Take a bao

Pair American-grown pears with Asian steamed buns.

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
February 4, 2016 14:17
Bao buns

Sweet bao buns with caramelized pears and chocolate spread. (photo credit: YUVAL BAR-NER)

Locally grown pears are great for salads and desserts but don’t lend themselves easily to cooking. Two North American species, Anjou and Bosc, are available now at most supermarkets, thanks to Yuval Bar-Ner, whose passion for the fruit made him the representative of the American Pear Association in Israel. Bar-Ner develops recipes with pears, from cakes and stews to cholent. In the following recipes, he looked to the Far East for inspiration, creating recipes with bao buns.

Bao (or bau) buns are common in Asian cuisines, such as Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese. The small, soft steamed buns are usually stuffed with meat or chicken and eaten as street food. Bar-Ner made them with fillings such as Asian chicken with pear, Tunisian Fricassee, and chocolate.

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The red Anjou pears and the rusty-colored Bosc pears are picked hard and ripen in storage.

Kept refrigerated they can be stored up to a year. Pick them at the store while still hard, put them in your fruit bowl and press the neck from time to time to see if they are ready to eat.

BAO BUNS FILLED WITH TUNISIAN FRICASSEE
Makes 8 small buns

For the dough:
✔ 500 gr. white flour
✔ 20 gr. fresh yeast or 7 gr. dry yeast
✔ 5 gr. (½ sachet) baking powder
✔ ¼ cup sugar
✔ 1½ cups water
✔ 1½ cups milk
✔ ¼ cup canola oil

For the pickled lemon mayonnaise:

✔ 1 egg
✔ 2 Tbsp. pickled lemon, chopped
✔ ½ tsp. hot paprika
✔ 2 Tbsp. lemon juice (or natural vinegar)
✔ 1 cup canola oil
✔ Salt For the fricassee
✔ 1 can tuna in oil
✔ 2 potatoes, boiled, peeled and cubed
✔ 2 Tbsp. capers
✔ Handful parsley leaves

To prepare the dough: In a mixer bowl, place water, yeast, milk, sugar and baking powder.

Using the kneading arm, start kneading on low speed and gradually add the flour.

Once the dough is formed, add the salt and turn the speed to medium. Knead for 5 minutes.

Add the oil and knead another 5 minutes.

When done, the dough may still be a little sticky. Transfer the dough to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave to rise at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes or until the dough is doubles in size.

To prepare the mayonnaise: In a tall and narrow container, place egg, lemon (or vinegar), paprika and chopped pickled lemon.

Using a hand-held blender, grind all the ingredients until smooth. Keep the blender on and slowly start drizzling the oil into the mixture, working the blender up and down until mayonnaise is formed. Taste it and adjust the seasoning to taste.

When the dough is double in size, transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Divide into 8 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a small elongated bun. Place the buns on a lined baking sheet and cover for the second rising, about 20 minutes.

Boil water in a steamer, place the buns in the steamer and steam for 12 minutes.

Remove from steamer, slice each bun and make the sandwich: Spread the mayonnaise and add potato cubes, tuna, capers and parsley. Serve immediately.

ASIAN CHICKEN FILLING WITH PEAR PICKLES
Makes 12 buns

For the dough
:
✔ 500 gr. white flour
✔ 20 gr. fresh yeast or 7 gr. dry yeast
✔ 5 gr. (½ sachet) baking powder
✔ ¼ cup sugar
✔ 1½ cups water
✔ 1½ cups natural pear or apple juice (with no added sugar)
✔ ¼ cup canola oil

For the chicken marinade
✔ 5 Tbsp. soy sauce
✔ 2 Tbsp. sugar
✔ 1 Tbsp. ginger, grated
✔ 1 tsp. sesame oil
✔ 2 cloves garlic, minced
✔ A little ground dry chili

For the chicken
✔ 350 gr. dark chicken meat off the bone (pargiot)
✔ 1 cucumber, sliced into thin strips using a peeler
✔ A few sprigs green onion

For the pears
✔ 4 Anjou pears, sliced lengthwise into eighths
✔ 1 tsp. salt
✔ 2 Tbsp. sugar
✔ Juice of 1 lemon (or lime)
✔ A little ground chili
✔ 1 clove garlic, minced water, juice, yeast, sugar and baking powder.

Using the kneading arm, start kneading on low speed and gradually add the flour. Once the dough is formed, add the salt and turn the speed to medium. Knead for 5 minutes.

Add the oil and knead another 5 minutes.

When done, the dough may still be a little sticky. Transfer the dough to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave to rise at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes or until the dough doubles in size.

In a bowl, place chicken in the marinade and refrigerate. To keep the cucumber and green onion fresh and crisp, place them in ice water.

Mix sliced pears with the rest of the ingredients and leave to pickle for at least 30 minutes.

When dough has risen, remove from bowl to a lightly floured work surface.

Divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece to an ellipse, rub one side with oil and place on a lined baking sheet, greased side down. Fold each piece into the shape of a “mouth.” Leave to rise for about 20 minutes. Bring water to a boil and steam the buns for 12 minutes.

To prepare the chicken: Heat a skillet with a little oil. Remove chicken from the marinade and shake to drain. Place chicken in the skillet and brown on all sides. Lower the heat and add the marinade. Cook until liquid is reduced and all the chicken is coated with the sauce. Remove from heat and transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Wait 2 minutes for the chicken to cool a little and slice the pieces into thin strips. Return to the skillet.

Remove the buns from the steamer, open each bun and fill with chicken, cucumber and green onion. Add 1 slice of pickled pear to each bun.

SWEET BAO BUNS WITH CARAMELIZED PEARS AND CHOCOLATE SPREAD

Makes 12 buns

For the dough:
✔ 500 gr. white flour
✔ 20 gr. fresh yeast or 7 gr. dry yeast
✔ 5 gr. (½ bag) baking powder
✔ ¼ cup sugar
✔ 1½ cups water
✔ 1 ½ cups milk
✔ ¼ cup canola oil

For the pears:
✔ 4 Anjou pears, cubed
✔ 150 gr. sugar
✔ 1 Tbsp. brandy
✔ 200 ml. cream

For the pears
✔ 4 Anjou pears, cubed
✔ 150 gr. sugar
✔ 1 Tbsp. brandy
✔ 200 ml. cream
✔ 6 Tbsp. chocolate spread
✔ 12 10x10 cm. parchment paper squares

To prepare the dough: In a mixer bowl, place water, yeast, milk, sugar and baking powder.

Using the kneading arm, start kneading on low speed and gradually add the flour. Once the dough is formed, add the salt and turn the speed to medium. Knead for 5 minutes.

Add the oil and knead another 5 minutes.

When done, the dough may still be a little sticky. Transfer the dough to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave to rise at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes or until the dough doubles in size.

To prepare the pears
: Heat sugar in a heavy skillet until caramelized. Very carefully add 2 to 3 Tbsp. of water, stir and add the pear cubes. Cook for a few minutes until pear is softened. With a slotted spoon, remove the pears from the skillet and let cool.

Add cream and brandy to the skillet and cook, mixing until the toffee is thick and smooth. Remove from heat.

When dough is doubled in size, transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 10-cm disc. In the center of each disc, place 1 tsp. of chocolate spread and top with 1 tsp. of the cooked pears. Gather the dough around the filling and pinch the ends of the dough to form a ball. Place the balls seam side down on the parchment paper squares. Leave to rise covered for 20 minutes.

When ready, steam the buns for 12 minutes. Remove from steamer and serve with the toffee sauce.

Recipes and photos courtesy of Yuval Bar-Ner.


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