A new year, a new beginning. While the latter half of 2016 may have ushered in several unpleasantries, I can’t deny that I have been blessed with many wonderful opportunities this year. First and foremost, I finally moved back to New York City (and convinced a nice Midwestern boy to tag along)! As you may have surmised, I am living the foodie’s dream come true! From three star Michelin restaurants to late night dollar pizza, anything I could dream of eating can be found here.
Unfortunately, I have distanced myself from my usual cooking adventures by spoiling myself with thousands of amazing restaurants all over the city. But fear not! Nothing like the combo of a chilly winter and depleted bank account to bring me right back into the kitchen. In my absence, I discovered that even my most treasured hobbies can accumulate dust in my mental calendar. And the longer these pastimes go unparticipated, the harder it becomes to reengage in them. And the harder things become to do, the easier the excuses come. I lost efficiency in a craft that was once second nature to me, making time a new barrier to entry, a barrier that kept multiplying the longer I went unpracticed. For me, I knew the best way for me to ease back into cooking was to reidentify what first drew me to the kitchen. Like many journeys of self-revelation, the answer starts with home.
If I could encapsulate one aroma that embodies home for me, I would easily choose the smell of fresh steamed bánh bao. Interestingly, although it has always been one of my favorite Vietnamese treats, we didn’t have it very often growing up; these were reserved for special birthdays and occasional pit stops in Chinatown. Now, whenever I return home for the holidays, I reliably wake up to the scent of fresh buns and Vietnamese coffee for breakfast. I suppose it’s my mother’s way of signifying that my homecoming is a special occasion – and what else could feel more like home than that.
So as we move forward in ringing in a new year, let us first take a step back to retrieve what we thought was lost and revive our passions with the hope and promise that arrives with the first stroke of midnight.
For those of you whose New Year’s resolutions involve baos, baos, all types of baos, see instructions below.
- 2 cups self rising flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 12 pieces of wax or parchment paper, cut into 3" x 3" squares
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1 yellow or white onion, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp black pepper
- 2 tsp salt
- 3 boiled eggs, quartered
- 3 Chinese sausage links, thinly sliced.
- Mix together self rising flour, milk, sugar, and vegetable oil. Cover with a damp cheese cloth or towel for 30 minutes until dough has risen.
- While dough is rising, mix together ground beef, chopped onions, sugar, black pepper, and salt. Roll into meatballs approximately 2 inches in diameter. Place a quarter of a hardboiled egg into the meatball and cover with sliced Chinese sausage.
- Once dough has about doubled in size, knead dough and divide into 12 equal parts. Roll each part into a ball and flatten to create a circle about 4 inches. Put meat filling in the center and fold the dough over filling, gathering and twisting at the top.
- Place bao over parchment paper square and steam for 15-20 minutes.