Chinese Vegetable Bao Buns

Asian Tapas

Impress your guests this weekend with these veggie bao buns.


1 batch of Bread Dough (see below)

1 head of Chinese cabbage leaves

3 handfuls Chinese spinach

2 small leeks

1 carrot, peeled and grated

8 oyster mushrooms, sliced

3 Chinese chive stalks, white

parts removed, sliced

2 tablespoons sunflower oil, plus extra for oiling the dough

large handful of freshly

chopped coriander/cilantro

vegetarian stir-fry sauce, to serve

non-stick pan or bamboo steamer, lined with non-stick baking parchment




2 teaspoons fast-action dried yeast

450 g/3 1⁄2 cups Asian white wheat flour

100 g/3⁄4 cup plus 1 tablespoon icing/ confectioners’ sugar, sifted

15 g/2 tablespoons dried milk powder

1⁄4 teaspoon fine salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

180 ml/3⁄4 cup water, add more if needed

50 ml/scant 1⁄4 cup vegetable oil, plus extra for oiling the bowl



Place the yeast in a large mixing bowl, then add the flour, sugar, milk powder, salt and baking powder. Make sure the yeast is separated from the salt by the layer of flour.

Add the water and oil and bring together with a dough scraper. When no dry flour remains, remove the dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface. Knead firmly for 5–10 minutes, until smooth and elastic.

Lightly oil the mixing bowl. Shape the dough into two cylinders and place back in the oiled bowl, cover with oiled clingfilm/plastic wrap and leave in a warm place to rise for 40–60 minutes or until doubled in size.

Divide the dough into 16 round balls and flatten each slightly with a rolling pin into an oval shape, around 12 x 6 cm/4 1⁄2 x 2 1⁄3 inches.

Cut 16 squares of baking parchment, each 12 cm/4 1⁄2 inches. Use your fingers to lightly oil the surface of a piece of dough, place a square of paper on top and fold the dough in half so that the paper is in the centre. Cut another 16 squares of baking parchment just larger than the buns. Lay the paper squares on a tray and lightly dust with flour.

Place a bun on top of each square on its side, cover with oiled clingfilm/plastic wrap and leave to rise for 30–40 minutes.

While the buns are rising, slice the cabbage leaves, spinach and leeks lengthwise into ribbons approximately 6 cm/21⁄4 inches long and 2 cm/3⁄4 inch thick. Set aside.

Brush the top of each risen bun lightly with sunflower oil. Lift the buns on their squares and place in the bamboo steamer about 4 cm/ 1 1⁄2 inches apart. Steam over boiling water for 15–20 minutes until light and fluffy.

Heat the sunflower oil in a wok and stir-fry all the vegetables and herbs for around 2–3 minutes. Add vegetarian stir-fry sauce to taste and give the vegetables a quick toss.

When the buns are ready, remove the baking parchment from the middle of each one and fill with the hot vegetables. Serve.


This recipe is from Asian Tapas, photography © Ryland Peters & Small