Cornmeal Bao with Turkey and Black Pepper Sauce

These pillowy steamed buns are delicious in all the same ways as Parker House rolls, with the sweet flavor of cornmeal.


Cornmeal Bao

  • 1 ¼-ounce envelope active dry yeast (about 2¼ teaspoons)
  • 1 cup Jiffy corn muffin mix
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more

Sauce and Assembly

  • 1 green or red Thai chile, thinly sliced
  • 1 ½-inch piece ginger, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons dark or regular soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mushroom or regular soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Pastrami-Style Grilled Turkey Breast, mayonnaise, bread-and-butter pickles, shredded carrots, and cilantro leaves with tender stems (for serving)

Recipe Preparation

Cornmeal Bao

  • Stir sugar and yeast into ⅔ cup warm (100°) water in a small bowl. Let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes. Whisk flour, corn muffin mix, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl to combine. Stir sugar mixture into dry ingredients, then stir in 2 Tbsp. oil. Mix just until a shaggy dough forms.

  • Turn dough out onto a work surface. Gently knead just until smooth (be careful not to overwork). Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot until dough is puffed and yields easily when poked, about 1½ hours.

  • Divide dough into 16 balls and gently roll between your palms until smooth. Roll out each ball to a 6x3" oval, lightly brush with oil, then fold in half crosswise. Cover bao with a damp cloth and let rise until slightly puffy, 60–90 minutes.

  • Place a bamboo steamer lined with parchment paper over a large pot of simmering water (or you can use a steamer basket). Steam bao in batches until firm to the touch and cooked through, 10–12 minutes per batch.

  • Do Ahead: Dough can be made 12 hours ahead; chill instead of letting rise. Let rise 2 hours. Bao can be steamed 1 week ahead; tightly wrap and freeze. Thaw and steam 3 minutes to restore softness just before serving.

Sauce and Assembly

  • Cook sugar and soy sauce in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until sugar is dissolved; let cool.

  • Transfer to a small bowl and mix in chile, ginger, garlic, dark soy sauce, mushroom soy sauce, vinegar, and pepper. Let black pepper sauce sit 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld.

  • Build sandwiches with bao using turkey, black pepper sauce, mayonnaise, pickles, carrots, and cilantro.

  • Do Ahead: Sauce can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.

Recipe by Josh Walker & Duolan Li,

Nutritional Content

For 8 servings: Calories (kcal) 220 Fat (g) 6 Saturated Fat (g) 1 Cholesterol (mg) 0 Carbohydrates (g) 38 Dietary Fiber (g) 0 Total Sugars (g) 6 Protein (g) 5 Sodium (mg) 980Reviews SectionMy dough was very dry and did not rise much. They puffed a bit after steaming, but were rather dense. I am going to try to make them again before Thanksgiving, because they had a good flavor. But wondering what the correct consistency of the dough should be. Mine was like a pie crust and that didn't seem right.....AnonymousBrooklyn NY11/25/19Angsturban: If you haven't found a Jiffy mix sub yet, here's a good recipe.www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/jiffy-corn-muffin-mix-copycat-345502If the only cornmeal available is coarse, you'll need to grind it finer. I blitz mine in a blender to about the coarseness of whole grain flour, just a bit rougher than AP flour. Coarser might work for you, but the larger grains were still really hard in my first batch. The blitzed version was delicious.any ideas what us european folks can use in place of the Jiffy muffin mix?angsturbanHungary03/20/19

Recipe Summary

  • 1 ½ pounds ground pork sausage
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • ⅛ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Place sausage in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain and rinse in colander under cold water, breaking sausage into pea sized pieces.

Return to skillet along with the condensed milk, and heat over medium until just bubbling. Immediately stir in the cornmeal and pepper and reduce heat to simmer. Continue cooking, 5 minutes total mush will be stiff.

Pack into 8x4 loaf pan, cover and chill overnight. To serve, cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices and saute until golden in nonstick skillet.

Cooking Remarks

Try to get a piece of pork belly at least 2 inches thick and 2 inches wide, with thick bands of meat evenly sandwiched between bands of pure white fat. Much of the fat will render during roasting, raining down on the meat and basting it. By the time the pork is finished, its residual fat will be fairly minimal. When you cut the roasted pork to make the filling, don’t trim away all of the fat that remains—leave some for flavor.

Meet your new neighbors! To produce its complex intoxicating flavors and aroma, char siu requires a number of ingredients that fall well outside the Western grocery cart. (See the mug shots below for identification purposes.)

