How to make Chinese Buns southern style steamed and fried? Today, we wanted to show you how to make Mantou, Chinese steamed buns.

Now there are three major types of Chinese mantou: the northern type which traditionally uses a sourdough starter mixed with some strong alkalines to balance the acidity, the southwestern sort which opts instead for using fermented rice to make the starter, and finally, the southern variety which uses baking powder and instant yeast.

How To Make Chinese Buns?

Especially compared to the northern sort, they’re a bit sweeter and fluffier, and if you’ve eaten Mantou abroad these are generally what you’ll find at Dim Sum joints and the like.

Now eventually we do want to teach you all three, but the Southern sort is the most straightforward of the bunch so we figured it’d be a good place to start with some Mantou basics.

So. To get started with your fluffy southern Mantou, you’ll need water.

See, because this bun really loads up on sugar and yeast, we’ll need to dissolve those two things separately.

So to 45 grams of water mix in 20 grams of granulated sugar really making sure that’s it all good and combined then do the same thing with another 45 grams of water and 2 grams or one teaspoon of instant dry yeast.

These are sorted separately because a high sugar environment can actually pull moisture out of and damage yeast, making for an overly dense end result.

Now in a separate bowl, sift 200 grams of all-purpose flour together with one teaspoon of baking powder, and for reference the AP
we’re using here in China is 10.8% protein to be precise.

Then add the yeast water, slowly drizzling and mixing that in, aiming for the dry spots, then do the same thing with the sugar water.

Now knead that for eight minutes, alternatively using a stand mixer on speed one if you prefer until your dough reaches about this consistency.

Now cover, and let that rest for thirty minutes.

Now one of the hallmarks of southern style mantou is its smooth skin, which’s accomplished by repeatedly rolling the dough out thin before shaping.

It’s a characteristic technique in Dim Sum buns in order to remove air from the dough and ensure a smooth texture you can also see it in stuff like lotus seed paste buns or the ever-popular Nai wong bao.

So first flatten your dough, and to make our job a bit easier we’ll be using a pasta maker on the widest setting to finish the
job. Fold that over itself, then pass it through again six times in total.

And yes, we are totally aware that our little Ikea table’s being super unphotogenic here if anyone has any ideas on how to accomplish this all a bit more elegantly, we’re all ears.

But regardless, after those six passes through the pasta maker – and again, feel free to do that by hand if you prefer, starting from
the back tightly rolls this all up into a log you should be looking at something that’s about 25 centimeters long.

Then flour a work surface, and lightly press down on the dough so that the bottom flattens ever so slightly.

Using a sharp knife now, cut that dough into half, then quarters, and finally into eight individual Mantous.

Don’t try to use a bench scraper for this step – from experience being less sharp, it slightly presses the dough and muffs up that classic mantou shape that you’re going for.

And speaking of looks, definitely also slice off the uneven bits of dough at the two ends rolling it into a stupid ugly ball because I mean, not all our children need to be above average.

Then just place your Mantou on some suitably sized squares of parchment paper nestle those in a steamer and these are good to proof.

Now for standardization’s sake to proof, we’ll be tossing those over a wok filled with twenty-eight centigrade water for 15 minutes, just in case your climate isn’t quite the same as our Guangdong climate.

So now, to steam. If you can, forgive us real quick for moving into our terribly lit kitchen for this step.

See, our little outside camper burner is down to its very last can of butane and right now it’s a touch annoying to buy more because it is the apocalypse outside so if it’s alright with you, we’ll just finish this all on the stove.

So with the steamer over the water, turn your flame to medium and let it all come up to a boil watching the cracks for steam.

Once the water’s boiling and steam’s obviously coming out, set your timer for five minutes.

The reason we’re steaming this gently is so that it doesn’t heat up too fast and form air bubbles on the surface of the Mantou.

So then five minutes later, heat off, and for the same reason don’t peak for another five minutes.

And after that time, the Mantou are done.

If you do see a couple with some slight wrinkling, don’t panic, they’ll still be tasty but most should be nice and smooth.

If they’re not, it likely means you either over-proofed them or steamed them at too high of a heat.

Now, to be completely honest, part of the reason to make southern-style mantou, for me at least, is that it’s a great excuse
to eat deep-fried mantou.

And if the mantou is starting to get ever so slightly stale, it’s a good way to use them up too.

So in a wok get about two cups of oil up to 175 centigrade, and add in the Mantou.

Fry for about thirty seconds, give them a flip, then fry for another minute, turning periodically.

Then take them out, and your deep-fried Mantou is ready to devour perfect dipped in way too much-condensed milk.

So this is the Southern Dim Sum Mantou. Another style is the Northern laomian mantou, which uses sourdough and tastes plain.

People would often use it as starch in a meal and eat it alongside other dishes and some people stir-fry the mantou and make it into a dish and in the future, we’ll also show you how to make the northern laomian mantou.


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