Steamed Hoisin Buns 清蒸海鮮包子 (Qīng Zhēng Hǎi Xiān Bāo Zi)

  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) warm water
  • 2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 600 ml (2 1/2 cups) unbleached all purpose flour
  • 600 ml (2 1/2 cups) cake flour*
  • 4 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp margarine, melted
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) soy milk
  • 180 ml (3/4 cup) water
  • 16 squares of parchment or greaseproof paper

  • 8 oz prepared seitan, any style, drained and coarsely chopped (you may use medium-firm tofu in this recipe instead of seitan)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp tapioca starch or corn starch

Prepare the dough:
  1. In a 1 cup (250 mL) measuring cup, blend the water, yeast and sugar and let stand in a warm place until it foams up to the 1 cup mark, about 20 minutes.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine the flours, sugar, and salt until well mixed. 
  3. Add the melted margarine, yeast mixture, soy milk and water and knead until it becomes a soft, pliable dough. 
  4. Place this in an oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth. 
  5. Let rise for 3 hours in a warm spot that is free of drafts.

Prepare the filling:
  1. Heat a large skillet or wok, and add the oil. 
  2. Toss in the chopped seitan and cook for a minute or two. 
  3. Add all the remaining ingredients except the last measurement of water and starch. 
  4. Bring the seitan and sauce to a boil. In a small dish blend the last amount of water with the starch until it has no lumps. 
  5. Add this to the seitan and sauce mixture and cook for one or two minutes until it has thickened. 
  6. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Assemble the buns:
  1. After the dough has risen, remove it from the bowl and knead it three or four times. Divide it  into 8 equally sized pieces (or more if required). 
  2. Working quickly, flatten each piece of dough out until it is about 20cm in diameter. 
  3. Scoop a, heaped Tbsp of the prepared filling into the centre, and then bring the edges of the dough circle up over it, and pinch it all tightly closed. 
  4. Place the bun on one square of parchment and arrange on a cookie sheet or other large platter. 
  5. Repeat these steps until all 8 buns are filled. 
  6. Cover the buns with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm spot for about 20 minutes, then steam in a vegetable steamer or bamboo steamer for 25 minutes.

Makes 8 big steamed buns and can of course be adjusted so that smaller buns are made.

* You can substitute cake flour with this mix: 3/4 of a cup of unbleached all purpose flour plus 2 tbsp of tapioca starch or cornstarch to replace each cup of cake flour the recipe calls for. 
To keep the bun very light, it’s important to sift your flour before measuring, and not to tamp the sifted flour down into the measuring cup but just scrape off the top to a level surface.