One exotic ingredient we do not use is fermented red bean curd, the product from which authentic char siu bao gets its color. The bean curd in question has been marinated in brine and red yeast rice, a rice inoculated with bright red yeast mold and, in this case, milled to a flour. We were thrilled to discover it and thrilled to experiment with it in our recipe, but the fermented red bean curd we tried put a bitter twist on the marinade, so we let it go. Use a drop of red food coloring (there are safe options out there) if you wish, or forsake the coloring altogether.

•Fermented Soybeans A number of recipes for char siu call for peanut butter or ketchup instead of fermented soybeans, but that was getting way too western for us. Fermented soybeans have an ethereal scent and flavor reminiscent of miso, and pitch in on a number of levels.

•Chinese Rose Wine (Mui Kwe Lu) This is actually an eau-de-vie infused with rose petals, not a wine. We cannot describe precisely what sort of alchemical magic it performs in the company of other exotic ingredients in this recipe, but the pork notes its absence. In New York’s Chinatown, we found rose wine from but two producers: one from Hong Kong and one from mainland China. They were both rather pricey. We bought the one from Hong Kong because the bottle was prettier. We’ve heard that some large Chinese markets sell inexpensive rose wines. Since we can’t comment on their quality, it might be best to stay out of their way. But our mui kwe lu is tasty enough to earn a front row seat in the liquor cupboard!

•Chinkiang Black Vinegar The ultimate rice vinegar, brewed from sticky rice, Chinkiang black vinegar has a complex smoky flavor and relatively low acidity. If you cannot find it, substitute regular rice vinegar, but not seasoned rice vinegar.

•Maltose This is the stickiest, feistiest sugar superglue on the planet. (Maltose is produced from cornstarch through a double-enzyme technique.) It makes a huge difference in the sticky, sweet final finish on the char siu. We tried a number of substitutes, from reduced corn syrup to malt syrup, but nothing approached the grip and tenacity of maltose. Heaven knows, it will keep forever, so the next time you’re roasting up a Peking duck, you’ll know where to reach.

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The fermented-batter pancake/crêpe from India offers a blank canvas for flavorful fillings. Be authentic with the dosa and nontraditional with its fillings. While savory profiles dominate, sweet variants would be

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Whole Wheat Bao with Black Bean Tofu, The Steamed Bun for Everyone

Bao are hot right now. At least if you pay attention to all the chatter about places like Momofuku in NYC. Bao are simply Chinese steamed buns, and they come in many forms. The folded bao that they serve at places like Momofuku are made with a fluffy, sweet white flour bun, that is opened and stuffed with a hunk of pork and some scallions and pickled vegetables, all with a smear of hoisin sauce.

Basically, a sandwich on fresh, warm bread, filled with savory, crisp, sweet and sour. No wonder everybody loves them. Of course, I had to make some with tofu, instead of pork.

These buns are the descendants of a Taiwanese festival bun, Galled Gua Bao, and according to Lucky Peach, they were originally an offering to the Earth god, because they resemble a purse overflowing with money. Now they are sold at street stalls in China and all over the world.

The Bao is about the size of a slider, with a very particular kind of bread. I’ve been making dim sum for many years, and teaching classes on the art of steamed buns, dumplings, and other tidbits. The first time you have steamed bread it is a revelation, because the crust is soft and pale, rather than crisp and brown from the oven. The dough is always salt-free and has some sugar in it, making it a completely different experience from our Western bread.

For my whole wheat bao, I used white whole wheat flour. It’s paler and a little finer in texture, depending on the brand. It’s also a little lower in gluten, so it can make a tender dough, if you don’t over-knead it. I used coconut oil in and on the dough, a trick I came up with to replace the traditional lard. Lard is big in Chinese cuisine, where pork is a long time favorite food. Coconut oil has a buttery mouthfeel and a relatively neutral flavor. I used refined, not extra-virgin, just to keep the coconut flavor from being prominent. The dough is usually leavened with both yeast and baking powder, so it gets a nice rise in the steamer.

I have a large stainless steel steamer that I bought for making large quantities of steamed dumplings and buns, but if you don’t have one, you can rig one from things you have around. A plate, placed on a cake rack in a large pot of simmering water will work. you just need to be able to keep the water from touching the bottom of the plate, and to close the lid tightly. I’ve even used four wads of foil in the bottom of the pan to hold the plate above the water, and it worked. You just need the buns to be in steam, not water.

Once I mixed up the dough, it was quite tacky, which is good. Whole wheat flour absorbs more water than white, and it takes it a few minutes to do it. It’s far better to have a sticky dough and knead it a bit on a floured counter, then let it rest, than to add more flour at the start and have a dense, heavy bread.

