Have you heard of Steamed Savoury Taro Buns, or should they be called Dumplings? No, not the steamed sweet buns with sweet taro filling, but taro pastry buns with meat filling! Well, neither have I until I bought a Chinese cookbook a few years ago and it was the first recipe featured in the book. Apparently, they are a must-eat if you are in southern Hokkien province of China, but they haven’t seemed to travel across the ocean to South-East Asia yet even though there’re a large proportion of Hokkien descendants there. Well maybe some of you have, but at least I haven’t heard of these buns/dumplings back in Malaysia.
I was very intrigue because the little pau looks so cute steamed in tiny little bowls. Ever since then, I have reminded myself to go and buy those tiny little bowls just so I could try the recipe out. However I couldn’t seems to find them, which are smaller than the normal rice bowls but bigger than the Chinese teacups. That is until last weekend… of course I could have just used the bigger Chinese rice bowls to make them, but hey, I was determined in my quest… Oh, the pain and sacrifice we made as bloggers, hahaha…
After deciding to just buy 4 bowls to begin with – as I don’t know of any other use for them, maybe as a sauce bowl? – I set to work on making these buns. The process went smoothly, except for the quantity. I have used 2/3 of the quantity in the ingredients for the pastry, which according to the recipe should made 8 buns, two rounds of steaming using just 4 bowls. But I ended up with just enough to make only 4 buns using that quantity, maybe the bowls used in the recipe are even smaller, as I only have the pictures in the recipe as a guide, by comparing the size of the hand in the picture with the size of the bowl… Ah, the preciseness of it… Anyway that didn’t really matter anymore, as the buns were delicious! It was like eating a savoury Orr Nee (taro paste) with meat filling… May need to go and buy a few more bowls now that this is a recipe for keep!
Just one last note, although the taro pastry tasted wonderful as it is, I’m still not too sure if they are supposed to be as soft as this. I would probably increase the amount of wheat starch in proportion with boiling water next time to make the pastry just that little bit firmer so it has a little bit of bite (more Q in texture) to it.
Makes approx. 4 buns
200g peeled purple taro
50g wheat starch
100ml boiling water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
50ml canola oil
150g minced pork
Marinade for Pork: 1 teaspoon light soy sauce; 1/4 teaspoon salt; 1/2 teaspoon sugar; dash of ground white pepper
3 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked
25g dried shrimps, soaked
125g Chinese cabbage (use outer leaves with more stalk), diced *
2 shallots, peeled and sliced
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon potato starch mixed with 1 tablespoon water
Originally in the cookbook, it used bamboo shoot in the recipe.
1. Marinate minced pork for about 1/2 hour. Toss the diced cabbage with 1/2 teaspoon salt for 1/2 hour, then squeeze to get rid of excess juice (no need to do this if you’re using canned bamboo shoot, just chop and add to the cooking later on). Roughly chop the soaked mushrooms and dried shrimps.
2. Heat a wok until hot and add oil. Sauté sliced shallots until lightly golden. Add chopped garlic and stir-fry briefly until fragrant. Add chopped mushrooms and shrimps. Stir-fry briefly then add marinated pork and cook until the meat is cooked. Season to taste with oyster sauce and light soy sauce. Add squeezed dried cabbage and stir quickly to mix in. Thicken with dissolved starch. Dish up and let cool. Cover and refrigerate until ready to be used.
1. Slice the peeled taro thinly and steam for 20-30 minutes, or until soft.
2. When the taro is halfway through cooking, pour boiling water into the wheat starch and quickly stir to mix with a pair of chopsticks. Let sit until the taro is ready.
2. When the taro is soft, tip into the wheat starch dough and mash in with the back of a fork. Then start kneading with your hand to mix the dough and the mashed taro thoroughly until smooth. Add salt and sugar and mix in. Add oil and knead in to combine. Let cool, cover and refrigerate until cold.
To make buns:
1. Grease 4 small bowls (150ml capacity each) with cooking oil. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions.
2. Press a portion of the dough into a bowl making a thin layer with overhang around the edges of the bowl.
3. Spoon filling in to about the rim of the bowl. Fold the overhang to enclose the filling. Press down lightly to smooth the surface.
4. Steam over high heat for 10 minutes. Wait a few minutes, then turn out carefully (may need to prise the pastry from the edges of the bowl first or the delicate pastry may disintegrate) onto a plate and serve hot with chilli sauce.
Taste: Delicious, soft paste-like pastry and meat filling with a bit of crunch
Consume: Best served hot or warm
Storage: Cover and store in the refrigerator, re-steam until hot before serving
Recipe Reference: ‘閩南芋頭包’ recipe from the Chinese cookbook ‘民間小吃製作圖解’ by 曾大平