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THE RED DOOR: Sake + Kitchen

  • Writer's pictureMoose Nicholson

What is Bao?


The Red Door Musubi Bun Made with Spam

What is a Bao Bun?

Originating from China, a Bao Bun, often simply called "Bao," is a type of steamed bread roll. The word "Bao" in Chinese translates to "bun" or "bread." These buns are distinctive for their smooth, soft texture and are traditionally prepared by steaming them in bamboo baskets, which imparts a unique flavor and keeps them wonderfully moist.


The History and Cultural Significance

Bao buns have a rich history, deeply rooted in Chinese cuisine. They are believed to date back to the third century AD and are an integral part of various Asian culinary traditions, not just in China but also in countries like Taiwan and the Philippines. Bao buns are often associated with Dim Sum, a style of Chinese meal typically served with tea and featuring small dishes and dumplings.


The Anatomy of a Bao Bun

The classic Bao is white, fluffy, and slightly sweet. It's made from a dough consisting of wheat flour, yeast, sugar, baking powder, milk, and oil. The dough is allowed to rise before being shaped into buns.

There are several variations of Bao, but the most popular ones include:


Closed Bao: These are completely enclosed and can be filled with a variety of ingredients, from barbecued pork (Char Siu Bao) to sweet fillings like red bean paste.


Open Bao: Often referred to as "Gua Bao" in Taiwan, these resemble a sandwich and typically consist of a flat steamed bun folded around a filling. Popular fillings include braised pork belly, pickled vegetables, cilantro, and ground peanuts.


Bao Buns in Modern Cuisine

The Red Door Fried Chicken Bao Bun

In recent years, Bao buns have transcended their traditional roots and entered the global culinary scene. Chefs around the world are experimenting with Bao, filling them with non-traditional ingredients like fried chicken, pulled pork, and even chocolate and fruits for dessert Baos.


Making Bao Buns at Home




Making Bao buns at home can be a fun and rewarding experience. It involves preparing the dough, letting it rise, shaping the buns, and finally steaming them. While the process can be a bit time-consuming, the result is delicious, homemade buns that can be filled with your choice of ingredients.


Why you should try our buns


Bao buns are more than just a tasty treat; they are a representation of cultural history and culinary evolution. As they continue to gain popularity worldwide, they remind us of the rich tapestry of global cuisine and the endless possibilities it holds. Whether you're enjoying them in a traditional setting or experimenting with new fillings, Bao buns are sure to offer a delightful culinary experience.

So, next time you come across these fluffy, cloud-like buns, remember their rich history and take a moment to savor their delightful taste and texture. Happy eating!

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