A recipe from my new cookbook Plantiful, these fluffy little buns are filled with nuggety bits of tempeh and crunchy vegetables to make something delicious. Homemade bao are so incredibly delicious and while they require a bit of work they are well worth it.
Before we get into the recipe let’s talk about my new book! I am so excited to share a recipe with you all from it. I have been working hard on this book since last February. I wanted the book to be something vegans and non-vegans could enjoy. The recipes are all encompassing and there is everything from breakfast, to bowls, to bites, to mains, to desserts. There are over 75 recipes in the book all centered around comfort food. It is available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, IndieBound, Target, and more! It is also available internationally on Book Depository or your countries respective Amazon. There is also an ebook version available as well. If you do purchase it and feel inclined leaving a review, especially if you tried the recipes, would be extremely helpful and appreciated!
I wanted to include a whole bunch of different recipes in the book that I have been wanting to try, and this has been one of them. These bao are so delicious and I love how fluffy the bao buns are, I can eat them all on their own! They are filled with a sweet gochujang tempeh which is a bit spicy and salty. Combined with some cabbage, cucumber, and carrots to provide some freshness and crunch to the dish.
You will need a steamer basket for this recipe. They are pretty inexpensive and great to have around for steaming other things as well. The steaming of these buns is what gives them their character texture. It is very important to not open the steamer basket throughout the process, just let it steam. Also, please be careful when opening the steamer as it is very hot. These little bao are just great for a light snack or lunch. You can find them in the bites section of the cookbook!
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1/3 cup (80 ml) nondairy milk
1 packet (2¼ teaspoons/7g) active dry yeast
1½ tablespoons organic granulated sugar, divided
2½ cups (300g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons plus ½ teaspoon avocado or vegetable oil, divided, plus more for brushing
Sweet Gochujang Tempeh
1 (8-ounce/224g) package tempeh
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons gochujang paste
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1½ teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
6 cups (170g) shredded cabbage blend
1 carrot (about 2 ounces/60g), peeled into ribbons or julienned
½ cucumber, preferably English (about 4 ounces/112g), julienned
3 green onions, sliced, for garnish
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, for garnish
Special equipment: Large two-tiered bamboo steamer
- Prepare the buns: Heat the nondairy milk to 100°F to 110°F (37°C to 43°C). Mix the warm milk with the yeast and ½ tablespoon of the sugar. Set aside to proof for 10 minutes, until foamy.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining tablespoon of sugar. Pour in the proofed yeast mixture, 3 tablespoons of water, and 2 tablespoons of the oil. Mix with a rubber spatula until the dough begins to come together.
- Pour the dough out onto a clean, very lightly floured surface and knead with your hands for 5 to 7 minutes, until the dough forms a smooth ball. Brush the bowl with the remaining ½ teaspoon of oil and place the dough back in the bowl. Cover with a towel and set aside to rise for 1 hour. Note: It will not double in size.
- After the dough has risen, remove it from the bowl and place it on a clean surface. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to ¼ inch (6mm) thick. Use a 3½-inch (8.8cm) biscuit cutter or large glass to cut out circles, gathering up the scraps and rerolling the dough as needed, until you have a total of 12 dough circles.
- Lightly brush the tops of the circles with oil and fold in half. Then very gently roll the buns to elongate them into a slightly oval shape. Place on a rimmed baking sheet, cover with a towel, and allow to rise one final time for 45 minutes.
- About 20 minutes before the buns are done rising, prepare the tempeh: Use a sharp knife to cut the tempeh crosswise into 15 rectangles. Then cut each rectangle in half, resulting in 30 small tempeh squares. Place the tempeh in a large nonstick frying pan with ½ cup (120 ml) of water. Cover with a lid and steam the tempeh for 15 minutes over medium-high heat, or until it looks a bit puffy and all water has been absorbed. Once the tempeh is done, reduce the heat to medium and pour the oil into the pan; sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until golden and crispy.
- In a small bowl, mix together the gochujang paste, maple syrup, soy sauce, garlic powder, and 1½ teaspoons of water to form a thick sauce. Pour it over the tempeh and cook for 1 minute, tossing to coat all the pieces evenly with the sauce.
- Line both steamer baskets with parchment paper, then place 4 buns in each basket. Bring a sauté pan or wok filled with 6 cups (1.4 L) of water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium to maintain a vigorous simmer and place one steamer basket in the pan. Cover with the lid and steam the buns for 10 minutes. The buns will appear shiny on the outside and will have increased slightly in size. Do not open the steamer to check on them. Remove from the heat and carefully take the buns out. They will be very hot. Repeat with the second basket of uncooked buns.
- To assemble the bao: Open the buns and place a few pieces of cabbage, carrot, and cucumber along with 2 to 3 pieces of tempeh in each. Sprinkle with the green onions and sesame seeds and serve.
Makes 12 Bao (Serves 2 to 4)
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