My little foray yesterday into chinese buns worked out pretty well. Having a food mixer with a dough hook made easy work of kneading up the dough, and easy rise yeast meant one step less to do.
I followed the instruction for shaping the flower rolls (huajuan) but my bumblings didn’t look anything like the example. See mine? They look like they fell of the back of a lorry and are writhing in pain.
No matter, I figured I would make man tou as well when I saw the huajuan looking so… peaky. Loved mantou too and they are so versatile – such homey treats, filled with meat or fish, or my favourite – peanut butter!
Prebaked mantou. Pretty easy, just round things. Legend has it that mantou actually derives from the word for “barbarians head” (same pronunciation, different first character). During the Three Kingdoms Period, commander Zhuge Liang had to cross a river to return home after a triumphant battle with the barbarian king Meng Huo. The barbarian custom was to sacrifice 50 men and throw their heads into the river to appease the spirit and allow them to cross. Zhuge Liang instead made meat filled buns in the shape of human heads and threw these into the river instead and was able to cross successfully! Somewhere along the line the word barbarian’s head has evolved into steamed bun ‘mantou’.
And out came rather respectable looking mantou! They are nice and fluffy so am rather pleased with how easy it all was. The huajuan… well I’m sorry to say though they taste lovely they look quite ugly so no photos of them!
For the huajuan, my recipe didn’t have any spring onions, which I really like in this kind of bun, so I googled huajuan and found this with a great method for shaping. Will try that next!
Liz the book I used was this one – the Weichuan series has some great ones (my favourite is Chinese Rice & Noodles – all my favourite noodle dishes are in there). My mom bought this one and Chinese One Dish Meals (also from Weichuan) way back when I was 19, and I still have the One Dish Meals one but a friend of mine who used to live in Taiwan was so excited by the Chinese Snacks cookbook I gave it to him, and have only just now seen it again on Amazon.co.uk! Yay! It’s awesome. Planning on making a huge meal for Chinese New year.