January 30, 2014

Salt-Free Super Steam Buns

Bao Beauty Shot

Happy almost Super Bowl Chinese New Year.

If you’ve never celebrated before, it’s a very special time of year where people eat dumplings and chicken wings all in the same weekend. Or at least, that’s what is happening in my house. And if you’ve been on the Internet lately you’ve probably been bombarded with different recipes for dim sum, pot stickers, and egg rolls, all loaded with high sodium products (including those ready to use wrappers). Which is why I made something special for you: SUPER SALT-FREE STEAMED BUNS. All so you can celebrate, of course.

First things first, I cannot get over how easy this recipe is.

I played around with theKitchn recipe found here. And all it requires of you is a little patience while the dough rises. The filling requires just a mix of raw ingredients. And then, all that’s left is either a really good pod cast to listen to (or an episode of Good Wife) to watch while you roll and bun. As for the steaming, even if you don’t have a steaming basket, there is a steamer-free solution. Which all means that by the end of the day, you will have hot buns ready to eat and definitely some leftovers for lunch tomorrow.



Bao Bitten

What’s SUPER awesome about these SUPER SALT-FREE STEAMED BUNS though is that you can put anything inside of them. Meaning if you want to make them for game day, go the char sui or mandarin route. Use up leftover BBQ fixings. Or — and stick with me here — try a dollop of chunky salsa, chopped cabbage, and  corn for a spicy southwestern snack.

Steamed buns are now your salt-free canvas. So please explore. And make a big batch for the big week ahead. Just re-steam (or microwave) the next day.

Let’s party. Chow on.


From theKitchn.com Steamed Pork Buns (Bazoi)

makes 16 buns


For the buns

  • 1 tablespoon (1 packet) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water, plus additional as needed
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon sodium-free baking powder

For the filling

  • 8 ounces ground pork or chicken
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped Chinese cabbage
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
  • 2 tablespoons plum, apricot, or dark berry jam
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice wine
  • 1 teaspoon salt-free garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice or cinnamon


In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Let it get bubbly, about 10 minutes.

Then in a separate large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, and baking powder. Add the water slowly into a large bowl, using your hands to slowly mix it in a circular direction. When it begins to form clumps and starts to come together, begin kneading the dough with both hands. Add a little water if the dough is too dry. Add a little flour if the dough is too wet. And once it comes together in a ball, take out the dough and give it a final kneading (on a floured surface) by had, until it is smooth.

Wipe the large bowl clean and then place the dough ball back in. Drizzle with a little sesame oil and use your hands to coat the ball. Cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel and let it rise for 2 to 8 hours (I’ve found that the longer I wait, the fluffier better the dough).

When you’re ready to make the buns, turn on that Good Wife episode. Then, in a medium bowl, mix together all the filling ingredients until well combined. Set aside. Cut 16 squares (approximately 3-inches each) of wax or parchment paper. Spray each square with cooking oil. And set aside.

Give the dough a big punch, to release all that air, and roll it back into a ball. Take it out of the bowl and then divide it in half. Roll each half into a rectangular log. Using a knife or pastry cutter, slice each log into 8 pieces. Roll a slice into a ball, then use a small rolling pin (or any cylindrical tool — I used a spice jar) to shape it into a thin, flat disc (like a pancake). Try to keep the center of the disc thicker than the edges. (

Spoon a dollop of filling into the center of the disc. Pull the edges up around the filling and pinch together to form a bun. Place the bun on a square of parchment paper and set aside. Continue this process with the rest of the dough until all of the buns are filled.

To cook, prepare the steamer basket. Working in batches, position filled buns (still on parchment) into the steamer, allowing room on all sides. The cooked buns will be up to 50 percent larger.

Steam the buns for 15 minutes, then remove the pan and basket from the heat. Let sit for 5 minutes before removing the lid. Remove the parchment paper from the bottom of the buns and serve immediately. Or reheat in steamer basket or microwave (30 minutes) the next day.


In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 teaspoon salt-free garlic powder, 1 cup plum jam, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, and 3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar. Whisk until combined and smooth. Serve cold or warm up in a pot (or microwave) right before it is time to eat.

David Miller April 22, 2015 at 2:54 pm

Such beautiful food you show! Love you guys!

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