Don’t kid yourself, we all knew this wasn’t the delicious bread the residents of Gatetown thought it was.
Meol. Made best with freshly ground Sin Eaters. Or all-purpose flour, should you not happen to have any Eulmoran’s Best Sin Eater Flour in your cupboard (at least I don’t). Hence, I will be writing about an alternative version to warm, fluffy meol, and what Eulmoran cooks are probably cooking post-Vauthry: mantou, i.e. steamed bread. Most of you will know the filled version, which I will also cover, namely baozi.
The mantou bread is very versatile; you can add any type of filling that can hold its shape – be it sweet, thickened custard, red bean paste, ground beef, or grilled chicken. I am very fond of using leftover curry (which is pretty thick when cold).
Time to roll up your sleeves, it’s time to get a-kneading!
You will need
240 grams (approx. 2 cups) all-purpose flour
60 grams (approx. ½ cup) cornstarch or rice flour
4 grams (approx. 1 small packet) of active dry yeast (or equivalent)
1 tablespoon of oil
Approx. 120 to 240 ml (½ – 1 cup) cold milk or plant-based alternative
To achieve a white color, bleached flour is necessary; however, bleached flour is not readily available everywhere. To alleviate this issue, this recipe uses additional, whiter flours such as cornstarch or rice flour.
Proof your yeast with a few tablespoons warm water, the sugar and a few tablespoons of the flour. It can take about 10 minutes for the liquid to become bubbly. Mix all ingredients together except the milk. Add your proofed yeast. Start kneading. Gradually pour in the cold milk until a dough forms. Keep on kneading until you have a soft, elastic dough. If it’s too sticky, add some flour, if it becomes too dry, you may add a bit of water.
Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rest at room temperature for about 20 minutes. It will not necessarily double in size, but we don’t need it to! Form a thick strand of dough and cut it up into 12 pieces. Roll the pieces to form a ball. If you have a filling, proceed to step 2, if not, just continue as described below. Cut a line across the center with a sharp knife. Place the dough on parchment paper. Steam as described in step 3.
If you have a filling, flatten your dough balls, but not too much, else the filling will shine through. Add about a tablespoon of filling. Pinch the edges together and carefully roll into a ball again. Feel free to cut across the top or decorate in another way (I like to draw red dots on custard fillings with food ink pens). Place your buns on parchment paper and steam according to the directions in step 3.
Choose a pot on which your steamer fits and fill the pot with water. Bring it to a slow boil on medium-high heat. Reduce to medium-low heat. Put the bread with the parchment into your steamer and place it on your pot. Steam for about 8 to 10 minutes, until the buns are cooked through. Serve while still warm. If you plan on serving them later, you can easily freeze your buns and thaw them in the microwave or in a steamer.
Sweet sesame filling (vegan)
You will need
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
¾ tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
In a non-stick pan over medium heat, toast the flour until it becomes slightly brown in color, stirring constantly. Set aside, and mix the sugar and sesame and pulse in a blender until you have a powder. Mix the flour and powdered sugar-sesame mix. Roll out enough dough for a bun and fill with about ½ of a tablespoon full of powder.
1 tablespoon each of hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, dark soy sauce, and sesame oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 teaspoons Chinese Five Spice mix (Sichuan pepper, star anise, ginger, fennel seeds, cinnamon)
2 teaspoons (or more) chili flakes
2 small cloves of crushed garlic
Chopped fresh ginger, to taste
Mix all the ingredients together except the chicken and put in a sealable bag or Tupperware. Put the chicken in the marinade and let it soak up the flavors for at least an hour. Grill the chicken over an open flame or in the oven at 200°C (400°F) until the outside is dark brown and the inside is cooked (about 30 minutes in the oven, less over a barbeque grill). While it is still hot, shred the meat into small pieces with two forks. Let the chicken cool down.
Mix the chicken with some hoisin sauce. Roll out enough dough for a bun and fill with 1-2 teaspoon. The rest can be used for sandwiches!