Vegetarian Steamed Buns 素食蒸寶 (Su shi zheng bao)



  • 1/4 large onion, diced
  • 3 green onions cut finely white shoots and green tips
  • 120 gm (~1/4 lb) package firm tofu, frozen, defrosted, and cubed
  • 2 cups fresh spinach leaves, chopped
  • mushrooms, diced: straw, enoki, tree fungi. 
  • 6 large shitake dried mushrooms reconstituted and diced (remove the stalks and reserve frozen for another use)
  • 2-3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 2-3 Tbsp light soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 3 tsp minced garlic


  • 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*
  • 60 ml (4 Tbsp) sugar
  • 2 Tbsp margarine, melted
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) soy milk
  • 180 ml (3/4 cup) water
  • 16 squares of baking or greaseproof paper


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 oil in a wok over high heat.
  2. Add onions, garlic, and a splash of the sesame oil and soy sauce.
  3. Stir fry for 1 – 3 minutes to bring out flavor.
  4. Add tofu and stir fry until golden. If cubes are too large, break them during frying.
  5. Add mushrooms and another splash of sesame oil and soy sauce. Stir fry for 3 – 5 minutes.
  6. Add remaining sesame oil, soy sauce, and the vinegar.
  7. Add the spinach immediately.
  8. Stir fry until spinach is well wilted, 4 – 10 minutes.

Assemble the buns:

  1. After the dough has risen, remove it from the bowl and knead it three or four times. 
  2. Break it up into 8 equally sized pieces. 
  3. Working quickly, flatten each piece of dough out until it is about 20cm in diameter. 
  4. 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. 
  5. Place the bun on one square of parchment and arrange on a cookie sheet or other large platter. 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