Once I let it rise for an hour, the dough was supple and easy to shape. I divided it in 12 pieces and formed each into an oval, brushed it with coconut oil, and folded it to make the bao shape. Just fold it, don’t press, and the coconut oil will keep the bread from melding completely. Then I placed each one on a parchment square and on the steamer pan. I let them rise for 30 minutes.

While all of that was going on, I had tofu baking in the oven, coated with black bean sauce and hot sesame oil.

The tofu will never be as unctuous as I imagine pork belly to be, but it is pretty darn tasty in its own right, with all the umami of fermented black soy and tamari smeared over it.

I steamed the buns for about 20 minutes over medium heat, giving them some time to puff in the steam.

For the finished bao, I stirred up some hoisin sauce with peanut butter and honey, for a salty sweet spread. Some minced scallions, pea shoots, and julienned daikon and carrots tossed with rice vinegar and salt were all I needed.

Whole Wheat Bao with Black Bean Tofu

1 14 ounce block extra-firm organic tofu

3 tablespoons black bean sauce

1 teaspoon hot sesame oil

3 cups white whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon quick rise yeast

2 tablespoons coconut oil, plus a couple tablespoons for brushing

1 large carrot, finely julienned

1 cup finely julienned daikon

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons peanut butter

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Oil a sheet pan and reserve. Mix up the black bean sauce, tamari, hot oil and honey in a medium bowl. Press the tofu in a towel and then slice it into 6 1/2 inch thick slices, then slice them in half to make 12 squares. Gently coat the tofu with the black bean mixture and place on the baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes, let cool.

Cut parchment into squares about 2 inches by 2 inches. You need 12.

For the dough, stir the flour, sugar, yeast and baking powder in a large bowl. In a cup, mix the warm water and melted coconut oil and stir into the dough. Stir until it becomes a shaggy mass, then knead gently to mix. When it becomes sticky, place on a floured counter and knead until a soft dough is formed. Place in a oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap for an hour.

Prep the fillings, combine the carrot, daikon, vinegar and salt and toss, let stand. Mince the scallions and reserve. Mix the spread in a small bowl and reserve.

To make the bao, divide the dough into 12 pieces, then form each into an oval. Flatten each on the counter to make 5-6 inch long, 3 inch wide ovals of dough. Baste each on both sides with coconut oil, then fold and place each on a parchment square on the steamer tray or plate you will be using.

Preheat the steamer, and when the buns are slightly puffed, place the steamer over the boiling water. Cover, and when the steam is filling the pan and escaping out the sides, reduce to medium. Cook for about 20 minutes, until the buns are puffed and cooked through.

To serve, open each bun and smear with hoisin sauce, sprinkle with scallions, place a tofu square inside and top with the daikon mixture. Top with a few pea shoots. Close and serve immediately, with Sriracha sauce on the side.

Beginner's Baked Bao With Pulled Pork

Here’s a great recipe for practicing your Chinese stuffed bun skills. The dough is ready-made, and the versatile filling options are easy to whip up.

At a moderate (70 degrees) room temperature, the parkerhouse roll dough pieces will defrost in about 1 1/2 hours – plenty of time to make and cool the filling. If using Bridgford’s Frozen White Rolls Dough, portion the filling into 18 balls.

Use pulled pork that’s on the sweet side, such as Kingsford brand sold at supermarkets. Feel free to substitute other pulled meats or meat substitutes for the pork. When done, if the flavor is too vinegary, mix in sugar, a teaspoon at a time. Potato starch will lend a handsome sheen, which will make the filling look more appetizing when you bite into the bao.

Make Ahead: The filling needs to be refrigerated for at least 30 minutes, and up to 4 days in advance. The filled bao need to rise for 50 to 60 minutes. Baked bao can be refrigerated for up to 3 days reheat in a 350-degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes reglaze with more honey water, if desired. In testing, we found that the bao also reheated well in the microwave heat in 15-second increments until warmed through.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

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For the filling: As needed, coarsely chop the pulled pork, so the pieces will be small enough to use as bao filling.

Whisk together the sugar, potato starch or cornstarch, soy sauce and water in a medium bowl.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot or onion cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring, until some of the pieces are golden. Add the pork cook for 1 to 2 minutes to warm through, pressing on any larger pieces to break them apart.

Re-whisk the starch mixture, then pour into the pan cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds, until thickened. The mixture should form into a solid mass. Remove from the heat. Taste, and season with pepper, as needed, for a whisper of heat.

