Recipe by Chase Pierce

I lived in Beijing for three years and gorged myself on every manner of baozi available. I am also an American who, by national duty, must constantly find new ways to eat a burger. The culmination of all this has turned into the bao-ger.

These are good for any occasion, be it as an hors d’oeuvre or a main course served with hand-cut fries and vegetables. Put something unconventional on that table to impress the extended family you talk to once or twice a year. But, before you can even think about how this will one-up your aunt’s potato salad, we gotta get cooking.

 

Yield: 12-14 sliders 

Prep time: 1.5 hours

Total time: 3 hours (trust me, it’s worth it)

 

Ingredients for the Bao dough

All recipes for bao buns are essentially the same. The only real difference is how much you’d like to yield and how sweet you’d like the buns to be. 

  • All purpose bleached flour | 2 ½ cups, keep the bag close, you’ll need more for kneading

  • Baking Yeast | 1 tbsp., I used “Fleischmann’s active dry yeast”

  • Baking Powder | ½ tsp

  • Sugar | 2 tbsps., add a little less if you don’t want your bao buns too sweet

  • Salt| ½ tsp

  • Warm Water | 2/3 Cup

  • Canola or Vegetable Oil (dealers choice) | 1.5 Tbsp. 

Directions

  • Combine warm water, active yeast, sugar and oil into a cup. Mix well and let set for 5-10 minutes so everything dissolves. 

  • While waiting for that concoction to dissolve, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt to a mixer. If you’re like me, I prefer to use a bowl and mix all by hand. 

  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and begin to mix. If going by hand, use a fork until everything begins to stick, from there, use your hands. Mix until you have a smooth ball that doesn’t stick to the bowl, or to you. (Pro tip: pour a little cooking oil onto your hands before mixing, this will prevent large clumps of the dough from getting stuck to you and just generally cause you less strife).

  • Cover your bowl of soon to be bao and let it rest at room temperature for 2 hours or until it doubles in size. (This will give you a chance to get prep for the burger portion of the bao-ger: see directions below).

  • Take the dough out of the bowl and get to work flattening it until the dough is around ¼ inch thick. If you don’t have a ruler on stand bye, ¼ inch is about the thickness of your pinky finger. (You shouldn’t need any flour to kneed, but if so, use a very small amount, you want these to be soft and pillowy and too much flour will dry them out).

  • Cut the dough into 3-inch circles, I used the lid of a 2 lb Yoplait container, but find anything that’s around that size. 

  • Brush one side with cooking oil, fold and press gently.

  • Put as many bao’s that can fit in your steamer and cover for about 10 minutes and repeat. (Pro Tip: If you don’t have a steamer, ball up three sheets of aluminum foil and place in a deep skillet, pour some water and place your bao’s on a heat-proof plate and cover for 10 minutes).

Ingredients for the burger

This is where you can get real creative. I’m just giving you my recipe as a burger purist. 

  • Lean Ground Beef | 1 lb. 

  • Garlic | 3-4 cloves chopped finely and divide in half, but really it’s up to you, if you love garlic, than add more, live your life. 

  • Egg | 1 for binding, this is optional, but will help keep juices and have a less crumbly end product

  • Breadcrumbs | 2 tbsps. Also optional, but will give a better crust to your patty

  • Salt and Pepper| 1 tsp of each, but add more to taste

  • Cheese | 4-5 slices of American or cheddar, divide each in in halves or fourths, remember these are sliders

  • Daikon | half of 1, in julienne or batonnet cuts (thin sticks)

  • Cucumber | half of 1, in julienne or batonnet cuts (thin sticks)

  • Hoisin Sauce | 2 tbsps. I used the Lee Kum Kee brand.  

Directions

  1. Combine the ground beef, half of the chopped garlic, salt, pepper, breadcrumbs and egg into a bowl and mix well. Don’t be afraid to get those hands dirty.

  2. Roll the meat into 14 or so individual golf ball sized portions.

  3. Place the patties in a pan or grill at medium heat.

  4. Once cooked on one side, flip and place your choice of cheese on top. 

  5. While that’s going on, put the other half of the garlic into your hoisin sauce and give it a good mix. 

  6. Once all your patties have been cooked and cheesed, it’ll be time to build your bao-ger. Open one of your freshly made bao buns and swiped the inside with your hoisin garlic sauce. Slide the burger in and add 2 or 3 daikon and cucumber batonnets.

  7. After that, enjoy. I highly doubt you’ll need me for the next part. 

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