Gluten Free Steamed Bao Buns with Tofu and Kimchi. Vegetarian Recipe.

Classic Chinese steamed buns get fusion twist. Warm fluffy beetroot buns filled with Indonesian style spicy tofu, tender eggplant, authentic Korean kimchi and sweet soy sauce.

Looks too tricky? But actually, it is very easy to make at home if you have a steamer. I recommend you prepare more buns because it is so incredibly delicious that is never enough.

Let`s start from gluten-free steamed buns.

The first step is to make red coloring using beets. Buy a can of beets and use just the juice from the can. Or steam or roast fresh beets, then grate or puree the cooked, cooled beets, and mix the beet pulp into a dough to add natural color. Or just mix one peeled and cubed beetroot with one cup of warm water in the blender, then strain using a fine sieve.

Mix together using a whisker warm (but not hot) beetroot juice, yeast, sugar and cooking oil. When mix will start bubbling, it takes 5-10 minutes, add flour, baking powder and salt. Knead about 8 minutes until you get a smooth, supple dough. Add another tablespoon of flour during kneading process if dough too sticky.

I use all-purpose gluten-free mix flour from Edmonds brand (New Zealand), but any all-purpose flour suitable in this recipe

Place the dough in the oiled glass bowl, cover with damp tea towel and let it rise minimum twice at a warm place. I keep it in the 50C oven about 2 hours.

Roll out the dough into a long sausage shape. Divide the dough into 12 equal balls.  Cover the balls with a piece of cling wrap or damp tea towel. It helps to prevent drying.

Dust with flour work surface and rolling pin. Roll the dough, create an oval shape using a rolling pin.

Grease the surface of dough with cooking oil using a brush and fold dough in half. It helps easy to open buns when it will be ready. Put the bun on a square of parchment paper.

Fill steamer with about an inch of water. Place buns into the steamer and let them rest for 30 minutes: they will rise a little.

Traditional Chinese steamers are made from bamboo, and they still remain the standard for home use today. They are cheap, efficient, and almost perfectly designed to do the job. The great thing about bamboo steamers combined with wok pan is that because of the sloping shape of a wok’s sides, any sized steamer will work in your wok, so long as it’s diameter is smaller than your wok’s. If you do not have a bamboo steamer, It is possible to use multi-purpose, stainless steel steamer. The condensation can collect on the lid and drip down onto your buns. Luckily, there’s a cheap and easy solution: all you need is a tea towel. Just drape the towel over steamer lid, and place the lid back on top.

Turn on the heat to high and set the steamer with buns on the stove. When you begin seeing steam rise from the top of the steamer, reduce heat to medium and set your timer for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, turn off heat. Do not open steamer – let the buns rest for 1 minute. Don’t overheat the buns, they can change the color and become hard and chewy.

Use the buns immediately. Reheat them for a minute or so in the steamer if necessary.

 

How to make Indonesian style tofu for Bao buns filling.

For best result drain the tofu for at least a half hour. Drained tofu absorb more sauce and have a more rich taste. This is how I drain it: place the block of tofu in a colander on a few layers of paper towel. Place a small plate and something heavy on top of it. Place the colander over bowl or pot.

How to make tofu taste special?  After you’re done pressing your tofu, it’s ready to absorb flavor. I use for marinade traditional Indonesian spices and herbs – turmeric powder, ginger, garlic, lemongrass, kaffir lime, chili and coriander powder. Full-fat coconut milk is the base of most Indonesian curries, I use it as a marinade base for richness and creamy taste.

Cut tofu into slices. In a shallow dish, combine warm coconut milk with herbs and spices finely chopped or mixed in a food processor into the paste. Add tofu and ensure that it`s evenly coated. Marinate tofu at least a few hours.

Tip: Save coconut marinade leftover, you can keep it in the fridge a few days and use for delicious Indonesian curry.

 

Place marinated tofu on the tray lined with baking paper. Bake tofu at 200C oven for about 20 minutes until golden brown.

How to cook eggplant for Bao buns filling.

Eggplant is a very good absorbent and absorbs a lot of oil during frying. Usually, the dish turns out too oily. Here I use a trick that helps to make this dish low in oil. Heat a large frying pan over high heat and cook the eggplant without oil flipping over occasionally. I don`t recommend to use the nonstick pan. Nonstick pan starts to release toxins when overheated.