Spread the filling out on a plate refrigerate, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring midway, to cool completely.

For the bao: Defrost the dough according to package directions.

Meanwhile, for easy bun assembly, use two teaspoons to portion the pulled pork filling into 24 compact balls, each about 1 inch wide. Place them on a plate as you work. If not using within an hour, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

If there are lots of visible flour bits on the dough, knock them off with a pastry brush. To make things manageable, work with half the dough and filling at a time. Flouring the work surface isn’t usually required for this dough.

Take a piece of dough and gently roll it into a ball. Put it on your work surface and smack it with the heel of your hand into a circle about 2 3/4 inches wide. Holding the dough round in one hand, center a ball of filling on it, lightly pressing down to seat the filling in place. Imagine the dough round as a clock: Pull 6 and 12 o’clock up and over the dough ball and pinch to seal over the center. Repeat with 3 and 9 o’clock and seal. The result is a squarish bundle.

Using your fingertips, gently pinch the corners and sides toward the center to seal and form a ball. Place on your work surface, pleat side down, then use your fingertips to rotate the ball and tuck any awkward bulges underneath, ensuring an even round shape. Place on one of the baking sheets, pleat side down, spacing the buns about 1 1/2 inches apart. Repeat to fill and shape the remaining dough pieces. (As you feel comfortable, smack and fill the dough pieces in batches the dough shrinks a bit as it sits, but you can re-smack it before placing the filling. You may have a little of the filling left over you can eat it as a cook's treat.)

Lightly grease a piece of plastic wrap with cooking oil spray (or brush with oil), then use it to loosely cover the buns. Let them rise in a warm place for 50 to 60 minutes, until each is roughly 2 1/4 inches wide.

About 15 minutes before the rising time is over, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together the honey and water in a small bowl.

Uncover the buns, then brush them with some of the honey-water mixture. Bake (middle rack) one sheet at a time, for 14 to 16 minutes, until puffed and golden brown.

While the buns are still hot, brush them with more of the honey water (expect a little sizzling on the pan) this will glaze them.

Slice of Rice

Combine panko, cornmeal, Parm-Reg, parsley, thyme, and s&p together in a shallow dish for breading. In another shallow dish, whisk together 1/2 cup Dijon mustard and eggs. Rinse chicken cutlets and pat dry with paper towels. Dip cutlets first into mustard-egg mixture, coating well, but allowing any excess to drip off. Then dip cutlets into breadcrumb mixture and coat well. Gently shake off excess breadcrumbs.

Melt 1 tbsp butter with 1 tbsp in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of chicken to skillet - do not overcrowd. Cook chicken until golden, about 3 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining butter, oil and chicken. If you want to get all of the chicken cooked at one time, go ahead and use two large skillets, rather than trying to squeeze all of the chicken in at once. If you do cook the chicken in shifts, you can keep the first batch warm on a cookie sheet in an oven heated to 250 degrees F while you cook the second batch.

In a small bowl, mix together remaining 2 tbsp Dijon mustard and 2 tbsp honey. If necessary, dilute the honey mustard with 1 tsp evoo.

Steamed Buns (Baozi)

They may not be the prettiest buns you've ever seen, but don't let looks deceive you&mdashthese rank high on my list of all the steamed buns I've ever eaten. Making steamed buns that look like beauty queens might take some practice but it's really what's on the inside that matters here: The dough is soft but not too cakey, tender with a slight chew, with a barely sweetened taste that pairs well with, well, almost anything.

There are endless variations on the steamed bun across different cultures and regions: different dough recipes, different fillings, different cooking methods. Below, I've given three separate filling options, all of which can be made a day in advance: a meaty cabbage-pork combo, a flexible miso-carrot mix that can be vegan or pescatarian, and a sweet red bean paste version that can be served as dessert. Let these be mere suggestions: Once you have the dough made, you can play around with creating your own filling variations. Known as 包子 (baozi) in Chinese , the steamed bun literally translates to "a little package"&mdash at its core, it's a humble bread house that welcomes whatever your heart desires to stuff into it and can be eaten at any time of day, on any day of the year.

On yeast and flour

Once upon a time in the olden days, like most traditional bread recipes, Chinese steamed buns were made with sourdough preferments. To keep the flavor consistent and the process a little more convenient for our modern-day lifestyles, I've chosen to use commercial dry yeast in this version. You can use active dry or instant yeast interchangeably for this recipe.

