Baozi are unlikely to be ignored by anyone, let alone a dog that would be able to sniff the savory meat filling inside. Nevertheless, this post is about Goubuli Baozi (天津狗不理包子), which apparently means “dogs ignore” in Chinese, or just Baozi (包子), the rather addictive chinese buns filled with meat (or many other things – egg custard, red bean paste, vegetable curries) and steamed. I haven’t made them in a very very long time, and our freezer was getting empty of any “quick dinner” food. It was time to try them again.
I have a copy of Barbara Tropp’s famous “The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking” at home, so I ended up using her recipe and directions as a guide. But there are a million recipes for them online, and many of them don’t differ at all or much from Tropp’s recipe. Here’s one that was quite close.
I did make one seasonal substitution. Rather than using a combo of leek and cilantro, as recommended in Tropp’s recipe, I went for a combo of onion and ramps…since they are still growing like mad in the English Garden. They’re beginning to flower, though. So the leaves are not quite as tender and delicate. Still, enough to make do. Like any dumpling, you can choose your ingredients and flavorings as you like – garlic, ginger, onions, cilantro – the herb mixture should be to your taste.
The only really tricky part of making Baozi once you have the dough proofed (which admittedly does take quite awhile), is the folding part.
You chop the dough up into appropriately sized chunks and then roll out the chunks a bit, pressing the edges of the circles down, leaving it a bit puffy in the middle.
Once you have a circle approximately the size of your palm – or a bit bigger, you spoon in about two tablespoons of filling and then carefully – and here is where the tricky part comes in – pleat it closed. Here’s a super short video that shows you how you should hold your baozi as you fold.
It takes a bit of practice and mine certainly weren’t perfect. Apparently each one should have 15 pleats and should resemble a chrysanthemum flower.
Although mine were probably closer to the Sharpei up there.
Please, don’t count the pleats.
Really, at the end of the day the thing that matters the most is simply how they taste.
Make sure you steam them right before you eat them. And steam all of them – it’s best to re-steam them after they are frozen as opposed to freezing them raw.
Make a bit of sauce to go with them – some soy sauce mixed with a bit of chili and sesame oil, a little vinegar and some shreds ginger.
Serve with some spicy sour cucumber salad.
Three or four of them make a nice meal with a salad…depending on how gigantic you make yours….these were each about the size of a small fist.
Gè bǎo (个饱) – Bon appetit!