It’s no secret that bao buns are probably my favorite portable meal.
These super fluffy steamed buns are stuffed with tender sweet potato infused with aromatics like lemongrass, shallot, garlic, and chili. It’s packed with umami, easy to prepare, and extra delicious!
WHAT ARE BAO BUNS
Baozi in Chinese, or Bánh bao in Vietnamese, are steamed buns stuffed with a sweet or salty filling. These buns first appeared in China during the Three Kingdoms period, but they are now available in most Asian countries. Bao buns are often served warm as street food, making it the perfect portable meal!
There are thousands of different types of bao, this recipe is definitely not authentic but super delicious!
HOW TO MAKE BAO BUNS
First, we start by preparing the dough. Mix flour, yeast, sugar, salt, oil, and water until it forms a dough. You want to use bao flour for this recipe, this flour is more refined and contains tapioca starch as well as baking powder, resulting in a fluffier texture and a whiter color. Regular flour could be used, but be aware that the buns won’t be as light and will have a yellow color.
Once the dough is ready, let it proof for about one and a half hour. In the meantime, let’s prepare the filling!
Sauté aromatics like minced lemongrass, shallots, garlic, and chili. Next, add thinly sliced shiitakes and black mushrooms, and finally shredded sweet potato. Cook for 7-10 minutes, or until the sweet potato is tender.
The final step is the wrapping and steaming. Flatten a ball of dough into a thin circle, place the filling on top, and wrap the dough around the filling tightly. I recommend checking out this video if you want to see how the process looks like.
Steam the buns for about 20 minutes and enjoy warm! The bun is almost as tender as a brioche and the filling is salty/sweet, spicy, and super moist!
These are great for lunch, but also for weeknight dinners. You can also make smaller buns to serve as appetizers!
Looking for more steamed bun recipes? Check out this Sate Tofu Bao with Kale Pesto, Crispy Mushroom & Chick’n Gua Bao, or if you are up for something sweet, check out these Chocolate Filled Totoro Buns!
Let me know in the comments if you try this recipe!
Sweet Potato Steamed Buns (Bao)
- Bamboo Steamer
- 1 and 1/2 cup bao flour
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp oil
- 1/2 tsp dry yeast
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 shallot minced
- 1 tbsp minced lemongrass
- 1 clove of garlic minced
- 2 tbsp chopped green onions
- 1/4 tsp chopped red chili (optional, only if you like it spicy)
- 1 tbsp dry wood ear mushrooms soaked in hot water for 10 minutes
- 2 dry shiitakes soaked in hot water for 10 minutes
- 1 medium sweet potato shredded and then cut into 1/2-inch shreds
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/8 tsp ground black pepper or more to taste
- Add the bao flour, water, sugar, oil, dry yeast, and salt to a mixing bowl. Knead until it forms a smooth dough, about 5 minutes. Cover with a clean wet cloth and let it proof in a warm place for about 1 and 1/2 hour, or until it has almost doubled in size. In the meantime, prepare the filling.
- Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the minced shallot, lemongrass, garlic, green onions, and chili if using. Sauté for about 2 minutes.
- Drain and finely cut the shiitakes and black mushrooms and add to the skillet. Sauté for another 2 minutes.
- Add the shredded sweet potato and 2 tablespoons of water. Cook for 7-10 minutes, or until the sweet potato is tender.
- In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, water, cornstarch, sugar, and black pepper. Add to the skillet and stir to coat. Cook for 1 more minute. Remove from heat and let cool for about 15 minutes. Scoop out about 3 tbsp of the sweet potato filling and squeeze it into a ball using your hands (you can also use a cookie scoop to make it easier). Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining filling.
- Punch the dough down and divide it into 8 balls (6 if you want larger buns). Cover with plastic film to prevent them from drying. Take one ball and flatten it into a circle of about 4-inch diameter. Place the sweet potato filling in the middle of the dough and wrap the dough around it. Check out this video to get an idea on how to wrap it. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and place your bamboo steamer over it. Depending on the size of your steamer, place 3-4 buns inside, leaving about 2-inch between each (they will rise). Steam for 17-20 minutes. Remove from heat and repeat with the remaining buns.
- Enjoy warm, or at room temperature! These buns will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. Reheat in the steamer for 7-10 minutes.