If you're a Chinese cuisine fan and haven't yet indulged in sheng jian bao 生 煎 包, you're in for a treat. Picture this: a thin, doughy exterior with a crispy bottom, encasing a juicy and flavorful filling that bursts with each bite. Are you drooling yet? Well, get ready to dive into the delectable world of sheng jian bao and discover how you can create these heavenly morsels in the comfort of your own kitchen.
Originating from the vibrant streets of Shanghai, sheng jian bao, also known as pan-fried buns, is a beloved street food that has won the hearts of dumpling enthusiasts worldwide. With a rich history dating back centuries, these pan-fried delights have evolved into a staple in Chinese cuisine, satisfying cravings and capturing imaginations with their incredible taste and texture.
In this blog post, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to make sheng jian bao from scratch. We'll dive into the secrets of achieving the perfect dough, share some tantalizing filling ideas, and walk you through the delicate pan-frying process to ensure that coveted crispy bottom.
Sheng Jian Bao 生 煎 包: Pan-Fried Vegetable Buns
1 hour and 35 minutes
For the dough:
For the filling:
1. Combine sugar and yeast in warm water in a small bowl, allowing it to rest for a few minutes until it forms a frothy texture. If nothing happens, your yeast may be too old, and the yeast is no longer active, or your water was too hot and killed all the yeast.
2. Take a large mixing bowl and blend the flour and salt together. Create a well in the center and pour in the yeast mixture. Slowly mix the flour and liquid until a seamless and flexible dough is formed.
3. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, covering it with a moist cloth, and allow it to rest in a warm location for approximately 1 hour or until it doubles in size.
1. In a stir-fry pan, scramble your eggs and then finely chop them into small pieces.
2. In a boiling pot, cook your vermicelli according to packaging instructions and then chop them into about 1-2 cm long after it is done.
3. Finely chop your chive, mushrooms, and shred your carrots into small pieces.
4. In a large bowl, combine the cooked vermicelli noodles, wood ear mushrooms, grated carrot, chives, scrambled eggs, soy sauce, sesame oil, minced ginger, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Thoroughly blend the ingredients until they are evenly incorporated.
Assemble The Buns
1. After the dough has doubled in size, deflate it by gently punching it down to release any trapped air bubbles. Then, transfer the dough onto a floured surface and shape it into a long log by rolling it out.
2. Slice the log into small, uniform pieces measuring around 1-2 inches in diameter each. Press each piece with your palm to create a small circular shape. Utilize a rolling pin to flatten each circle into a thin, round wrapper, ensuring that the center is slightly thicker than the edges.
3. Place the wrapper in the palm of your hand, and then place 2-3 tablespoons of filling in the center. You want to make sure you place enough filling, but not to the point you can't fold it. Use your other hand and fold the edge anti-clockwise by pinching with your thumb and index finger until the bao is sealed. Continue performing this process with the remaining dough and filling.
4. Place each bao dumpling in a lightly dusted pan and leave some space in between each to prevent them from sticking together as they will expand. Once you are done, let them rest for 15 for the dough to rise again. Allowing the bao to rest at room temperature will start the proof processing again, resulting in fluffier texture baos. You will notice the bun denser if you don't let your dough rest.
Fry The Baos
1. Heat avocado oil in a large frying pan on medium heat. You want to ensure your pan is coated with oil so the baos don't stick to your pan when pan-frying. When the oil is hot, cautiously place the Sheng Jian Bao in the pan with the sealed side facing downwards. Be sure to leave adequate space between each dumpling to prevent them from adhering to one another.
2. Pan-fry the baos for approximately 2-3 minutes until the bottoms acquire a golden brown hue. Next, pour around 1/4 cup of water into the pan and promptly cover it with a lid. Steam the baos for an additional 5-6 minutes until the wrappers become translucent and the filling is cooked through.
3. Once the water evaporates completely, remove the lid and continue cooking for another minute or two to crisp up the bottoms. Then transfer pan-fried baos to a plate and sprinkle your toppings (toasted sesame seeds and green onions).
