Saturday, March 28, 2009

Baozi from scratch

My college roommate and good friend, Pamela, introduced me to baozi during one of the weekends when I went home with her (which was most weekends). We'd usually leave late on Friday night after the Christian fellowship we attended on CWRU's campus. Once we arrived at her Westlake home, we'd bypass the upstairs, "American kitchen" and head down to the basement "Chinese kitchen" for a second dinner.

Now I'm half Chinese-- but before undergrad, my main experience with Chinese food was Chicago's chinatowns and my Cantonese grandma's cooking-- the key gastronomic memories being various stir fried dishes, Cantonese bbq ribs (the most ginormous barbarian-sized ribs you've ever seen, crusted in a magenta sauce), fried smelt caught by my dad and uncles from Lake Michigan (we'd eat the whole fish, bones and all), and copious amounts of steamed white rice washed down with some off-brand of orange-aide or pop. Yes, I'm from the Midwest and we say "pop." But I've really gotten off topic.

Pamela is also half Chinese, but her relatives are from Taichung, Taiwan. Her mom, Vicki, is an excellent and inventive cook and there was always several dishes waiting in that basement kitchen. Maybe there'd be beef curry with potatoes and carrots, stew with tea eggs, marinated firm tofu or spicy squid. But one of my all-time favorites were the steamed, meat and veggie-filled buns or baozi.

Years later, when Joe and I moved to Taiwan, we had a dumpling and baozi shop below our apartment, but I never thought they were as good as the buns we ate in the Poland's basement kitchen. The last time I had Vicki's baozi was in August 2001, when I got married-- in the Poland's backyard. I don't know how many she made, but I seem to recall big bowls filled with them. I guess my mind was on a few other things, so the details are foggy :-)

I had a hankering for them again the last couple weeks. So I decided to make some.
Joe's telling me to go to bed (I haven't been sleeping much lately because of Stephen's new and very bad wake-every-hour-after-1-a.m. habit. So I'm gonna post the picture now and post the recipe tomorrow.

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