My favorite steamed Chinese bun is one of the simplest. After proofing a fairly standard, slightly sweetened yeast dough, I massage in a tiny bit of baking powder, which seems to affect elasticity. I roll out the dough as thin as practical, then rub in a liberal amount of roasted sesame seed oil. After that, I usually add nothing more than scallions, but occasionally I add some chili flakes or some sesame seeds according to my whim.
I roll up this sheet tightly, then take a dough cutter to create 1.5”-2” wide sections. I use chopsticks to smash the end of the spiral into the bun, causing the bun to expand out into a flower-like shape. The buns need to be steamed for just about 15 minutes.
Hua Juan: Steamed Flower Rolls
Yuba and vegetable soup with kikurage
Alas, because I never progressed very far when studying Chinese, I only know the Japanese names for most of the ingredients in this Chinese-style soup. Although essentially a simple soup, I used a lot of different vegetables, including onions, celery, garlic, sichuan ja tsai (zasai) pickles, snow cabbage pickles, carrots, napa cabbage, carrots, chilies, and, perhaps atypically, some turnips, and some shungiku (chrysanthemum leaves).
I incorporated some rehydrated yuba (soy milk skins), and dried “tree jellyfish” mushrooms (kikurage in Japanese) some pressed, slightly dried Chinese style tofu.
In order to add an earthy nuance, I seasoned this soup with a moderate amount of sesame oil. I also incorporated a fair amount of black vinegar and, of course, soy sauce and salt. To thicken the soup slightly, I relied on a bit of katakuriko dissolved in liquid.
Dinner is served.