Tips & Notes
Dough consistency: Pay attention to the texture of the dough when preparing it. The dough should possess a soft, smooth texture with a slight elasticity. If it feels excessively sticky, incorporate a small amount of additional flour. Conversely, if the dough appears too dry, sprinkle some water and knead it until it attains the desired consistency.
Resting time: Allow the dough ample time to rest and undergo the rising process after kneading. This step allows the gluten to relax, making the dough easier to work with and resulting in a lighter texture. Aim for at least an hour of resting time or until the dough doubles in size.
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2.1g
Saturated Fat 0.4g
Total Carbohydrate 26.6g
Dietary Fiber 1.2g
Total Sugars 0.6g
Vitamin D 3mcg
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Filling moisture: When preparing the filling, ensure that it's not too watery. Excess moisture can make the dumpling wrappers soggy and difficult to seal. Squeeze out any excess liquid from the vegetables, especially if you're using ingredients like mushrooms or cabbage.
Proper sealing: Take care when pleating and sealing the baos. The key is to press the edges firmly together to prevent any leakage during cooking. Ensure that the filling is evenly distributed and refrain from overfilling the baos to promote even cooking.
Crispy bottom: Achieving a crispy bottom is one of the highlights of Sheng Jian Bao. To achieve this, start by pan-frying the baos in oil until the bottoms are golden brown. Subsequently, pour water into the pan and cover it with a lid to steam the baos. This combination of frying and steaming ensures a crispy bottom while cooking the baos.
Proper cooking time: Monitor the cooking time carefully to prevent the baos from being undercooked or overcooked. Cook them over medium heat to ensure even cooking and a crispy yet tender texture. Modify the cooking time as necessary to attain your desired level of browning and doneness.
Dipping sauce: Pair your homemade Sheng Jian Bao with a delicious dipping sauce to elevate the flavors. Traditional options include a mixture of light soy sauce, vinegar, and a touch of sesame oil. Feel free to explore your creativity and experiment with various sauces to match your personal taste preferences.
What Is Sheng Jian Bao
Originating from Shanghai, Sheng Jian Bao, also known as Sheng Jian Mantou, is a traditional Chinese dumpling. Shanghai pan-fried pork bun is a popular street food and a beloved snack in Chinese cuisine. Sheng Jian Bao is similar to its better-known cousin, the steamed soup dumpling or Xiaolongbao, but with a delightful twist.
These pan-fried baos are typically made with a dough wrapper that is thicker and chewier than other dumplings' delicate and thin skins. The dough is made from a mixture of all-purpose flour, water, yeast, and sometimes a pinch of sugar for added flavor. The dough is shaped into small circles, filled with a savory mixture, and then pleated and sealed to enclose the filling.
The traditional bun usually consists of a combination of minced pork, aromatic vegetables like green onions and ginger, and a flavorful mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, and other seasonings. You can often find pan-fried pork buns on Chinese restaurant menus. However, some variations feature different fillings, such as shrimp, vegetables, or even vegetarian options.
What sets Sheng Jian Bao apart is its cooking method. The name "Sheng Jian Bao," which translates to "raw fried buns," aptly describes the cooking method of directly frying the buns without any pre-cooking involved. After the baos are formed, they are placed in a hot, oiled pan with the pleated side facing up. As the baos are pan-fried, their bottoms develop a delightful crispness and a golden brown color, while the tops retain a soft and fluffy texture. Then, a small amount of water is added to the pan, which is immediately covered to steam the dumplings, ensuring the filling cooks through.
What is the difference between Sheng Jian Bao and Soup Dumplings?
Sheng Jian Bao and Chinese soup dumplings, also known as Xiao long bao, are both types of Chinese dumplings but differ in several ways, particularly in their cooking methods and textures. Sheng Jian Bao is pan-fried, while soup dumplings are steamed. Sheng Jian Bao is cooked in a hot oiled pan, allowing the bottoms to become crispy and golden brown through pan-frying. On the other hand, soup dumplings are delicate and steamed in bamboo baskets, which results in a softer texture.
