Bánh Bao (Vietnamese Steamed Pork Buns)

Bánh Bao is a Vietnamese steamed pork bun that is perfect for breakfast, a light lunch, or for snacking. The inside of these pockets of goodness are loaded with umami-flavor filled pork, eggs, and Chinese sausages. Making these baos are definitely a labor of love, but it is definitely worth making!

Ingredients
(For approx 24 Banh Baos)
Dough
-48 oz of banh bao flour (3 x 16 oz bags) -remove 80 g of flour to reserve for kneading dusting
-425 g of sugar
-2.5 cups whole milk
-20 g lemon juice
-57 g canola oil

Filling
-1/2 large onion
-380 g jicama
-2 lb pork butt, grounded
-25 g woodear mushroom, chopped
-1 tsp garlic, finely diced
-1 tsp black pepper
-1 tsp mushroom seasoning
-66 g soy sauce
-30 g oyster sauce
-21 g rice flour
-65 g sugar
-6 eggs, boiled, de-shelled, and quartered (or 1 quail egg per Bao)
-7 oz of lap xuong (Chinese-style sausage)

For steaming
Water
Splash of vinegar

Procedure
Dough
1. Add banh bao flour and sugar into a mixing bowl. Begin mixing and gradually add whole milk to bowl. Knead until dough forms with slightly stretchy consistency.
Note: If using a stand mixer, mix with the dough hook attached. Approx. 15 minutes of kneading.
2. Mix for 15 minutes, then add canola oil and lemon juice.
3. Mix for another 10 minutes.
4. After well mixed, let dough stand at room temperature for one hour.

Filling
1. Add all ingredients except the boiled eggs and Chinese-style sausage into a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly
Note: If using a stand mixer, mix with flat beater attached. Approx 10 minutes of mixing.
2. Shape the mixed filling into approx 3 inch spheres.

Bao Formation
1. Dust your work area and hands with banh bao flour.
2. Form approximately 2 inch dough spheres with your hands, and roll out the dough into a thin circle (about 5 inches in diameter) using a rolling pin.
2. Place the filling on top of the dough.
3. Add some slices of Chinese sausage and a quarter egg to the filling. Compress the sausage and egg into the filling to and form a spherical shape.
4. Bring the dough up over the filling and fold on top of each other. Seal the dough by pinching together.
5. Place the closed bao on top of a parchment paper cut into a circle the same size as the bao.

Steaming
1. Add water and vinegar to the bottom of a steamer. Bring the liquid to a boil.
2. Steam the bao buns for 15 minutes in steamer, then remove steamer lid and shake off excess moisture from the lid.
3. Place lid back on steamer and steam for another 6 minutes.
4. Remove bao buns from steamer and let cool.

Observations
-Adding vinegar to your steaming water helps keep the dough from discoloring
-Although not necessary, having a stand mixer (with dough hook and mixing apparatus) is highly encouraged for this recipe
-Reheating: Place bao in microwave on high for ~45 seconds. Let cool and enjoy!

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