Banana Peel Char Siu Bao

"It's hard to laugh at someone slipping on a banana peel once you discover they make a great shredded meat substitute. Now it just seems wasteful. Make this recipe alongside the Smoked shallot caviar from The Vegan Butcher  as the leftover shallots are perfect to mix in with the bao filling for a low-waste combo." Recipe extracted from pg 194 of Zacchary's new book, The Vegan Butcher.

Makes 12

INGREDIENTS

  • finely chopped spring onions (scallions), to serve
  • chinkiang vinegar or soy sauce, to serve

Bao

  • 1 teaspoon instant dried yeast
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) warm water
  • 235 g (8 1/2 oz) cake flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoons caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon neutral-flavoured oil, plus extra for greasing and brushing
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) soy milk

Peel Pulled ‘Pork’ (or use 380g store-bought plant-based pork)

  • 190 g (6½ oz) banana peels from approximately 6 barely ripe, large bananas (yellow with tinges of green and no spots)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 190 g (6½ oz) king oyster mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, sliced

Char Siu Sauce

  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 2 tablespoons rice malt syrup or vegan honey
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon shaoxing wine
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon vegan-friendly red food colouring
  • 1 small pinch of white pepper

METHOD

To prepare the peel pulled pork:

  1. Peel the bananas and reserve the banana flesh for another recipe. Slice off the banana skin ends, then use a spoon to scrape out the remaining flesh.
  2. Thoroughly wash the banana skins and pat dry with paper towel. Place the skins on a chopping board and use a fork to shred the skin.
  3. Place in a bowl, drizzle with the sesame oil and massage in the garlic. Slice off the king oyster mushrooms caps and shred as well.
  4. Microwave the char siu sauce ingredients for 30 seconds, then whisk to combine. Alternatively, whisk in a small saucepan over low heat until thickened.
  5. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok over medium heat. Add the onion and mushroom and toss for 5 minutes to brown. Mix through the banana peel mixture. Cook for 5 minutes, then pour in the char siu sauce. Allow to thicken for another 5 minutes, tossing frequently until the banana peel changes appearance. Remove from the heat and allow to cool, then use in banana peel char siu bao.

To start on the bao:

  1. Combine the yeast and warm water in a jug. Set aside for a few minutes, then add a pinch of flour. Once the yeast froths up, it’s ready to go. Combine the rest of the flour, the baking powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Whisk the oil and milk into the yeast mixture, then pour into the well. Gently stir to combine until the yeast mixture is completely incorporated, then form into a loose dough.
  2. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. It’s ready when you press down on the dough and it springs back. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave for 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.
  3. Give the risen dough a quick knead and divide into 12 balls. Lay a large sheet of baking paper on your work surface. Roll each dough ball into a round, flat disc (you can roll between a second square of baking paper, if needed) and divide the pork mixture in the centre of each. Pick up one round in one hand and use your other hand to fold and pinch the edge of the dough over the filling, moving around the entire circumference until you can pinch the folds together at the top to seal the bun in a neat spiral. Cover the buns with a tea towel and rest on the baking paper for 30 minutes.
  4. Prepare a large steamer. Steam the char siu bao in two batches for 12 minutes. Allow to cool for 20 minutes before attempting to dig in. These are best eaten fresh, scattered with spring onions and served with chinkiang vinegar or soy sauce for dipping.

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Guest Blogger Zacchary Bird

I’m into indulgent food that looks and tastes like it shouldn’t be vegan, just to prove we can. See all recipes by Zacchary

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