Bao. Enough said? Okay, maybe not. Maybe you haven’t had your bao initiation yet – if you’ve never heard of these pillowy, slightly sweet tiny loaves of ‘bread’, we wouldn’t be totally shocked. I had my first bao from a lettuce-entertain-you chain restaurant called Wow Bao – the Chinese version of the bao usually has a rich filling enclosed in the bao dough, then steamed off. They’re a delight, so you should definitely seek some out! You can even buy them frozen from a specialty foods store and cook them off in your rice cooker. While those are amazing, sandwich bao are even more fun because you can enjoy them as a group and cook up a lot of different toppings to enjoy in different combinations.
The thing is, they’re a bit of a project to tackle if you can’t pick some up from the store. To save time, check out an asian grocery store and buy them by the pack! If you’re entertaining, we can easily see you bringing out a plate of the bao buns, the fixings, and pairs of chopsticks for everyone. Have at it, friends!
Korean BBQ Mushroom Bao
- 8 pre-prepared Vietnamese Bao Buns (Báhn Bao)
- Quick Pickled Cucumbers, recipe below
- Sauteed Korean Portobello Mushrooms, recipe below
- Turnip Microgreens
- 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
- small palmful of toasted sesame seeds
Quick Pickled Cucumbers Ingredients:
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 oz. rice wine vinegar
- 2 T granulated sugar
- 1 T salt
- 1/2 persian cucumber, cut into batons.
Sauteed Korean Mushrooms Ingredients:
- 3 large portobello caps, cleaned and de-gilled
- 3 crushed cloves of garlic
- 1 T honey
- 1 T gochujang
- 1 T soy sauce (we used gluten free tamari)
- 1 T mirin
- 1 T sesame oil
- 1 T chili oil
Procedure: Start by making the pickled cucumbers. Arrange cucumber batons in a glass jar. Combine the juice of the lime, sugar, and salt in a small pot and set over medium heat. Once bubbling and the sugar has dissolved, pour hot liquid over the cucumber batons. Seal the jar and let it rest for at least 30 minutes – pickles will keep in the fridge for up to a month, so you can do this far in advance.
Then prepare your mushroom mixture. Clean up your portobello caps and slice them horizontally. Set a medium frying pan over medium heat, once hot, add your chili oil to the pan. Once sizzling, add the portobello mushrooms and cook until browned and the liquid has leeched out of the mushrooms. Add all other sauces (honey, gochujang, soy, mirin, and sesame) and continue cooking until sticky and caramelized.
Finally, assemble your bao. Follow the instructions for cooking the bao on your package – in our case, we spritzed ours with water and microwaved them until soft and pliable. After that, pile on a healthy dose of mushrooms, cucumbers, greens, scallions, and top with sesame seeds. Enjoy!