Learn how to make soft and fluffy Momofuku steamed buns (folding bao buns) that you can use to sandwich anything you want in between those soft steamed bao buns.
FOLDING BAO BUNS
I never heard of Momofuku steamed buns until probably 5 years ago. I’ve never been to any of the Momofuku restaurants. They are definitely made famous here in the U.S. by Momofuku in NYC. My husband loves their steamed buns. Momofuku pork belly buns to be exact. Unlike the regular steamed buns with fillings stuffed inside the buns, the steamed buns are folded in half and can be opened and filled up with whatever you want in between like a sandwich.
I used my basic soft and fluffy Asian steamed bun recipe to make this Momofuku steamed buns. I wrote in more details how to make a soft and fluffy steamed bun in that post if you are interested in reading more about it.
HOW TO SHAPE MOMOFUKU STEAMED BUNS
Now, let’s just move on with how to make Momofuku steamed buns once you have the basic bao buns recipe
Roll each cut dough into a ball and then flatten with your palm and roll into a circle or slightly oval, about 1/2-inch in thickness
Place the parchment paper on one half of the flattened dough
Fold the other half over to form a half circle
Place the shaped buns on a tray or steaming basket, cover with a slightly damp cloth and let them rise for another 30 minutes
WHAT TO SERVE WITH MOMOFUKU STEAMED BUNS
The Taiwanese version known as gua bao is usually sandwiched with a thick slice of pork belly, pickled mustard greens, and some crushed sweet peanuts. I had some leftover char siu and some cucumber and so that’s the version you see here. My husband absolutely loves this version too. You can really put any sliced or chopped meat, pickled veggies like pickled cucumbers or dill pickles.
MY VERSION OF MOMOFUKU CHAR SIU BAO
If you really want to know what I put in here, here’s the breakdown for each bun:
MEAT: 2-3 thinly sliced char siu
VEGGIE: slices of fresh cucumber, chopped green onion
SAUCE: a drizzle of hoisin sauce, kewpie mayo
My husband absolutely loves this combination and so do the kids.
What will you sandwich in between this Momofuku steamed buns?
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How to Make Momofuku Steamed Buns
- Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl, except for the water
- Use a dough attachment hook to knead the dough on medium speed and gradually adding the liquid until the dough comes together and knead until it is smooth and not sticky, about 5 minutes. If you are kneading by hands, you need to knead for around 10 minutes until the dough is really smooth and no longer sticky. The kneading part is very important in yielding that smooth steamed buns
- Divide the dough into 12 equal portions. Look at this instruction for SHAPING INTO ULTRA SMOOTH ROUND BUNS in the recipe card instruction (there's also a short video on this). Follow point 1-7
- Keep the dough balls covered to prevent drying out. Work with one dough at a time. Flatten the dough ball with your palm and use a small roller to roll it out into an oval shape
- Let the dough rise at room temperature. If it's winter where you are, you can use your oven "bread proof" function to let them proof in there, or simply turn on your oven to lowest temperature and then turn off and after 15 minutes, place the shaped buns in there to let them proof. They won't necessarily double in size, but at least puff up to about 50% of original size. Do not overproof your dough
- Most likely your steamer won't be able to accommodate steaming all buns at one go. You may need to steam in 2-3 batches, which means, the rest of the batches will sit longer and continue to proof while waiting for the steamer. Not good for the buns! Here's what you can do: Make sure the cover them with plastic wrap and then place them in the refrigerator to slow down the yeast activity or halt it all together until they are ready to be steamed
- Bring the water in your steamer to a boil. Wrap the lid of your steamer with a kitchen towel to prevent moisture dripping back on the steamed buns as this will create "burn" spots
- LOWER THE HEAT TO LOW (Yes, I type this in caps so you don't miss it!). Place the buns in there, leaving about 1-inch space in between and steamed on medium heat for 10 minutes
- After 10 minutes, turn off the heat. DO NOT OPEN THE LID of the steamer. Let the buns sit there for 5 minutes like this. The buns will not sink or wrinkle due to the sudden change in temperature
- If you make extra and plan to store them, place them on a baking sheet, not touching each other, and then put the entire tray inside the freezer for about 1 hour. They will harden, but not completely frozen yet. Transfer to a freezer bag and they will not stick to each other anymore. Try not to keep for more than 1 month
- Gently open the folded bun and remove the parchment paper in between. Place a slice or two of char siu or pork belly slices, couple of pickles and slices of jalapeno peppers, few fresh cilantro leaves