Pandan flavored steamed buns are filled with savory and sweet molten lava salted egg yolks custard filling that will gush out as soon as you take that first bite
I remember eating salted duck eggs with a bowl of rice congee often as a kid. It’s something that is so simple, but yet it’s my favorite. In case you have never tried salted duck eggs (or salted eggs for that matter), the white of the eggs are extremely salty but the yolks, the yolks have that hint of sweetness and just the right amount of savoriness, which I love. It’s something that I don’t know how to describe and I often just describe it as being umami in this modern day.
The mention of salted egg yolks reminded me of liu sha bao. I’ve tried making this liu sha bao twice and they failed miserably. Liu sha bao means literally that the filling is flowing like a lava. Mine didn’t. It’s just like a regular firm custard. Which is not bad actually, but I can’t call that liu sha bao though.
I made mine with coconut oil instead of butter and they are delicious too. I used the same recipe for the steamed pork scallion buns and the recipe for the filling is from a friend. Forever thankful for that 🙂
- 300 gr all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp dry active yeast
- 100 gr sugar
- 1 Tsp baking powder
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil (or you may use shortening)
- 150 ml pandan juice (see note) + 1 tsp water (or as needed)
Filling (recommended to prepare one day before):
- 100 gr butter (softened) or sub with coconut oil (which I did)
- 60 gr regular fine sugar
- 4 pre-cooked salted egg yolks mashed with fork
- 50 ml whole milk
- 80 gr custard powder sieved
Preparing the filling:
Place the softened butter or coconut oil in a large mixing bowl, add in sugar and beat until the color is pale (if using butter. Color will be the same with coconut oil) fluffy with a mixer. Add in milk gradually and mix again. Fold in the mashed egg yolk and sieve in the custard powder
The filling will be still quite runny. Place this in the fridge for 5 minutes. It will harden it a little bit and you can shape it into 15 balls. Place this on top of baking tray line with parchment paper and put them in the freezer and let it freeze for at least 1 hour. I did mine overnight
Preparing the dough:
This recipe doesn't require you to activate the yeast by dissolving it in liquid. Place all the ingredients for basic steamed buns in a mixing bowl of stand mixer with dough hook attachment and knead until the dough comes into a non-sticky dough. Add a bit more water or flour if it's too dry and vice versa
If you are not using stand mixer, mix all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and use your hand to knead until the dough comes together and no longer sticks to your hand
Cover the dough and let it rest for 10 minutes while preparing the filling
Place the dough on a lightly floured surface. Roll into a long log and then divide equally into 15 pieces. Work with one piece at a time and cover the rest to prevent drying. Flatten the dough with your palm and use a small rolling pin to roll into a circle about 5-6 inch in diameter. Place the frozen filling ball in the center of the wrapper and gather all the sides to the middle and pinch to seal. Place it on a parchment paper seam side down. Continue with the rest and place the bao on a large tray cover with large clean towel and let them rise for 30 minutes
Bring the water in a steamer to a boil. Wrap the lid with a cloth. This will prevent water dripping from the lid and too much steam will make the bao wrinkly. Place some of the buns on the steamer and steam on high heat for about 5 minutes. I found that when I steam them for 7 -8 minutes, the filling will burst out. So, 5 minutes work for me. You may need to experiment a bit. Continue with the rest. They are best when served warm. Warn whoever that is eating this that the filling is HOT and it's flowing too (like a lava!)
I usually made this in big batch and store the rest by placing them in a freezer bag. They can be stored up to 1 month. Try not to stack them so they won't stick to each other in the freezer. I store them flat on the freezer. They can be reheat on the steamer for about 5 minutes and as good as new
Pandan juice can be extracted by using about 80-100 gr of pandan leaves. Cut the leaves into 1-inch pieces and then put in a blender with a bit of water to get it going. Blend into a fine paste. Transfer this paste into a cheese cloth and squeeze the juice out as much as you can. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Any longer it will spoil unless you freeze it. Remember to shake the juice a little bit before using.
My kids don’t care much for liu sha bao though. They prefer the regular sweet custard buns. I asked my daugther why she didn’t like it and she said because of the combination of sweet and salty 🙂 My husband loves liu sha bao though and so he was excited to eat these for the first time.
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HOW TO EAT THE LIU SHA BAO ?
No you don’t need a 10-page manual to eat this liu sha bao. It’s a pretty messy business trying to eat this bun though I must warn you. I took that small first bite and with the bun still in the mouth, gently suck in the flowing custard into my mouth so they won’t be dripping and continue with the rest 😉