Bao Chicka Wow Wow

For the love of Bao, an Asian Street Food

Estimated read time: <6 minutes

For the longest time, I used to think that the best invention that the Asian food industry has made is dim sums. My first appetizer to order at any Pan Asian restaurant, dim sums had been my staple for the longest time. So, as ritual would have it, my friend invited me to dinner at a Taiwanese Restaurant. I obviously asked for chicken dim sums as a starter. My pal stopped me midway and said— “You’re so boring! I invited you here. Now I’ll make you try something new. Thank me later”. She ordered the Bao.

I ended up delving into that wonderfully cushioned burger-like bun that was way better than any bread I had ever tasted! With all sorts of delish fillings, I was literally chewing in slow-motion with my eyes closed, while my friend smirked away to glory. I had no idea that this Asian bread was originally a breakfast dish, later perfected to different varieties all across the globe! I do thank you, dear friend, for introducing me to one of the loveliest snacks I’ve ever come across.

As I reached home, I just had to Google all about the Bao, and ended up finding just about all the answers to any questions you may have about the delicacy.

  • Origins?

 Among numerous stories about the origin of the bao, go with whichever one you like. While some trace it back to China— spreading to other Southeast Asian countries during the Chinese immigration, another theory suggests that it was the Mongolians who introduced the dish to China during the Yuan Dynasty.

  • How did it become so famous?

 The tiny bun became a worldwide sensation when renowned chef David Chang introduced it in his New York eatery. Soon after, restaurants around the globe started to serve their own take on the versatile bao.

  • Best Baos?
  1. Chia Siu Bao: filled with lip-smacking barbecued pork.
  1. Gua Bao: this is the one I had. An open-faced Taiwanese make, it is the one that revolutionized the Bao and drove people to experiment to make their own specialties.
  1. Baozi: also called Giaozi, it has fillings enclosed in the dough, which then goes for a steaming perfection.
  •  Make it at home

 Best sauces to use: hoisin, soy, barbecue, mayo, mustard, hot sauce.

Best veggies to use: pickled chillies, grilled veggies, cucumbers.

Best meat to use: barbecued meat, pan-fried chicken, tempura fish.

Recipe: Although a little cumbersome, making the dough with the correct yeast for the softest Bao is the real win:

  1. Mix flour, caster sugar, dried yeast (dissolved in little salted warm water), milk, sunflower oil, rice vinegar, baking powder with a little water, knead till it comes together as a dough.
  2. Set aside to rise for 1.5 hours.
  3. Roll out, cut into small balls.
  4. Let it rest for 30 minutes.
  5. Roll each ball into an oval disc, fold into two and let it rest again for 30 minutes.
  6. Place in steamer.

Image Credit: YouTube

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