

3 hrs 30 mins

Total Time:

4 hrs 45 mins

Servings:

24

Yield:

24 buns

Origins and History

Steamed buns have a rich history that dates back to ancient China. They are believed to have originated during the Three Kingdoms period (220-280 AD), although some historical records suggest an even earlier origin. Initially, these buns were simple and made from flour and water, typically eaten by farmers and laborers for a quick and filling meal.

Over time, as culinary techniques evolved, so did the steamed bun. Fillings began to vary widely, ranging from minced pork with savory seasonings to sweet red bean paste. Regional preferences also influenced the style and ingredients used, resulting in a diverse array of steamed buns found across China.

Chinese Steamed Buns

Types of Chinese Steamed Buns

Chinese steamed buns come in several distinct varieties, each offering a unique taste and texture experience:

1. Char Siu Bao (Barbecue Pork Buns)

Char siu bao are perhaps the most well-known type of steamed bun outside of China. They feature a fluffy, slightly sweet dough filled with a savory mixture of barbecue-flavored pork. The pork filling is typically seasoned with soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and other spices, creating a flavorful contrast to the soft bun.

2. Xiaolongbao (Soup Dumplings)

Although not strictly a “baozi,” xiaolongbao is another popular steamed delicacy in Chinese cuisine. These delicate dumplings are filled with hot, savory broth along with a small amount of pork or shrimp filling. The key feature of xiaolongbao is the thin, translucent wrapper that contains the hot soup, making it both a culinary delight and a challenge to eat without spilling.

3. Mantou (Plain Steamed Buns)

Mantou are the simplest form of Chinese steamed buns, consisting of basic dough without any filling. They are often served alongside dishes like braised pork belly or dipped in condensed milk for a sweet treat. Mantou can also be shaped and steamed in various forms, such as twisted or folded, depending on the occasion.

4. Baozi with Various Fillings

In addition to char siu bao, baozi can be filled with a wide range of ingredients, including but not limited to:

  • Vegetarian Fillings: Such as chopped vegetables, tofu, or mushrooms, seasoned with soy sauce and sesame oil.
  • Sweet Fillings: Such as red bean paste, lotus seed paste, or even custard for a dessert version of steamed buns.
Chinese Steamed Buns

Preparation and Cooking Methods

Making Chinese steamed buns involves a straightforward process but requires patience and attention to detail. The dough is typically made from flour, water, yeast, and a small amount of sugar or oil. After kneading and allowing the dough to rise, it is divided into small portions and rolled into balls. Each ball is then filled with the desired filling, sealed, and left to rest before steaming.

Steaming is the preferred cooking method for Chinese steamed buns, as it preserves their soft texture and allows the flavors of the filling to meld with the dough. Buns are placed in bamboo steamers lined with parchment or cabbage leaves to prevent sticking. They are then steamed over boiling water for about 10-15 minutes until fluffy and cooked through.

Chinese Steamed Buns
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 24
Calories 44
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 1g1%
Saturated Fat 0g1%
Sodium 35mg2%
Total Carbohydrate 8g3%
Dietary Fiber 0g1%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 1g2%
Calcium 8mg1%
Iron 1mg3%
Potassium 20mg0%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. The amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

Chinese Steamed Buns

Cultural Significance

Beyond their culinary appeal, Chinese steamed buns hold cultural significance in Chinese society. They are often enjoyed during festive occasions such as Chinese New Year, symbolizing prosperity and togetherness. Steamed buns are also a common offering at temples and ancestral altars as a gesture of respect and remembrance.

In modern times, steamed buns have gained popularity worldwide, thanks to the global spread of Chinese cuisine. You can now find variations of baozi in Asian markets, restaurants, and even food trucks in many major cities, catering to diverse tastes and preferences.

Conclusion

Chinese steamed buns are more than just a food item; they are a symbol of tradition, craftsmanship, and culinary creativity. Whether filled with savory pork, sweet bean paste, or inventive new flavors, these fluffy delights continue to captivate food enthusiasts around the globe. From their humble origins in ancient China to their current status as a beloved street food, steamed buns offer a delicious journey through Chinese culinary history and culture.

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