The dough used for Sheng Jian Bao is thicker and chewier compared to the thin and delicate dough used for soup dumplings. Sheng Jian Bao has a more substantial wrapper that holds up to the pan-frying process, while soup dumplings have a thinner wrapper that is delicate and translucent.
The filling of Sheng Jian Bao is typically a mixture of minced pork, vegetables, and seasonings, resulting in a juicy and flavorful center. In contrast, soup dumplings have a delicate and rich broth inside the dumpling, along with a small amount of ground pork filling or seafood filling. The soup is created by adding gelatinized broth that turns into a liquid when steamed, giving the dumplings their signature "soup in the filling" characteristic.
What Ingredients You Will Need To Make Vegetable Sheng Jian Bao
Vermicelli noodles add a delightful texture to the filling. They are thin, translucent noodles made from rice, cornstarch, or mung bean starch. When cooked, they become soft and tender. By absorbing the flavors of the other ingredients, they contribute a subtle and delicate element to the filling, enhancing its overall taste profile. If vermicelli noodles are unavailable, you can substitute them with thin rice noodles or even finely chopped cabbage for a similar texture.
Wood Ear Mushrooms
Wood ear mushrooms, also known as black fungus, have a unique texture and subtle earthy flavor. They contribute a chewy and slightly crunchy texture to the filling, adding an interesting contrast. If wood ear mushrooms are not accessible, you can substitute them with shiitake mushrooms or any other mushrooms of your choice. Just ensure they are finely chopped before using.
The grated carrot introduces a hint of sweetness and imparts a vibrant color to the filling. It provides a refreshing crunch and balances the other savory flavors in the baos. If you don't have carrots, substitute them with grated zucchini, bell pepper, or even finely chopped water chestnuts for a similar crunch and sweetness.
Chives contribute a mild onion-like flavor to the filling. They add a fresh and aromatic element to the baos. Chives can be replaced with finely chopped green onions or scallions if needed.
The scrambled eggs will enhance the texture and add flavors to the baos. You can omit the eggs if you are seeking a vegan or egg-free option.
The addition of soy sauce infuses the filling with a savory and umami-rich flavor. It enhances the overall taste and helps to balance the other ingredients. With its combination of salty and slightly sweet notes, it brings depth and complexity to the dish. If soy sauce is unavailable or you prefer an alternative, you can use tamari sauce as a substitute. Tamari, a gluten-free soy sauce crafted without wheat, serves as an excellent option for individuals with gluten sensitivities or allergies.
Sesame oil brings the filling a rich, nutty, and toasty flavor. By adding depth and complexity, it contributes to the overall taste profile. Additionally, the aroma of sesame oil elevates the sensory experience of the dish. If sesame oil is unavailable, you can consider flavored or nut oil.
Ginger is a versatile and widely used ingredient in various cuisines, including Chinese cuisine. In the vegetable Sheng Jian Bao filling, ginger plays a significant role in flavor enhancement and adding a distinct aromatic note. Ginger adds a warm, slightly spicy, and pungent flavor to the filling. It brings a zesty and refreshing taste that complements the other ingredients. Its unique flavor profile contributes to the overall complexity of the dish.
If fresh ginger is not available, use ground ginger. Remember that ground ginger possesses a more concentrated flavor, necessitating appropriate adjustment of the quantity. Begin with a smaller amount and gradually increase it to achieve the desired taste.
Garlic is a beloved ingredient used in many cuisines around the world, including Chinese cooking. In the vegetable Sheng Jian Bao filling, garlic adds a robust and savory flavor that enhances the overall taste profile. Garlic brings a pungent, slightly spicy, and earthy flavor to the filling. Adding depth and complexity helps create a harmonious balance among the other ingredients. Its presence contributes to the umami notes and overall savoriness of the dish.
If fresh garlic is not available, consider garlic powder or garlic-infused oil. Garlic powder can serve as an alternative to fresh garlic when needed. It provides a similar flavor profile, although it may be slightly milder. Begin by incorporating a smaller quantity of garlic powder into the filling, and adjust it according to your taste preference. As garlic powder is more concentrated, add it gradually while tasting along the way until you reach the desired level of garlic flavor.
