September 14, 2010

Seitan Bao

Bao are (typically) steamed and (usually) savory pastries.  You find them served with other dim sum treats, or as to-go food from Asian markets.  You can also find them frozen.  My grandparents used to bring packets full of perfect, round teriyaki-filled bao.  They would cut open the ten-times-taped cooler and unearth their gifts from Hawaii: bouquets of orchids from their yard, lau lau, leis, sometimes poi.

I think a lot of vegans try to pretend that they don't remember the meaningful moments they had before they stopped eating animal products (and most vegans aren't lifelong, so they do have memories of "preganity").  It is delusional to think that the family meals and treats from grandpa were shameful and cruel or that "missing" those memories of spending time with family is somehow a betrayal of principle.  I think it is okay to miss those things.  I miss raving about my grandma's ultra-amazing teriyaki.  I miss Christmas cookies.  I miss not having to make everything myself, getting to share.  My family puts a lot of effort and love into their food; I know it hurts them when I reject their slabs of meat - and I know that I can't control what they feel.  I know it offends them when I "veganize" recipes.

I'm not trying to recreate family recipes and memories by making old favorites into vegan versions.  I'm just trying new things.  I want to make things that I can share with my omnivorous family...  I wish they would see that I'm not trying to convert them or threaten them.  It would be nice to have everything normalized someday...   Does anyone else have trouble with their omnivorous families?  What do you do to normalize things with your family?  I hate having them step on eggshells, so to speak :P

Now, a recipe.

Seitan Bao, dough based on this recipe from the LA Times

1.5 t rapid / instant yeast
3/4 c lukewarm water
2 T canola oil
2 T sugar
2 t baking powder
2 T nutritional yeast
3 c flour

1.5 c chopped or ground seitan (should be finely chopped)
3 T soy sauce
1/2 T agave
1 T sesame oil
1 t garlic salt
1/4 t ground ginger

Soften yeast in the water, then add oil, sugar, and nutritional yeast.  Sift in the baking powder and flour.  Knead until elastic, not sticky, adding extra flour if necessary.  Let rise 30-45 minutes.

While the dough is rising, make the filling: combine the soy sauce, agave, oil, salt, and ginger in a small bowl.  Add the chopped seitan and toss until seitan is coated.

When dough is done rising, punch down and then divide into 12-16 balls.  Knead balls into rounds - these should be about the same diameter as your palm, and the edges should be thicker than the center.  Place seitan in the dough, then wrap and crimp around it.  I don't have the technique down on this yet, but when I do, I'll post with pictures :P  Cut out squares of parchment paper and then put the balls on them.  Let rise for 20 minutes.

Heat up a steamer (or do like I did and use a colander, a pot, and a lid).  After their second rise, place the bao in the steamer (with a bit of space between them as they will puff out a bit).  Steam for 15 minutes.


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