Since I started with food blogging, I have often been asked which food is my favorite one. I must admit that I love to eat and have quite some favorites on my list.
Whether it is an European, Asian or Arab dish, the most important thing for me is the first bite, which should light up my eyes and put a big smile on my face.
On my journey through all those wonderful countries, I have discovered plenty of goodies for my “best of” list. At home in my “laboratory”, my 5 square meter kitchen, I try out a lot, to reproduce those fantastic tastes, which inspired me during my trips and which I could keep in my memory.
Sometimes I am a bit surprised about how good my taste memory is, especially because I am definitely not one of the people who has an outstanding memory capacity.
My good memory about tastes goes back even to dishes from my childhood, which surprises me again and again. One of my favorite foods from my childhood in China is Bao, a kind of steamed stuffed dim sum.
Bao has a wonderfully mellow and soft dough and different savory fillings, according to your wishes made of meat or vegetables. In Chinese Bao means “bag”. This name apparently leads back to the antique time of China.
Some thousands of years ago there were no such kinds of fancy bags as nowadays. The antique Chinese, depending on their wealth, took a piece of square cloth made of cotton or silk to wrap everything into it, with the four corners of the cloth tied together in the middle. This created a round package with two knots in the middle .
The antique Chinese put their arms through the knots and thus held their “Bao” safely in their arms. Super convenient, wasn’t it?
These edible dumplings with their round shape and the wrinkles on the dough look quite similar to the practical “cloth bags” from the antique times. Therefore, these delicious dumplings are baptized by the Chinese with this short but great name: Bao.
In my childhood these juicy tasty dim sum were not easy to get, because it was very time consuming to make them. These little beauties not only t need he craftsmanship but also quite a lot of patience. Therefore usually only at New Year or important traditional Chinese festivals the homemade Bao were for feast.
These pictures are still so alive in my memory, seeing my parents with all my uncles and aunts sitting at the huge round wooden table at my grandparents’ home. Their hands were snow white from the flour. The middle of the round table was covered by hills of small pieces of soft dough, which later were artistically conjured to beautiful dumplings.
All hands were busy. At the same time they were also talking and laughing at everything. This was a beautiful moment of our big family, it was also one of my absolute favorite moments in my childhood.
After crafting, the Bao were allowed to rest briefly and rise to their double size. Then they were put into a steam pot on a water-filled wok. I, at that time a little girl at the age of 6 or 7, was waiting quietly and patiently beside the stove, tacking the rising white steam with my eyes and sucking the fragrant smell greedy with my little nose, as if I wanted to save all the aroma sneaking out of the steam pot in my memory.
Then, there was the sensational moment of “uncovering” the lid of the steam pot. This task was usually entrusted to those adults who were very reliable and responsible. Because the timing of the “uncovering” had to be very accurate in order to achieve the right consistency of the yeast dough. Very often it was my dad, sometimes also my elder aunt.
That moment for me was like a scene in the fairy tale “Aladdin and the wonderlamp”. As the huge lid was removed, a big cloud of hot steam rose up immediately. The upper body of my dad disappeared shortly completely in the steam cloud. When he was visible again, his glasses were completely devious and his hair was wet from steam drops.
He was looking like the ghost coming out of the wonder lamp, which is enfolded in a thick cloud every time when it appears. I, the little girl with the head full of fairy tales, was looking at him with huge reverence and hoped secretly that the Bao were well done with the help of his magic power.
This moment was also a revelation of a mystery. For you never could be sure beforehand, if it was successful or not. My father touched a Bao carefully to make sure that the dough had risen properly. Then he took one of the Bao out of the steam pot and gave me to try. It was such a big honor for me. Because I was able to try it as the first person!
I could not wait any longer to let the Bao chill a little bit and immediately bite into it. It was hot, it was delicious! The dough was really tender, the filling spicy and juicy. The word “yummy” was not enough to describe this amazing taste experience. The wonderlamp had worked! 😉
This taste is since then engraved in my memory. Well, now I finally dared to reproduce this taste for myself, after so many years passed by. And, I also had a wonderlamp. I got THAT taste! It tasted like my childhood. 😀
For the cooking method I decided to fry and steam the Bao at the same time, instead of traditional steaming in a pot filled with water. This gave the mellow and juicy Bao a fantastic crispy pastry base, which is a harmonious contrast to the soft consistency of the Bao .
For the filling:
300g minced meat
½ turnip cabbage
For the marinate of the filling:
3 tsp Charsiu sauce
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tsp rice wine
1 tsp sesame oil
½ teaspoon five-spices powder
½ tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
For the dough:
3g dry yeast
1 tsp vegetable oil
For the flour water for fry steaming:
1 teaspoon flour
- Mix the yeast with the water, then add to the remaining ingredients for the dough, mix with the help of a kitchen machine to a smooth dough.
- Knead the dough briefly with hands on the work surface until the dough gets a smooth surface, cover the dough and rest for about 5 minutes .
- Shape the dough into a longish roll and cut into small pieces (ca. 3cm).
- Flatten each piece of dough and roll out with a rolling pin into a round sheet (ca. 6cm).
- Pour the filling on each round sheet. Pull up the edge of the dough sheet with your index finger and thumb of the right hand, press together, turn the dumpling a bit and repeat until the dumplings is completely closed.
- Place the Bao into the bamboo steamer set which is covered with wax paper, let it rise with closed lid for about 30 minutes.
- Pour frying oil in a big pan so that the bottom is thinly covered. Distribute the Bao in the pan. Add the flour water. Garnish the Bao with sesame seeds . Cook with closed lid for about 10 minutes until the water in the pan is completely evaporated. Lift off the lid and check whether the bottom of the Bao is already golden brown. If yes, bon appetite!
- Or, you can also just steam the Bao: put the steam set on a pot filled with water and steam for about 15 minutes at high heat.
Congratulations to your own wonder lamp! 😉