Thursday, April 8, 2010

Baked Taro Bao


After making steamed char siu bao, I felt confident enough to try making baked bao.  I didn’t want to do char siu again, though, and I wanted to do a sweet rather than savory bao.  A few options for the filling crossed my mind: custard, cream, red bean, yellow mung bean with ginger, green mung bean, black eyed peas with coconut milk.  In the end, I chose taro because I thought it would be fun to work with fresh taro for the first time.

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Cutting into the taro was a little surprising.  Most taro I’ve seen has been more on the grayish-purplish hue, but this variety was a lot whiter than what I am used to seeing.  I later realized that taro changes color slightly upon cooking, which may explain the discrepancy.  In any case, preparing the taro filling wasn’t too complicated:

  • Peel, cut into thin slices
  • Steam until soft, ~30 minutes
  • Mash
  • Heat oil in cooking vessel
  • Add taro and sugar to taste
  • Cook until thickened

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I followed the same technique and recipe in preparing the bao dough as I did with the steamed char siu bao.  However, to construct the bao, I used a slightly different technique than the steamed bao.  Instead of bringing all the edge of the dough up to the top and twisting to seal, I brought in opposite edges into the center and folded them as if I were wrapping a gift.  I then made sure to bake the bao with the folds on the bottom to give them the distinctively smooth top that baked bao are known for rather than the puffy top that’s common in steamed char siu bao.

I also had some spare cheese in the fridge, so I thought it’d be pretty awesome to fill a bao with cheese.  The cheese was a random mélange of gruyere, mozzarella, and 2 other cheeses I couldn’t make out.  The previous week I discovered that my grocery’s deli sold end cuts of meats and cheeses at dirt cheap prices.  I scored a ton of random yet high quality meats and cheeses for a couple of bucks.

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Baked bao typically has a glaze or egg wash on the top for sweetness and color.  Unfortunately, my egg wash came out a little sloppy.


The bao itself could have turned out better.  It wasn’t light enough for my tastes, but the flavor was there.  At this point, I’m too inexperienced with dough to really know what to do next time to make the bao lighter.  The taro filling turned out well, though, so that sort of offset any shortcomings of the bao.


The cheese-filled bao turned out as awesome as I anticipated.  I mean, how can you really go wrong with gooey, melted cheese?

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