Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Red Bean Pau...and the time I had colourful pigs in my steamer.

God it's been such a long week... or rather it just felt really long. Just handed in an essay earlier today and heaved a huge sigh of relief. Honestly, if I had it my way I would just cook my way through university. Can just imagine it... getting my lecturers around my kitchen table and feeding them till they agree to give me my degree.
BAH! I wish.
Still... a girl can dream... And anyways, just because I haven't been posting doesn't mean I haven't been cooking. OOoooooooohhhh no no no no. Hell, I threw a dinner party (well...ish. I had to ask my guests to bring their own cutlery. BUT STILL!) on Sunday while I should have been writing my essay...
Anyways, enough of the worky nonsense. Just rest assured that I have quite a few posts planned for here. Starting with these! Aren't they adorable??

Over the summer I discovered dim sum for the first time, And one of the first things I tried were red bean buns. In both the places I had them, they were shaped like cute little pigs! After being here for about a month, I started craving them for breakfast one day and to the amusement of my flatmates I started to make them. COMPLETELY from scratch. Including the red bean paste. To be frank though, while the process was time consuming it wasn't actually too hard to put everything together. If you're planning to make the paste, just give yourself an extra day to let the red beans soak before you plan to eat these. They were pretty good, if I do say so myself. :p Although, I would've liked the red bean filling to be a little smoother...maybe I'll borrow someone's blender next time instead of using my food processor. That, and I have a feeling I steamed them a wee bit too long, so they were a little tough. But my flatmates assured me that the bread was nice and soft, so I'm probably worrying for nothing. I did re-steam them in the morning for brekkie though, and they turned into tough little bullets. XS Not nice, at ALL. Other than that, I'm very very proud of these. You should definitely give them a go!

Red Bean Piggy Buns

Unless you're planning on using a pre-prepared filling (nutella would be really yummy...albeit not very traditional), start by making that first. I used a easy recipe I found online. The only things I did differently were to reduce the oil measurement while frying the paste to make it a little healthier, and add a pandan leaf to the pan with the bean mixture for an added aroma.

Recipe originally from here:
NOTE: Remember, you need an extra day before making the buns to soak the beans before cooking them.


  • 2/3 cup dried red beans
  • Water for boiling
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup oil for frying


Wash the beans and throw out any that are damaged. Place the beans in a small to medium-sized saucepan, cover with water and soak overnight. (This helps shorten the cooking time).
  The next day, bring the beans and water to a boil. Simmer for 1 1/2 - 2 hours, until the beans have softened, adding more water as necessary. Drain.
  Process the beans in a blender until smooth. Remove from the blender, and stir in the sugar.
  Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan. Fry the beans on medium-low heat (about 4 on an electric stove) for a few minutes until they are dry, pressing them gently with the back of a spatula to form a paste. Cool and use as called for in the recipe. (Stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator, homemade sweet red bean paste will last for approximately one week). Yields approximately 1 3/4 cups.
+ When cool, divide the paste into 15 little balls. Set aside.
For the dough, I used this recipe from blogger Happy Belly. She's a fellow St. Andrews student, a friend of my academic mum's, and absolutely fabulous. I haven't quite gotten the courage to tell her I love her blog...fingers crossed she find this and all will be revealed without me having to do anything. :p I used a little less than the 150ml of water she specifies. Also, I used 7g of yeast (because that's the amount that came in the sachet) and a teaspoon of caster sugar just to make the dough slightly sweeter.
200g plain flour
5g active dry yeast
150ml warm water

Disolve the yeast in a bit of  the water, pour it over the flour. Mix, then slowly add the rest of the water until it comes together to form a dough. 150ml may not be correct, just make sure it's a very soft dough that doesn't stick to your hands. Knead for a couple of minutes until smooth, put in an oiled bowl, cover with a damp towel and leave it to rest for about an hour.  

Divide the dough into equal portions ( I made 16 balls of dough). You can either form into balls and have them as bread or you can flatten them and put in a scoop of a filling of your choice, then enclose it completely and roll into balls.  Pour cold water in a pot and place your steamer on top.  Line the bottom with an oiled greaseproof paper and place your buns on it.  Make sure you don't put them too close to each other.  Cover with a towel and let it rest again for about 10 minutes before removing the towel, replacing it with a lid, and turning the heat up to high.  When the water starts boiling, turn the heat down to medium and steam for a further 10-15 minutes until done. 

+ After rolling all the buns with filling in them, colour the extra ball of dough using the food colouring of your choice and mould some ears and noses to attatch to each bun. Dip a toothpick into food colouring and poke into the bun to make marks for the eyes.

Voila! Ok, it's a pretty long post. But I PROMISE, these are actually not hard at all to make. All you need is a little patience. Good luck!

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