Food: Wheat nostalgia (2): steamed buns

STEAMED BUNS. I miss them. I crave them.

I haven’t had the little ones in many years, but the thought of them earlier today has me daydreaming about them. I spent too much time searching on the internet for a place that makes a gluten free version, and came up short.

The ones I like best are filled with stewed spinach or mustard greens (or both!). Yes, there are some good mushroom buns, but the ones with greens have such a fresh edge to them. There are larger ones sold in restaurants, but they are often strangely bland, and have too much dough relative to the filling (for structural reasons?).

I like them with a side sauce of Vietnam-style chili garlic paste mixed with soy sauce and just a little rice vinegar. Spicy, salty, and sour. A little sauce goes far on the absorbent buns.

I last ate them regularly more than a decade ago. I found a brand from China that was available frozen in a favorite local Chinese specialty market. (It was also my source for fresh lychees!) They were a great food to bring to pot lucks, as a few minutes in the microwave and a jar of home-mixed sauce would always get rave reviews. They were a great snack, too, and there were three vegan flavors I could get. (The vegan part is why I rarely got them in restaurants – most don’t bother with veggie versions.)

The internet is suggesting that I’ll need to make them from scratch if I want them, and that I’ll need many ingredients I don’t usually have on hand to do it (rice flour, tapioca flour, yeast, agave sugar(?)…), but the great thing about them was that someone else made them, and made many of them!

I miss you, spinach-stuffed steamed buns!

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