The inspiration for this spicy beef bao sandwich was a broccoli beef stir fry I made for dinner earlier this week. As usual, I made too much. The following night I experimented by serving the leftover beef on Kings Hawaiian rolls, topped with coleslaw. It was quite good, but I felt it could be better. So, the next day I made Asian stir fried beef again, minus the broccoli. This time, I served the beef on homemade steamed bao rolls, garnished with pickled vegetables, micro cilantro and Sriracha. Tender, spicy beef, tangy pickled radish, cucumber and carrot, all on a soft pillowy bao, straight from the steamer.
This sandwich was perfect for me with all the things I love; spice, heat, pickled stuff, and cilantro. Michael was happy with the meat and steamed bun. Since he doesn't like cilantro or pickled anything, and he can't handle as much heat like me, he kept it simple. I guess that would be the beauty of this sandwich. You can have it any way you like it, even finished with a dollop of Sriracha! Here are recipes and tips for the spicy stir fry beef and for the steamed buns.
- For the beef:
- 12 ounces flank steak (trimmed and cut into thin strips)
- 1 tablespoon ginger (peeled cut into matchsticks)
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 2 tsp soy sauce (plus 1 tablespoon)
- 2 tsp Shao Hsing rice wine or cooking sherry (plus 1 tablespoon)
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp sugar
- 2 tsp peanut or other vegetable oil (plus 2 tablespoons)
- 1 tbsp ketchup
- 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 2-3 tsp Sriracha sauce
- 3 cloves garlic (smashed)
- 2 each green onions (halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces)
- Cut the flank steak with the grain into 2 pieces. Then, cutting against the grain, slice into ¼ inch strips. Tip: If the steak is slightly frozen, not solid, it is easier to cut thinly. Use a good, sharp knife. Place the steak slices in a shallow bowl and add the ginger, cornstarch, 2 teaspoons of soy sauce, 2 teaspoons rice wine or cooking sherry, 1⁄4 teaspoon of the salt and sugar and mix well. Add 2 teaspoons oil and stir. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine the ketchup, hoisin sauce, Sriracha sauce, the remaining 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and 1 tablespoon rice wine.
- Heat a large, flat-bottomed wok over high heat. You know it is hot enough if a tiny drop of water vaporizes within 1 - 2 seconds of contact. Pour in 1 tablespoon of the oil and swirl the wok to distribute the oil. Add the garlic and stir-fry for 15 seconds or until fragrant. Remove the garlic and discard it. Carefully add the beef strips, spreading it evenly in one layer in the wok. Tip: Be careful not to add more than 12 ounces beef or the wok will cool down and your steak will steam instead of searing, and you will never get a good browning. Cook the beef without stirring until it begins to brown, about 1 minute. Using a metal spatula, stir-fry until beef is lightly browned, about 30 - 60 seconds. Swirl in the sauce mixture and stir-fry for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove the beef from the wok, but keep the wok on the stove to heat up the beef when ready to serve the sandwich.
- 1 ¼ cups whole milk
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 teaspoons instant yeast
- 3 teaspoons sugar
- 1 large egg (white only)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup cake flour ( or cornstarch if you do not have cake flour.)
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 1-4 tbs warm water
- Combine milk and butter in a saucepan and heat to 100 degrees F. If the milk is hotter than 100 degrees F let it cool before proceeding, so you don't kill the yeast. Pour the warm milk into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add yeast to the mixing bowl and stir briefly, just to dissolve the yeast.
- Add the sugar, egg white, flours, and salt to the mixing bowl. With the paddle attachment, mix the ingredients on medium-low speed until completely combined, about 2 minutes. At this point you may need to add the warm water if the dough is too dry and all of the flour has not absobed. Add the warm water, one tablespoon at a time until the flour absorbs. You should not need to add more than 4 tablespoons unless you packed the flour when measuring.
- Remove the paddle attachmentand put the hokk kook on. Knead the dough on low to medium speed for about five minutes. It should become smoother and pull away from the sides of the bowl. If you do not have a dough hook you can drop the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it by hand for ten minutes.
- After kneading by machine or by hand the dough should be tacky, but not overly sticky. You may need to add a little extra flour if the dough is too sticky to handle. Turn out dough and form it into a ball. place the ball in a large oiled bowl, flip over the ooil the opposite side. Cover with plastic wrap. Place in warm spot and let rise until doubled in size, about one to two hours.
- Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface. Using a kitchen scale, divide the dough into 2 oz pieces and form them into balls. Place the balls of dough back into the oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel. One at a time, remove the balls and roll them out flat with a rolling pin into an oval shape. Brush the tops of the dough lightly with oil and then fold in half. Place each bun on a small square of parchment paper. Arrange the buns on a large tray, loosely covered with plastic wrap.
- Allow the formed buns rise for another 15-20 minutes. During the second rise, prepare a wooden or metal steamer by filling the bottom portion with water. Arrange buns in the steamer so they are not touching, cover, and steam for 10 minutes. You may need to adjust the time depending on your particular steamer. Open one bun to test it. If the inside is still raw, steam for a little longer. If the top surfaces of the buns are wrinkled, then they have steamed for too long. Reduce the time for the next batch. Serve buns immediately or store in the refrigerator and briefly re-steam to serve. Fresh is best!