Cook the eggplant till golden brown. Turn down the heat on medium low. Add 2 tablespoons of cooking oil, season with salt and black pepper, flip over and cook 3 minutes more. Set aside and keep eggplants warm.

 

When all the components are ready we can start serving. Open each bun and fill with a slice of eggplant, oven baked tofu and heaped tablespoon of kimchi.

Spicy tangy Sum Yum kimchi from my favorite Living Goodness brand works surprisingly well in this dish. Chinese cabbage, pak choy, spring onion and mild chili fermented using authentic Korean recipe that been stolen by kiwi. A jar of the authentic good stuff. This is interesting fact that the process of fermentation of kimchi not only enhances the taste but also creates healthy bacteria, Lactobacillus which is required by the body to keep a healthy state of intestinal flora. Therefore, I try to add more fermented foods to my daily menu.

Garnish Bao buns with kale leaf and drizzle with kecap manis sauce. Eat while they’re still warm.

Kecap Manis is Indonesian sweet soy sauce made with palm sugar; slightly thicker and sweeter than regular soy sauce.

Make your own gluten free kecap manis. Mix together tamari sauce and palm sugar in ratio 1:1. Then boil the mixture until sugar dissolves. Tamari is gluten-free soy sauce made with soybeans and no wheat.

Ingredients

For 10 buns:

  • 1 Cup of warm water
  • 1 Medium size beetroot
  • 1,5 Tsp dry yeast
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 Tsp Himalayan salt
  • 1/2 Tsp gluten-free baking powder 
  • 3 Cups all-purpose gluten-free flour (I used Edmonds brand, All purpose Gluten Free flour)

+ Baking paper

+ Canola oil for buns greasing

Directions

  1. Combine one peeled and cubed beetroot with one cup of warm water in the blender, mix it well, then strain using a fine sieve.
  2. Mix warm beetroot juice, yeast, sugar and cooking oil. When mix will start bubbling, it takes 5-10 minutes add the flour, baking powder and salt. Knead about 8 minutes until you get a smooth, supple dough.
  3. Place the dough in the oiled glass bowl, cover with damp tea towel and let it rise minimum twice at a warm place about 2 hours.
  4. Divide the dough into 12 equal balls. Roll the dough, create an oval shape using a rolling pin.
  5. Brush the surface with cooking oil and fold dough in half. Put the bun on a square of parchment paper.
  6. Fill steamer with about an inch of water and set on the stove. Place buns into the steamer and let them rest for 30 minutes: they will rise a little.
  7. Turn on the heat to high. When you begin seeing steam rise from the top of the bamboo steamer, reduce heat to medium and set your timer for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, turn off heat. Do not open steamer – let the buns rest for 1 minute.
  8. Use the buns immediately. Reheat them for a minute or so in the steamer if necessary.

Ingredients

For filling.

Indonesian style tofu:

  • 300g Firmed tofu, drained
  • 2 Cups warm coconut milk
  • 2 Tsp Turmeric powder
  • 1Tsp Coriander powder
  • 4 Lemongrass stalks, white part only, crushed and finely chopped
  • 4 Kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped
  • 4 Garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 Tbsp grated ginger
  • Chopped green chili, optional
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Himalayan salt

To Serve:

  • 12 slices of eggplant
  • Oil for frying
  • 1 Cup of kimchi (I use my fav from Living Goodness)
  • Indonesian sweet soy sauce Kecap Manis
  • Kale leaves 

Directions

  1. Cut tofu into slices. In a shallow dish, combine warm coconut milk with herbs and spices finely chopped or mixed in a food processor into the paste. Add tofu and ensure that it`s evenly coated. Marinate tofu at least a few hours.
  2. Preheat the oven up to 200C. Place marinated tofu on the tray lined with baking paper. Bake tofu for about 20 minutes until golden brown.
  3. Heat a large frying pan over high heat and cook the eggplant without oil flipping over occasionally. Cook the eggplant till golden brown. Turn down the heat on medium low. Add 2 tablespoons of cooking oil, season with salt and black pepper, flip over and cook 3 minutes more. Set aside and keep eggplants warm.

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