Traditionally, pan-fried buns are cooked in vegetable oil. Although vegetable oil is a popular choice for cooking, it is crucial to acknowledge that not all vegetable oils are equal in terms of their health effects.
Using avocado oil to fry Sheng Jian Bao instead of vegetable oil can offer a unique twist and potentially enhance the flavor profile of the baos. With a high smoke point typically ranging from 375-400°F (190-204°C), avocado oil exhibits excellent heat resistance. As a result, it can endure high cooking temperatures without breaking down or generating smoke. The high smoke point makes avocado oil suitable for frying, including the pan-frying process of making Sheng Jian Bao.
What sauce should you serve with sheng Jian bao?
An array of sauces can accompany Sheng Jian Bao to elevate their flavors. Here are some popular sauce options that complement the baos:
Soy Sauce and Vinegar
A classic and simple dipping sauce for Sheng Jian Bao combines light and dark soy sauce and vinegar. The soy sauce adds saltiness and depth, while the vinegar provides tanginess. Adjust the ratio to your taste preference, starting with equal parts soy sauce and vinegar. You can use Chinese black vinegar or rice vinegar for a milder taste.
Spicy Chili Oil
Spicy chili oil is a fantastic choice if you enjoy a bit of heat. It adds a spicy kick and a rich flavor to the baos. For chili oil, you can use store-bought or create your own by infusing hot oil with chili flakes, garlic, and additional spices of your choice.
A creamy sesame sauce, such as a tahini-based sauce or a sesame paste mixture, complements the flavors of Sheng Jian Bao well. It adds a nutty and savory element to the baos.
A classic condiment in Chinese cuisine, ginger-scallion sauce brings a fresh and aromatic flavor to the table. It consists of minced ginger, sliced scallions, oil, and a pinch of salt. This sauce provides a refreshing contrast to the savory baos.
Hoisin sauce offers a sweet and savory flavor profile that pairs nicely with Sheng Jian Bao. It's thick consistency and complex taste add a touch of richness to the baos.
How To Store Leftovers
To maintain the quality of leftover Sheng Jian Bao, allow them to cool to room temperature before storage. This precaution prevents condensation and moisture accumulation, which can lead to sogginess. Place the cooled baos in an airtight container. Cooked buns can be refrigerated for approximately 3-4 days. However, consuming them as soon as possible is advisable to savor their optimal texture and flavor.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How do I achieve a crispy bottom for Sheng Jian Bao?
Achieving a crispy bottom involves pan-frying the baos first until they develop a golden brown crust. Then, adding a small amount of water to the pan and covering it with a lid allows the baos to steam, ensuring the filling is cooked through while maintaining the crispy bottom.
How do I fold and seal Sheng Jian Bao properly?
Folding and sealing Sheng Jian Bao can be a bit tricky. The process entails folding and pleating the edges of the dough wrapper to enclose the filling securely. There are various techniques, but a common method is folding and pinching the edges in small sections, ensuring they are firmly sealed. Mastering the technique requires dedication and patience through practice.
What are some alternative fillings for Sheng Jian Bao?
While the traditional filling for Sheng Jian Bao includes minced pork, vegetables, and seasonings, there are many possibilities for alternative fillings. Some popular options include shrimp, chicken, beef, or even vegetarian fillings using tofu, mushrooms, napa cabbage, and various vegetables. You can get creative and tailor the filling to your taste preferences.
Can I steam Sheng Jian Bao instead of pan-frying them?
Sheng Jian Bao is traditionally pan-fried to achieve a crispy bottom and tender top. Alternatively, for a lighter variation, you have the option to steam the baos entirely without pan-frying. Steam them for approximately 8-10 minutes or until the wrappers turn translucent and the filling is thoroughly cooked.
How do I prevent Sheng Jian Bao from sticking to the pan?
To prevent the baos from sticking to the pan, using a non-stick frying pan or a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet is crucial. Additionally, make sure the pan is adequately heated before adding the baos. Minimize excessive movement after positioning the baos in the pan to ensure even cooking. Let them cook undisturbed until the bottoms are crispy and golden.