Baos: Chinese cuisine is incredibly diverse, it has a universal appeal and that’s why most of the traditional Chinese dishes are famous with the western population. One of the delicacies of Chinese cuisine is a “bao”, it is a bun that’s suitable for a variety of fillings. The smooth white surface of the bao is one that stands out, up-close is the fluffy, warm, white dough that has an appetizing look.
This dish is one that has not been appreciated enough, this simple yet complex meal is perfect for breakfast, as a snack or even for main meals like lunch or dinner.
The bread used as the base of the bao bun is called “Mantou”, it’s a basic dough comprising of all the usual ingredients like yeast, milk, oil, etc. It is made in a steamer, so unlike conventional breads, it doesn’t need an oven to exist. History suggests that it was invented by an army general called Zhuge Liang. He was asked to sever the heads of 50 of his soldiers in exchange of crossing a treacherous river.
However, in place of soldier heads, he made use of large, steamed buns and floated them across. Pretty genius! At the time, these little bad boy buns were a perfect meal for the soldiers, filled with carbohydrates it gave the military men a quick refuel. Who wouldn’t love to have hot and puffy, pillowy smooth slightly glossy bao buns with your favourite fillings inside!
Over time people put their own spins on the classic mantou, experimenting with stuffing and taste. That’s the great thing about Chinese food, specifically a bao, it fuses traditional roots with newer styles that suit part of the local culture. The fillings range from savory meats, sweet custards, curries and even chocolate, to suit a range of people from all age groups from around the world. Aside from taste, it is a convenient portable meal, you can have it with your hands and finish it within three dainty bites.
The baos are versatile, and that’s why you must have it every now and then! MamaLan makes the most authentic baos at their restaurants in London. Their baos come in three different varieties, Mama Chicken Bao, the baos are stuffed with tender chicken breast, their chilli sesame gives it a bit of a kick and spice. Prawns Bao have prawns crusted with garlic and chili and if you prefer vegan food then go for their five spiced Tofu Bao