Each year, I receive emails on dozens (and dozens) of cookbooks. I’ve perused literally hundreds of them, many of which are vegan. And I must say, most of them start to look the same. But when Meera Sodha’s latest cookbook entered my inbox, I was immediately inspired. Which is why I’m excited that she’s letting us share not one, but two sample recipes from East. In October, we posted her Creamy Vegan Miso Ramen with Tofu and Asparagus. And today, it’s time for homemade Vegan Mushroom Bao Buns. These handheld eats are great for parties, but are also a fun way to mix things up at dinner time.
Vegan Mushroom Bao Buns for Delicious Taiwanese Street Food at Home
East: 120 Vegan and Vegetarian Recipes from Bangalore to Beijing isn’t strictly dairy-free and vegan. In fact, you might need to get a little creative with a couple of the recipes that call for dairy. But the many recipes that are dairy-free and/or vegan (a few do use egg), are worth it.
Here is a small sampling of dairy-free recipes in East that have my interest piqued (trust me, there are many more):
- Onigiri Stuffed with Walnut Miso
- Sweet Potato Momos
- Thai Salad with Grapefruit and Cashews
- Rutabaga Laksa
- Caramelized Onion and Chile Ramen
- Eggplant Katsu Curry
- Squash Malai Kari
- Eggplant Pollichattu
- Brussels Sprout Nasi Goreng
- Sweet Potato and Broccolini Bibimbap
- Chile Tofu
- Seeni Sambol Buns
- Chickpea Flour Fries
- Banana Tarte Tatin with Cinnamon, Black Pepper, and Cloves
Each creation shows Meera’s passion for good food, and has a story behind it. Here is what she wrote about these Mushroom Bao Buns.
There is genuine pleasure to be had in things that feel just right: the weight of a pound coin, a bath at the perfect temperature, the feel of a well-worn wooden spoon. To this list, I’d add the bao: this little bun, a staple of Taiwanese street-food stalls, is ergonomically designed for eating—it ﬁts snugly into the nook of a hand; the pillowy dough gives like memory foam; and the semicircular shape slots cleanly into the mouth.
Special Diet Notes: Mushroom Bao Buns
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, tree nut-free, vegan, and vegetarian.
- 3 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose ﬂour, plus extra for dusting
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1¼ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup warm water
- Canola oil, for brushing
- ⅓ cup rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons water
- ½ cucumber, halved, deseeded,and thinly sliced
- ⅓ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup creamy peanut butter
- 2½ tablespoons rice vinegar
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1½ pounds oyster and shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
- Handful of salted peanuts, ground or finely chopped
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, yeast, and salt. Add the water little by little and bring the dough together using your hands; you should have a sticky ball.
- Turn the dough out onto a ﬂoured surface and knead for 5 minutes, until smooth and bouncy.
- Place the dough in an oiled bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and leave in a warm place to double in size for 1 to 1½ hours. (Make the Pickled Cucumbers while the dough rises)
- Turn the dough out onto a ﬂoured surface, knead for a minute to knock out the air, then divide into 10 equal pieces.
- Take one piece, ﬂatten it into a ½-inch-thick disk, then brush one half with a little oil. Fold the bun into a half-moon and place it on a small square of parchment paper on a tray. Repeat with the remaining dough.
- Loosely cover the tray with a kitchen towel and leave to rise for 30 minutes more. (Make the Mushroom Filling while the dough rises.)
- To cook the bao, set a steamer over a pan of simmering water. Put the bao, still on their parchment-paper mats, into the steamer in batches, making sure they don’t touch. Cover and steam for 8 minutes.
- Put the vinegar and water into a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, then pour into a bowl. Add the cucumber, and leave to cool.
- In a small bowl, whisk the soy sauce, peanut butter, vinegar, garlic, and sesame oil.
- Heat the canola oil in a frying pan over high heat. Add the mushrooms and fry for 6 minutes, until soft and browning at the edges. Stir in the sauce to coat, then turn the heat to medium and cook, stirring regularly, for 5 minutes, until the sauce reduces and darkens.
- Fill each bao with a generous tablespoon of mushrooms, 3 or 4 slices of cucumber and, for a little crunch, some peanuts.