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Vegan Tofu Bao Buns With Pickled Vegetables

Love vegetables and a satisfying challenge?! These handmade vegan bao buns with pickled vegetables are incredibly flavorful and fun to make. The spicy seared tofu, crisp refreshing veggies, and soft steamed buns are an outstanding combination that will make this your go-to vegan crowd-pleaser. Try making them with your friends and family for a fun dinner party.

by Matthew Johnson

Inspired by connoisseurusveg.com

Ingredients

for 12 servings

Steamed Bao Buns

  • 1 cup
    warm water (240 mL)
  • 2 tablespoons
    organic sugar
  • 1 tablespoon
    instant yeast
  • 3 cups
    all purpose flour, plus more for dusting (375 g)
  • 1 teaspoon
    baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon
    kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons
    vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons
    sesame oil, divided

Seared Glazed Tofu

  • 1 cup
    scallion, sliced (100 g)
  • ¼ cup
    fresh ginger, minced (15 g)
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup
    organic sugar (50 g)
  • 2 tablespoons
    chinese 5 spice
  • ¼ cup
    soy sauce (60 mL)
  • ¼ cup
    shaoxing rice wine (60 mL)
  • ¼ cup
    dark soy sauce (60 mL)
  • 12 oz
    firm tofu, pressed and sliced (340 g)
  • 2 tablespoons
    vegetable oil

Pickled Vegetables

  • 1 cup
    cucumber, julienned
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and julienned
  • 1 cup
    daikon radish, julienned (150 g)
  • 1 cup
    carrot, julienned (120 g)
  • 1 yellow pepper, seeded and julienned
  • 2 jalepenoes, sliced
  • ½ cup
    water (120 mL)
  • ½ cup
    organic sugar (100 g)
  • 1 cup
    rice vinegar (240 mL)
  • 1 tablespoon
    kosher salt

For Serving

  • hoisin sauce
  • scallion, sliced
  • sesame seed

Special Equipment

  • small rolling pin, or wooden dowel
  • 12 small squares parchment papers

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Preparation

  1. Make the bao buns: Add the warm water, sugar, and yeast to a liquid measuring cup. Whisk to combine, then set aside to bloom, five minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center. Add the yeast mixture and vegetable oil to the well and stir with a wooden spoon until a soft dough begins to form. Transfer the dough to a clean surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 3 minutes. Keep extra flour nearby in case the dough sticks to the surface or your hands. Shape into a ball.
  3. Lightly grease a clean large bowl with 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Place the dough in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
  4. Meanwhile marinate the tofu: In a medium bowl, whisk together the scallions, ginger, garlic, sugar, five-spice, soy sauce, rice wine, and dark soy sauce.
  5. Add the tofu to a separate medium bowl and pour the marinade over. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  6. Make the pickled vegetables: Prepare the cucumber, red pepper, daikon, carrot, yellow pepper, and jalapeños and set aside while you make the brine.
  7. In a large pot or deep pan over high heat, combine the water, sugar, rice vinegar, and salt. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then bring the mixture to a boil.
  8. Add the vegetables the brine. Stir to submerge, then remove the pot from the heat. Let sit while you sear the tofu and bake the buns, about 1 hour, then drain.
  9. Once the bao dough has risen, turn it out onto a floured surface. Divide the dough in half, then cut each half into 2 ounce pieces. Roll each piece into a ball.
  10. Working 1 at a time, flatten a ball with your palm on a lightly floured surface. Use a small rolling pin or wooden dowel to roll the dough out to a 5-inch round. Brush the top with sesame oil, fold it in half, and transfer it to a square of parchment paper set on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough. Cover the bao buns with a kitchen towel and let rest for 10 minutes.
  11. Bring a pot of water to a boil and set a bamboo steamer on top. Working in batches, transfer a few of the folded dough rounds at a time to the steamer, making sure the buns are not too crowded. Cover the steamer and steam the buns for 8-10 minutes, until the buns puff up and form a skin on the outside. Very carefully, lift the lid and remove the buns from the steamer. Repeat with the rest of the buns, keeping the steamed buns warm as they finish by covering with a towel.
  12. Sear the tofu: Remove the tofu from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Reserve the marinade.
  13. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the tofu and sear on one side until deep brown in color, about 5 minutes. Flip and cook on the other side until deep brown, 5 minutes more. Remove the tofu from the pan.
  14. Pour the reserved marinade into the skillet on medium heat and reduce until thick and syrupy, about 5 minutes. Return the tofu to the pan and stir to coat with the glaze. Remove the pan from the heat.
  15. To serve, slather the inside of the bao buns with hoisin sauce, then add the pickled vegetables, glazed tofu, sliced scallions, and sesame seeds.
  16. Enjoy!
 

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