Saturday, March 3, 2012



The pizza dough strikes again.

Make the filling first. You will need

1 lb firm tofu
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1/2 lb frozen chopped spinach
1/2 bundle mung bean threads AKA plastic noodles
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 or 2 tablespoons sesame oil
salt, pepper, dark soysauce to taste
a little oil for frying

Put the onion, ginger, oil, and tofu in a 3 qt sauce pan and smash and saute them until all the water has cooked out. A sprinkle of salt will help. This will take quite a while, be prepared.

Meanwhile, boil some water in a small saucepan. When the water has reached a boil, add the bean threads, stir them around and immediately turn the burner off. Let them sit there until you need them.

When the tofu mix is dry, add the spinach and seasonings. Drain the noodles thoroughly, then mince them in a food processor. Add the noodles to the filling, and continue cooking until the mix is pretty dry. Taste for salt, and set the filling aside.

Use the pizza dough recipe, but use all-purpose flour and only half as much salt. I strongly recommend using a bread machine to make the dough, because it will really whale the heck out of the dough. It should be very smooth and soft.
Cut the dough into 2" bits, and roll them out so they are about 5" across. Don't make them evenly flat, they should have a fried-egg-like appearance. Put a generous 2 tablespoons of filling in the center of each round, and pinch them closed. The pinching technique is the same as for the xiao long bao I made a while ago, as is the technique for rolling out the dough, it's just less dainty.

Slightly poofy
Let the baodze rest for about 20-30 minutes, and then you can either steam or fry them. If you steam them, make sure that you get the water in the steamer fully boiling for a few minutes to really heat up the trays before you put in the bao. Also, if you use a metal steamer like I have, cut a little square of waxed or parchment paper to go under each one or they will stick to the trays. No peeking while they cook! They might go flat.

For frying, heat a skillet to medium-high, and put in a couple tablespoons of veggie oil. When it's hot enough that the oil shimmies a bit, put in the bao, leaving about 3/4" between each one. Cover and fry for 2 or 3 minutes, then add 3/4 cup of water. Cover again and let them cook until all the water has gone and they are nice and brown at the bottom.

Steamed baodze are not so photogenic
Either way you cook them, they take about 15 minutes. Eat them right away. They keep all right, but are best immediately.


1. As you can see, the dough is not rested before use. This gives it a characteristically light flavor. It is also why it's important to beat it into submission before you roll it out; if you don't, the dough will be very rubbery and hard to work with. A bread machine will bludgeon the gluten in the flour to oblivion for you.
2. You can make the filling well in advance. I did mine the night before.
3. You can fill these with anything. This is just one of the traditional recipes dad used.
4. Bean threads! You can get these at asian markets. They are not the same as rice sicks. They have absolutely no nutritional value, they just add texture. You can mince them by hand, but why would you? Also, if you need to pad out the recipe for any reason, they're good for that.
5. Use enough salt. These ingredients are quite bland.
6. Firm tofu will not crumble up by itself. Either mince it first or use a potato masher. You could use softer tofu, but it is composed mostly of water, and will just take longer to cook and net you less actual food.

The fried ones are very pretty on the bottom


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