Many Chinese steamed buns use a specific type of low-protein all-purpose flour that can be hard to find in many parts of the U.S. To approximate the texture that kind of flour achieves, we will be using two techniques. First, to keep the bun texture fluffy but not dry and powdery, take a minute to make a water roux with cornstarch. Similar to a tangzhong starter that's commonly used in milk bread recipes, this lightly-heated gelatinized mix will add a light bounce and desirable tackiness to your bun.

The second technique is to use boiling liquid in the dough to create a more tender steamed bun with just the right amount of chew. Heat a portion of milk to a simmer (microwave or stovetop are both fine) and stir it into the flour before adding in the remaining milk and bloomed yeast mixture&mdashthe hot milk will partially set and tame the gluten network in the dough to limit toughness.

Hand-mixed vs. stand-mixer dough

If working by hand, to avoid burning out your arms and worsening your carpal tunnel syndrome, bring the dough together and knead just until it forms a cohesive dough with no dry pockets. It might not be smooth right away&mdashthat's okay. Cover the bowl and return to it 30 minutes later, and you'll find that it has relaxed and become easier to knead. From here, work the dough by gently folding the edges into the center, similar to the stretch and fold technique used in our sourdough bread and whole wheat bread recipes. Return to the dough and repeat this quick fold two more times and your dough should be ready to go.

While I prefer to observe and feel the dough change underneath my hands during the kneading process (it's quite meditative and therapeutic!), you can also use a stand-mixer to get the job done. If you don't feel like returning to the dough periodically over 2 hours, let the mixer go until the dough is pretty smooth&mdashanywhere from 5 to 15 minutes, depending on your mixer speed&mdashthen cover the bowl, step away, and let the dough rise until it's nearly doubled in size.

To pleat or not to pleat

For a classic savory steamed bun look, you're going to want to pleat these buns. Truth be told, it's a bit difficult to get the hang of it as a beginner! As with all things, practice makes perfect. The key is to roll out your portion dough so that the center of each round is thicker than the edges: Thinner edges are easier to fold and pinch. Use one hand to fold and hold the pleats in place while the other supports the bottom of the bun and continuously pushes the filling into the dough to ensure enclosure.

But there's absolutely no rule that states you have to pleat your steamed buns! If the idea of messily pleated buns give you the kind of anxiety I experienced while making these, you can forgo the pleat attempt and simply cinch the edges together, flip the bun upside down so that the seams are on the bottom. Give the bun a gentle tuck and roll on your work surface to seal completely.

How to steam your buns

You can use a metal steamer basket that fits inside a deep pot, or traditional bamboo steamers. To ensure a non-stick release, place your buns on top of 3" squares of parchment paper before setting them inside your steamer. They will double in size during proofing and cooking, so make sure there's at least 2" of space between each bun.

There are a few things to keep in mind to adjust the bun's texture to your liking. To develop a shiny, chewy skin on your bun, let the buns proof uncovered. This exposure to air will let the surface dough dry out and harden slightly, giving it that characteristic texture. For a fluffier bun, let the dough proof longer, about 1 hour. For a chewier, denser bun, shorten the proof time to about 30 minutes.

Gradual heating and cooling will yield a smoother surface on your buns and ensure a more evenly cooked bun. Start the steaming process with cold water: Fill your pot with about 2 cups of cold water, ensuring that the surface of the water has at least 2" clearance from the bottom of the steamer basket. Cover your steamer, then turn the heat on, and once the water is up to a boil, lower your heat to a medium-low. Steam for 10 minutes, then turn off the heat&mdashbut keep the lid on for 5 more minutes! Uncovering right away will shock the buns with cold air, which will make them shrink and wrinkle the skin.

These buns can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days or frozen in an airtight bag once cool for longer storage. To reheat, re-steam in a steamer basket, or in the microwave alongside a separate bowl of hot water (to simulate a steam environment).

If you've made these buns, please drop us a line down below, leave a rating, let us know how you liked 'em, and if you've made any other kinds of fillings!

Ingredients: 4 cups (500 ml) all purpose or bread flour 1 teaspoon sugar 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup ghee or neutral oil (plus additional for spreading) 1 1/4 cups (approx. 280 ml) warm water Instructions: In stand mixer, add water, ghee, sugar, salt and mix well, slowly add flour to incorporate Knead to form a soft and sticky dough (about 5 minutes)…

Ingredients 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch 1/8 teaspoon chili powder 1 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon paprika 1/2 teaspoon white sugar 1 teaspoon onion powder 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 teaspoon ground cumin Directions: Stir cornstarch, chili powder, salt, paprika, sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and cumin together in a small bowl.