Published on June 16, 2022 at 6:15 p.m.
In recent years, its popularity has been such that it has been nicknamed “the new burger”. And yet, the bao, the popular snack for millions of Chinese, has existed for millennia! According to legend, we owe the Baozi (its real name) to the strategist Zhuge Liang who, in the 3rd century, learned a technique for preparing the dough, called “mantou”. As his soldiers were about to cross a dangerous river, the enemies on the other side demanded from Zhuge Liang 50 heads of his soldiers, in exchange for which they would allow him to cross the obstacle. The strategist then prepared 50 mantou buns in the shape of a head, as a decoy, and thus spared his army. To celebrate this savior bao, the Chinese poet Shu Xi transcribed the recipe with bewitching poetry: “Twice-sifted flour / Snow of white dust blown away […] For the stuffing, spare ribs or shoulder of mutton / Cut into small sections / Like the gravel or the pearls of a necklace. This is why this meat-stuffed bun has survived the centuries to become the most famous appetizer in China and Vietnam, but not only.
Read also: Bleu Bao: Céline Chung unveils exclusive recipes
A trendy brioche
However hype it may be across the Atlantic, the bao has been particularly highlighted in France, thanks to Céline Chung and Billy Pham, at the head of the “Bao Family”. In a slightly revisited traditional decor, inspired by the flamboyant colors of Hong Kong, the duo opened their third restaurant in Paris last February “Bleu Bao”, after “Gros Bao” and “Petit Bao”. The chef, Victor, who comes from northern China, gives us his family recipe here… like a one-way ticket to the Middle Kingdom.
Chief Victor’s siu bao tank (Bleu Bao)
For about 8 bao
400g pork belly
For the char siu sauce
20g soy sauce
20 g dark soy sauce
40g oyster sauce
30g fermented soybean paste
50 cl of water
25g potato starch
For the dough
250g of flour
12.5 cl of water
60g of sugar
7 g baking powder
7g dry yeast
For the marinated meat
The day before, mix the ingredients for the sauce in a saucepan, until the sugar has dissolved.
Take half of the sauce that we will use as a marinade.
Put the pork in a small container, cover with marinade.
Film and leave in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
Preheat the oven to 190°C.
Bake for 10 to 15 minutes depending on the size of the pork pieces.
In a bowl, mix all the ingredients for the binding.
Boil the remaining char siu sauce.
Add the “liaison” mixture little by little, while stirring.
Cut the meat into 5mm dice.
Add them to the sauce.
For the dough
Put all the flour on the work surface and make a well.
Add the sugar and yeast to it.
Then pour the water, mix with your fingertips, little by little.
Use a rolling pin to bring the flour to the center and mix well.
Mix until a homogeneous paste is obtained.
Knead for 10 minutes then leave to rest for 20 minutes.
Once the dough has rested, make a sausage.
Cut out dough pieces of about 40 g.
Spread the dough with the palm of your hand to obtain a disk.
For right-handers, hold the disc with the left hand, and the roller with the right hand.
With the roller, start from the center outwards, then turn a quarter turn.
Repeat the operation until you obtain a disk with a diameter of about 15 cm.
For folding, take the dough in the left hand.
Place the stuffing in the center.
Pinch the edges with the fingers of the right hand.
Fold the dough like a 3 pointed star then close.
Bake in a bamboo basket for 20 minutes, until the surface of the dough is plump and toned.
Put water in a saucepan on the fire.
When the water begins to simmer, cook for 10 minutes.