One of the most memorable dishes I had when we visited The Bazaar was a small slider-sized fish sandwich stuffed with uni, avocado, and jalapeno. As far as I was concerned, what set this apart from any ordinary fish sandwich wasn’t just what was in it, but the bun itself.
Steamed buns are a Chinese specialty. They’re small balls of bread dough that are steamed in bamboo steamers instead of baked in the oven. Traditionally, they’re stuffed with a wide variety of minced meats, vegetables, seafood, beans, you name it.
But what makes steamed buns addicting is not what’s inside of them. It’s the way they’re cooked that makes them irresistible. Steaming the buns keeps them soft inside and out. It’s literally like biting into a pillow.
The Bazaar offered more than one variety of these sandwiches. There were the uni sliders that we enjoyed, but the menu also contained “crab meat in steamed buns,” prepared in almost the same way. It was, in essence, a deconstructed California roll served in a steamed bun.
It being the weekend (and a chance to try something new), I just had to try to duplicate this little morsel at home for a family Easter function. I can make California rolls – not a problem. Bread dough? Please – cake walk. But steaming the buns instead of baking them? I can’t say that my confidence level was at an all-time high here. I’ve never used anything but an oven to cook bread dough. I’ve grilled pizza dough successfully, but I ‘m convinced that was all luck.
I made a basic bread dough (3 cups of bread flour, 1 cup of filtered water at room temperature, a pinch of salt, and 1 package of bakers yeast) and allowed it to rise as normal. When the dough was ready, I gave it a good punch, rolled it on a bread board covered in flour and allowed to sit for 30 minutes. Then I started making small balls of dough, about 2 inches in diameter.
I lined my bamboo steamer with parchment paper, then placed the balls of dough inside, covered it and allowed the balls to rise for 2 hours. When they were ready, I placed the steamer over a wok filled with water, and brought it to a boil. I steamed each rack of buns for for 25 minutes. They cooked perfectly. The bun took on no color, was soft all around, and was perfectly cooked on the inside.
What went inside the buns was, as I said earlier, pretty close to what a California roll is comprised of (minus the nori, of course).
Tell me that isn’t the happiest plate of sliders you’ve ever seen. Move over Filet-O-Fish. There’s a new fish sandwich in town, and it’s kicking your ass.
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