Print
clock icon cutlery icon flag icon folder icon instagram icon pinterest icon facebook icon print icon squares icon heart icon heart solid icon
Vegan Mushroom Bao from Meera Sodha's EAST Cookbook

Vegan Mushroom Bao


Description

There is genuine pleasure to be had in things that feel just right: the weight of a pound coin, a bath at the perfect temperature, the feel of a well-worn wooden spoon. To this list, I’d add the bao: this little bun, a staple of Taiwanese street-food stalls, is ergonomically designed for eating—it fits snugly into the nook of a hand; the pillowy dough gives like memory foam; and the semicircular shape slots cleanly into the mouth.


Ingredients

Scale

For the bao buns

  • 3 cups + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour,
    plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1¼ tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup warm water
  • canola oil

For the pickled cucumber

  • ⅓ cup rice vinegar
  • ½ a cucumber, halved, deseeded,
    and thinly sliced

For the mushroom filling

  • ⅓ cup soy sauce 
  • ¼ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2½ tbsp rice vinegar
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 4 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • lbs oyster and shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • a handful of salted peanuts, ground or finely chopped

Instructions

  1. Start by making the dough. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, then add the water little by little and bring the dough together using your hands; you should have a sticky ball. Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, until smooth and bouncy, then place in an oiled bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and leave in a warm place to double in size for 1 to 1½ hours.
  2. Meanwhile, put the vinegar for the pickled cucumber into a small saucepan with 3 tablespoons of water. Bring to a simmer, then pour into a bowl, add the cucumber, and leave to cool.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, knead for a minute to knock out the air, then divide into 10 equal pieces. Take one piece, flatten it into a ½-inch-thick disk, then brush one half with a little oil. Fold the bun into a half-moon and place on a small square of parchment paper on a tray. Repeat with the remaining dough, then loosely cover the tray with a kitchen towel and leave to rise for 30 minutes more.
  4. Now for the filling. In a small bowl, whisk the soy sauce, peanut butter, vinegar, garlic, and sesame oil. Heat the canola oil in a frying pan on a high flame, then fry the mushrooms for 6 minutes, until soft and browning at the edges. Stir in the sauce to coat, then turn the heat to medium and cook, stirring regularly, for 5 minutes, until the sauce reduces and darkens.
  5. To cook the bao, set a steamer over a pan of simmering water. Put the bao, still on their parchment-paper mats, into the steamer in batches, making sure they don’t touch. Cover and steam for 8 minutes.
  6. Once done, fill each bao with a generous tablespoon of mushrooms, 3 or 4 slices of cucumber and, for a little crunch, some peanuts.

Notes

You’ll need a steamer: the inexpensive bamboo ones are brilliant.