When growing up in San Francisco there was not a more festive holiday than Chinese New Year. The sidewalks of Market Street would be lined with thousands of people on a usual cold, damp and foggy evening in February to watch the colorful and loud parade. And then there was the star of the parade. The flowing dragon who was both lead and followed by dancers tossing firecrackers to ward off any evil spells. Now, as an adult and away from San Francisco, I still like to celebrate Chinese New Year with the difference being, I do it with food!
Have you ever gone into a Chinese restaurant and order steamed pork buns? Have you ever gone into a dim sum eatery and munched on those little Chinese dumplings filled with the natural sweetness of lychee? In both of these cases the bread surrounding these delicacies was a steamed bread... as a matter-of-fact, it was this steamed bread.
In a recent survey, it seems the number one type of ethnic restuarant for diners is Chinese. This is really no surprise as it seems everyone loves Chinese food, or at least what they consider Chinese food. Fact of the matter is, most Chinese food presented in America is nowhere near what Chinese food actually is.
Unless you have studied the art of Chinese cuisine, of which there are a few regional genres, you might not be aware of Chinese breads. This particular bread is enticing, to say the very least. It is not like most breads simply because it is steamed. The texture is doughy-like. The taste is slightly sweet. It is indeed addictive.
By-the-way, you can fill these before steaming them with BBQ pork to make your own steamed pork buns and make them smaller and fill them with lychee for dim sum dumplings.
Ingredients needed to make Chinese Steamed Bread (makes 6 pieces):
- 3 cups flour
- 1 ½ Tbs. sugar
- 1 ¼ cups water
- 2 tsp. yeast
- 1 Tbs. lard (or vegetable shortening)
- In a small bowl whisk together the sugar, water and yeast. Set the bowl aside 5 minutes for the yeast to proof (foam).
- Into the flour add the lard and cut it into the dough with a pastry blender or your fingertips until it is crumbly. Stir in the proofed yeast to form a dough.
- Remove the dough to a floured surface and knead until smooth. Place the dough back into the bowl, cover and let rise 2 hours.
- Bring three cups of water to a boil in a steamer.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and place of a floured surface. Separate the dough into 6 pieces and form each into a mini loaf.
- Place a piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the steamer basket.
- Place the mini loaves into the steamer and steam 25 minutes.
- Remove from the steam and serves.
The new cookbook from Chef Larry Edwards is now available from Amazon.com and bookstores worldwide. One of the most anticipated cookbooks of the year, "Edwardian Cooking: Inspired by Downton Abbey's Elegant Meals."