Homemade fluffy steamed buns filled with mushrooms cooked in hoisin sauce. Enjoyed with some pickled carrots and cucumber plus some kimchi for extra texture and flavour! You can also opt to fill your gua bao with maple hoisin tofu instead of the mushrooms!
Prep Time1 hrCook Time30 minsInactive Dough Rise Time1 hrTotal Time2 hrs 30 minsCourseAppetizer, Main Course, Side Dish, SnackCuisineChineseServings12 gua baosCalories131 kcal
- Bamboo Steamer (see notes if you don’t have one)
- Parchment paper, for lining
- Rolling pin, I used a small dumpling rolling pin
- 3/4 cup warm soy milk
- 3 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp instant dry yeast
- 1 tbsp neutral oil plus more for brushing
Pickled Carrots and Cucumber
- 1/3 cup thinly sliced carrot
- 1/3 cup thinly sliced cucumber
- 1/2 tbsp coarse salt, optional (see steps)
- 3 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp sugar or adjust according to desired sweetness
- 1 tsp roasted sesame seeds
- Pinch of salt
- 1 lb fresh mushrooms of choice I used a mix of king oyster and shiitake
- Alternative filing: maple hoisin tofu
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- Oil for cooking
- 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 4 tbsp maple syrup or other liquid sweetener or sugar (adjust according to desired sweetness)
- 1/4 tsp chinese 5 spice powder
Other Fillings and Toppings
- Vegan Kimchi homemade recipe here
- Chopped roasted peanuts
- Chopped spring onions
Pickled Carrots and Cucumber
- Discard the seeds and pit of the cucumber. Peel the carrot. Very thinly slice the cucumber and carrots.
- You can skip the following step and jump immediately to placing the veggies in the vinegar mix. But I find that draining the liquid yields better tasting pickled veg since they’re drained of their liquid!Place the carrot and cucumber in a colander. Place a bowl under to catch the liquid. Add the coarse salt and mix into the carrot and cucumber mixture. Leave to sit for at least 10 minutes. Squeeze out the excess water. Wash the cucumber and carrot through running water to wash off the salt and then squeeze out to drain excess liquid.
- While the veggies are being soaked in the salt (if doing so), mix together the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Mix well until the sugar dissolves. Adjust seasoning based on desired sweetness and sourness.
- Add in the cucumber and carrots. Mix well and leave to sit for 10-15 minutes. You can prepare this the day before and refrigerate it until ready to use. This way it’s also more flavourful!
- Slice the mushrooms into strips or batons.
- Heat a non-stick pan. Heat some oil over medium heat. Once hot, add in the garlic. Sauté until lightly brown and then add in the mushrooms. Pour in the hoisin sauce and maple syrup or other sweetener. Mix well and cook over medium heat for 5-6 minutes or until the mushrooms are cooked through and release some water. Sprinkle chinese five spice or pepper and mix well. Turn off heat and set aside.Alternatively, you can also try out my maple hoisin tofu for the filling!
Preparing the Dough
- Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
- Place the soy milk in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave at high for 25-30 seconds (note that this can vary depending on your microwave) until the milk is around 42C/110F. It should be warm to the touch but will not burn you. If it’s too hot, leave to cool for a few minutes.
- Mix in the sugar and yeast into the warm milk. Leave to sit for 10-15 minutes until it foams up. When it’s foamy, mix in the oil.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. While mixing, pour in the yeast and milk mixture.
- Keep mixing until a dough is formed. Knead for 5-10 minutes until dough is smooth. You can opt to knead it in the bowl if your bowl is large enough to minimise the mess, or you can place it on a lightly floured surface.
- Scrape off the flour on the sides of the bowl if needed. I like to use my hands to knead everything together. Keep kneading until the dough is stretchy and no longer sticks to your hands. You’ll have a smooth ball of dough. The gluten bonds will strengthen as the dough is kneaded.
- Shape the dough into a ball, then place it back in the bowl. Cover it with a damp towel and let it rest for at least 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Forming the Buns
- Once the dough has risen, transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Punch your thumb into the center to create a hole. Slowly pinch and form the sides to create a larger hole before slowly pulling apart the sides to create a large ring (see video).
- Slice the ring of dough into 12 pieces, each around 40 grams.
- Place the pieces in a bowl and cover with a damp towel to prevent them from drying out while you work on each piece.
- Only 4 pieces fit in my bamboo steamer so I only prepare 4 pieces at a time.
- Roll a piece of dough into a ball and then lightly flatten on a floured surface. With a rolling pin or small dumpling rolling pin (which I used), roll the dough until you have an oval that’s around 3 by 4 to 4.5”.
- Brush the dough with some oil then fold into half. Transfer on a sheet of parchment paper and into the bamboo basket. Cover the dough and leave to proof for another 15-20 minutes.
- Repeat this step for the rest of the dough and work in batches as needed, depending on how many can fit your steamer.
Cooking the Buns
- If you don’t have a bamboo steamer, see the notes below.
- Heat a large pan or wok, enough to fit the bamboo steamer. Add enough water that it touches the bottom edge of the steamer. Make sure the water doesn’t reach the parchment paper and buns!
- Place the steamer on the pan. Leave the water to boil over medium high heat. Once it boils, lower the heat to medium and leave the buns to steam for 8-10 minutes.Note: I highly recommend to keep your heat at medium to medium low. Anything too hot may cause the buns to inflate too fast and then deflate. While too low of a heat can yield raw/uncooked buns. This may take some trial and error depending on the type of cooking stove you have.
- Afterwards, DO NOT open the steamer immediately. Leave it to sit for 10 minutes before taking the cooked buns out of the steamer.If you open it too soon, the buns can deflate from the sudden change in temperature. When you do transfer the buns from the steamer after 10 minutes, cover the cooked buns with a towel so it doesn’t quickly cool and dry out.
- Shape more buns and then leave to proof in the bamboo basket. Steam the next batch. Repeat this for the rest.
Storing the Buns
- Place the buns in a freezer-safe container. Line each one with the used parchment paper to avoid them from sticking.
- You can freeze the buns and reheat them by steaming from frozen until fluffy. No need to thaw from frozen.
Assembling the Gua Bao
- Carefully open a bun. Add in the pickled veggies, mushrooms, and kimchi (if using). Finish off with some chopped green onions and peanuts if desired. Enjoy!
Bamboo steamer:I highly suggest using a Bamboo Steamer because it has a bamboo lid that’ll absorb the moisture from the steam as it goes up. Using a different steamer with a glass/steel lid will cause the moisture to build up, that’ll eventually drip down on to the steamed buns and case them to be really moist and easily deflate.If you only have a metal/glass lid for your steamer, you can wrap a large cloth around your lid for it to be able to absorb some of the moisture when cooking.
Serving: 1bun | Calories: 131kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 95mg | Potassium: 164mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 1IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 15mg | Iron: 1mg