A great tasting and classic Chinese treat, steamed buns (Bao) make a great snack any time. Just watch out for the calories!
Bao, a type of Dim Sum, have been around for almost 2000 years. They were quite common on the “silk road” between Asia and the West. They were the equivalent of the modern-day Egg McMuffin – quick to make and a great way to start the day. These particular Bao are “Cha Siu Bao“, meaning BBQ Pork Buns. That means they have a filling of diced sweet pork. If you’ve never tried them before, they are definitely a tasty treat. You can sometimes find similar bao as an appetizer in Cantonese Chinese restaurants, but since they are viewed primarily as a breakfast food, they can be hard to find.
So fortunately for us, Costco in SoCal started carrying these packages of bao about a year ago. As far as I can tell, Costco is the only place you can get these, as it appears that Okami primarily makes sushi, not bao. But that’s okay by me – they make a darn good cha sui bao.
So now the downsides. First, they’re pretty high in calories (150 per bun, and trust me, you can’t eat just one). Second, they have a massive Caloric Density, so it doesn’t take a lot of Bao to pack in the calories. And third, they’re also rather high in fat, sodium, cholesterol, and carbs, and low in vitamins and fiber. But at least the ingredients are relatively natural.
Preparation Tips: The package says you should cover them with plastic wrap (bad idea) or a damp paper towel, but I don’t think that’s necessary. However, what is necessary is that you cook them upside-down – if you don’t, they will stick to the plate (and I recommend using a coated paper plate). In my 1550 watt microwave, 20 seconds per bun is just about the perfect amount of cooking time (which is a bit longer than the package says). If you’re going to make more than one, try to arrange them in a circle in the very center of the microwave. Cook for 10 seconds/bun, and then rotate each bun 180 degrees and cook them for another 10 seconds/bun. That will cook them evenly. It’s a tricky game – you don’t want to eat undercooked pork, but you also don’t want buns that are chewy from over-cooking, so you should experiment a little to get it right. Oh, and they can also be prepared in a steamer, over something called a “stove,” whatever that is…
Calories per serving: 300 (Caloric Density 3.03 – Wow!!)