VEGAN CHAR SIU BAO
The vegan char siu bao or vegan cha siu bao (i.e., vegan roast pork buns). I don’t understand how it works.
The answer is both yes and no. These buns do not include any pork. However, the flavor is strikingly similar to the pork cha siu bao many of us grew up eating. Continue reading to learn how to make a delicious vegan Chinese dish or a tasty vegetarian appetizer!
Rather than using milk or heavy cream in the bun dough, the nutritious, organic (and vegan) coconut oil is used to fatten the vegan char siu bao filling. The outcome is soft, buttery bread that can compete with Asian milk bread.
In this recipe, dairy does not need to achieve the original flavor of a Chinatown roast pork bun, which is the magic. Vegan or not, these buns are a must-have for everyone who like baked goods.
It’s also possible to experiment with various ingredients, such as mushrooms or peas, after making these for the first time. The possibilities are endless with this vegan char siu bao recipe. It’s up to you to customize it however you like.
FOR THE DOUGH:
- 1 cup of warm water(separated in two 1/2 cup or 118ml portions)
- 1 tsp. of active dry yeast
- 3 cups of all-purpose flour (divided)
- ¼ cup of coconut oil
- ½ tsp. of vital wheat gluten
- ½ cup of sugar
- a pinch of salt
FOR THE FILLING:
- 2 tbsp of oil
- 1 pc. of medium onion (diced)
- 1 lb. of extra firm tofu (pat dry and cut into ½-inch cubes)
- 2 ½ tbsp. of soy sauce
- ½ tsp. of dark soy sauce (optional)
- 1 tbsp. of sugar
- 1/2 tsp. of salt
- 1 tsp. of sesame oil
- 1 tbsp. of hoisin sauce
- white pepper (to taste)
- 1 ¼ cups of water or vegetable stock
- 2 tbsp. of flour
SUGAR WATER TO COAT THE BUNS:
- 1 tbsp. of sugar
- 2 tbsp. of warm water
- Make the dough first. Mix 1/2 cup (118 ml) warm water, 1 teaspoon active dry yeast, and 1/3 cup (50g) flour using a large bowl. For 15 minutes, set the mixture in a warm place and allow it to foam.
- To finish, add the remaining 1/2 cup of warm water and continue mixing until no more particles are visible in the coconut oil-yeast combination. Salt, sugar, and essential wheat gluten are added to the final 2 2/3 cups (370g) of flour. Continue mixing until a dough forms. Spend ten minutes kneading. Don’t worry if it’s a little sticky; you may add additional flour to make it easier to work with. Prove for an hour by covering with plastic wrap.
- Make the filler while that’s taking place. Add the oil, onions, and tofu to a hot wok or cast-iron pan and cook until the tofu is golden brown. Make sure that one side of the tofu is just browned by cooking it for 3-5 minutes. Rip the mixture over rubber spatula and brown the other side. Extra oil might be added if the mixture appears too dry.
- Add the sugar, salt, sesame oil, hoisin sauce, and white pepper to the soy sauces, sugar, salt, and sesame oil. Add the water/vegetable stock and flour after mixing everything. Stirring gently is key to preventing tofu pieces from being broken up.
- After a few minutes of heating, the sauce will begin to thicken. As it cools, it should thicken even more. Make the buns after the mixture has cooled. You can put the mixture in the fridge to make it simpler to assemble if it appears a little wet.
- Using a well-floured surface, knead the dough for an additional 2-3 minutes after it has proofed for an hour. Add enough flour to allow for kneading, but be cautious not to dry the dough. To keep the dough from drying out, divide it into ten pieces and cover it with a damp towel.
- A disc with a thicker center than the edges should be formed from each dough ball. Close the bun by folding in the sides and placing a small amount of filling in the center. Go ahead if you need to lengthen the dough to cover the filling. For further examples of bun folding, see our other char siu bao recipe. It’s important to crimp it shut and set it seam-side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet before baking it.
- Keep the dough balls and finished buns covered with moist towels until all of the buns are made. After 375°F/190°C preheating, leave the buns to rest for another 10 minutes.
- Brush the buns with a sugar-and-warm-water mixture prepared as described above. The buns should be baked at 350°F/175°C; however, the temperature should be reduced immediately. Baking time should be around 20-25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. When the buns are done baking, use the leftover sugar water to brush the tops of them. Serve hot!