This vegan version of char siu bao, or Chinese roast pork buns, is so close to the original that you won't miss the meat or the dairy! Whether you're a vegetarian, vegan or omnivore, check out this vegan car siu bao recipe.
For the dough:
1cupwarm water(separated in two 1/2 cup or 118ml portions)
1teaspoonactive dry yeast
3cupsall purpose flour or bread flour(divided)
½teaspoonvital wheat gluten(can be eliminated if using bread flour)
Start by making the dough. Add ½ cup (118ml) warm water, 1 teaspoon active dry yeast and 1/3 cup (50g) flour to a large bowl, and mix well. Set aside in a warm place for 15 minutes until the mixture foams up.
Mix the coconut oil into the foamy yeast mixture until you can’t see any solids and then mix in the remaining 1/2 cup of warm water. Add the last 2 2/3 cups (370g) flour, vital wheat gluten, sugar, and salt. Mix in until a dough forms. Knead for 10 minutes. You can add some flour to make it easier to work with, but don't worry if it's a bit sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and let it proof for 1 hour.
While that's happening, make the filling. Heat your wok or cast iron pan over medium-high heat and add the oil, onions and tofu. Cook for 3-5 minutes until one side of the tofu is just browned. Turn the mixture over with a rubber spatula and brown the other side. Feel free to add more oil if the mixture looks a bit dry.
Add the soy sauces, sugar, salt, sesame oil, hoisin sauce, and white pepper. Stir everything together and then add the water/vegetable stock and flour. Stir gently so as not to break up the tofu chunks.
Let the mixture simmer until the liquid thickens into a sauce. It should thicken further as it cools. Set the mixture aside to cool completely before making the buns. If the mixture looks a little wet, you can put it in the fridge to solidify it for easier assembly.
Once the dough has proofed for an hour, turn it out onto a well-floured surface and knead for another 2-3 minutes to ensure most of the air bubbles are gone. Add just enough flour so you can knead it, but be careful not to dry out the dough. Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces and cover with a damp towel.
Roll out each dough ball into a disc, where the middle of the disc is a bit thicker than the sides. Put about 2 tablespoons of filling in the center and fold up the edges to close the bun. The dough is fairly elastic, so you can stretch it to cover the filling if needed. Check out our other char siu bao recipe for more photos on bun folding. Be sure to pinch it closed, and place it seam side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Keep all the dough balls and the finished buns covered with damp towels until they're all assembled. Let the buns sit for another 10 minutes while you preheat your oven to 375°F/190°C.
Mix together the sugar and warm water and brush the mixture onto the buns. Place the buns in the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 350°F/175°C. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden. Brush the buns with the remaining sugar water when they come out of the oven. Serve warm!
Tip: Store these buns in the refrigerator. When you're ready to eat one, heat it up in the microwave for 15-30 seconds.