Do you ever get bored and itch to just make something? I've been craving to steam something for the longest time and decided to make some Chinese Mantou, which is just a steamed flour bun. I hated Mantou growing up. Mainly because they don't taste like much and my parents would normally buy this to be a snack when we were hungry. Sometimes we would even eat this for breakfast... it was a nightmare...!
There are a lot of Chinese Soap Operas that were recreated to be in the Hans Dynasty. Mantou was known to be the foods the dirt poor would eat. Like literally. There would be very depressing scenes where a prince, would turn into a bum, and then look like he's been out in the dessert with dry ass chapped lips, ridiculous crazy hair with ripped up shoes (Chinese film makers over exaggerated, but we all loved it). And for some awkward reason it's POURING rain, and a Mantou, out of the freaking blue falls on the ground and rolls up to his feet. It's all dirty and stuff, but he picks it up, looks at it passionately, starts eating it and crying at the same time. Or there are other series with the same scenario, but a dog eats it before he gets to it, and someone that feels sorry (normally a really pretty princess) would come by and buy a whole basket for him. OR (last one I PROMISE), the bum/prince guy, would see a family with children starving and gives them the bun instead.
You see how complicated it gets?
But honestly, Mantou is one of those food items that you hated, and never appreciated until you are a lot older, and start reflecting on your childhood. Now, I really enjoy it. It's the base of a lot of things and you can eat it in many different ways. The way that you are going to see below is whatever scraps at home you can find. Recipes for this, and for all bread normally, is required to have yeast. Well I don't have any so I skipped it. The results are a denser, heavier dough since it doesn't have the chemistry inside to make it rise. I did the best I can and added a lot of baking powder not really knowing what it does. I-am-NOT-a-BAKER. I had tons of green onions left from the week that I decided to just mix in the dough for flavor.
- 3 Cups of flour (I did not pack, don't ask me why because I don't know)
- Maybe 2-3 tablespoons of sugar
- Big pinch of salt
- Big dash of baking soda
- If you have yeast, use it. 1-2 tablespoons (yeast highly recommended if you have it)
- Mince 3 whole green onions
- 1.2 Cups of warm water
I sifted the dry ingredients together and then poured in the water. Once it starts binding together, I would add the onions. I drizzled a little canola oil to form clumpy balls. I thin put my buns in the steaming basket with a parchment liner, and let it go for about 25 minutes, but it really depends on the size. If you have yeast, you would need to let it rest an hour or so to let it rise. By all means, this was made for cravings. There will be a honest recipe in the near future.
How am I going to eat this:
One of the reasons why I decided to make this was because I had left over Chinese BBQ from last night (see Chinese BBQ post here) and I was running low on rice. So I'm going to cut these buns open and stuff it with my BBQ. Served with some Chinese Jasmine Green Tea in my Gaiwan and I will be ONE HAPPY CHINESE CAMPER.
Remember, don't be intimidated to cook with what you have. I don't know how many people turned over in their graves... but it still worked out at the end (Not the best replication of this, but you can catch the drift). And who cares about the recipes. Don't let that stop you from making something, because now you know why certain things are to be asked in the ingredients, and why there are certain steps to follow. Going away from the recipe(s) make me understand food a lot better, and it makes me more adventurous to try and create other things.
It's all about Food Within Reach!