Wednesday, May 8, 2013

I love cooking - Homemade steamed buns (Mantou)

I don't really feel like I'm good at much... well not much that is useful in the world... or even interesting. I often think, 'In a zombie apocalypse, would I survive?' I can't sew well enough to keep your clothes on if you move too much. I can only crochet in circles. I've never hunted. I shot clay pigeons and was fairly successful at that, so I guess that doesn't totally rule out my survival. I built "forts" in the woods when I was a kid, but I think if you saw those, you wouldn't put your survival in my hands. I can't identify as many plants as I would like. I know most of the poisonous stuff, but what can I eat? I'm not very good at baking. I don't know much about stars and navigation. I wish I did. I can't carve a canoe out of a tree. I don't know how to use a weaving loom or create pottery. Do you see my point? Sometimes I feel so... useless.

Gosh...what can I do? I guess I can fish. I can clean the fish too (although not well). I'm pretty good at fixing and installing things around the house. I fix the plumbing. I install switches, outlets, fixtures, and A/C panels. I enjoy gardening and do alright getting things to grow. I think I'm pretty good at cooking. I'm no 5-star chef, but I do well enough to surprise myself. "Wow...did I cook that?" I'm not bad at Kung Fu (does that count? haha).  So, I guess I'll end up being the village farmer and cook if the world comes crashing to the ground. It's something I really enjoy. Cooking. Sorry, my brain took a detour.

Today, Pam and Jessica came to my house to make steamed buns. I love those things! I don't make my own dough when I cook, and these recipes teach how to do that. We were going to use a bread maker, but we decided to do it by hand. It wasn't too hard. We followed the recipes on these blogs:

We first started with the steamed pork buns. I won't repeat the instructions here because you can easily follow the great job those bloggers did at posting instructions, but I can show you some pictures and give you some tips. The steamed pork buns can be eaten as a meal. The plain steamed buns (mantou) are good with breakfast (or for breakfast). They make a great snack too! You can freeze the dough, and then thaw, steam, and eat later as well.

Mixing the dough. I recommend putting the dough in a glass bowl with a lid, and then put the glass bowl in a larger bowl of hot water to speed up the rising process.

Chopping the vegetables

There was lots of chopping

The Maangchi blog gives great instructions filled with pictures and a video

We used bamboo steamers. For the pork buns, make sure they aren't touching before cooking. They will grow as they steam. You can put them on wax/parchment paper or in little cupcake papers.

Use your thumb to push in the stuffing while you use the other hand to fold, pinch, and twist the top of the dough. Make sure you roll out each circle of dough so that it's a little thicker in the middle than on the sides. This will prevent tearing.

They aren't always as pretty as you want the first time you make them, but they sure are yummy!

Pam rolling out the dough for the mantou. We doubled the recipe.

Make sure you really thin out the dough before rolling it up like a log. Keep it very tight as you do this.
It should look like this when you cut it.

We put each little bun on parchment paper (you can use wax paper too) so that they don't stick to the steamers. Don't judge our multi-sized buns. It was our first time.

Steaming the buns for 20 minutes. Make sure to check on the amount of water left in the pot as they steam so that you don't ruin your pot.

Steamed buns. Ours were a little thick, but still good. Lessons, eh?
I hope that you enjoyed the pictures, and that it inspires you to try something new. Making this many steamed buns as beginners (and talkers) took us about 5 hours from start to finish with two small bamboo steamers. We made the dough for each type of bun separately and didn't start the second recipe until we were convinced that we had made the first one correctly. We didn't want too much going on at one time. So if you make these, it won't take as long, especially if you are only using one of the recipes instead of both in the same day.

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