Monday, May 12, 2008

Mantou and baozi shīfu

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If you thought the cooking in my family was only done by my mom and my brother, I'd like ya'll to meet the mantou shīfu, aka my dad. My dad and I are really into bread, and I've grown up loving his steamed breads, both plain and meat/vegetable filled (I've mentioned them before here). Since they're steamed and not baked, they don't have much of a crust save for a thin outer skin; each is mainly fluffy dough.

Soft, springy, unfilled mantou sops up sauces perfectly, and are great with meat and fish dishes as an alternative to rice or noodles; the stuffed baozi make excellent breakfasts or snacks on their own. Several weekends ago I spent an afternoon with my dad, making several batches of each.
Okay, so we made a lot.
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Making baozi: rolling out the dough round, plopping filling in the middle, pinching the dough together in a series of pleats until the baozi is sealed.
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Rolling and cutting out the mantou.
Meat-filled baozi, freshly steamed!

I've wanted my dad's recipe for mantou for a long time now, and so as I helped him that afternoon I took some notes. Below is just a rough sketch of my dad's recipe, as he tends to improvise most of the time, figuring out what the recipe needs more by observation and feel. He also sometimes adds in oats or cornmeal or other grains, depending on his mood and what's in the pantry, so each batch tends to have a different character. But this is the basic idea...enjoy!


*This is roughly what my dad does, and I haven't tried this recipe on my own. Consider this more reference than anything else.

1 pack active dry yeast (1/4 oz)
1 1/3 cups lukewarm water
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 egg
5 cups all-purpose wheat flour or bread flour

Stir yeast into the lukewarm water and let sit for five minutes. Add oil, salt, sugar, and egg; stir well, and then incorporate the flour. This should create a soft dough.

Knead until smooth, and then let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 1 to 3 hours depending on the room temperature.

Roll the dough out into a log with a diameter of about 2.5 inches. Using a sharp knife, cut into 2 inch pieces (it should make around 20), and let rise again for at least 30 minutes.

Steam for 20-25 minutes, and then eat!

*For baozi, you can use the same recipe for dough as above. I don't have a recipe for the meat filling my dad used, but I assume anything you would use for dumplings would do.

For the full set of photos, click here.


  1. I came here via Tastespotting and I'm glad I did! My Mom makes an amazing steamed bao, but like your father improvises a lot, so its difficult to nail down the recipe. Thanks for taking notes. These look delicious!

  2. hey.. so i haven't had dinner yet and i'm going to bed cuz im too tired.
    i was checking my facebook and landed on your food pics and couldn't resist.. this is torture.. (salivating..)it looks really good.. im licking the screen.. seriously. i hate you.

  3. i've been hoping for a recipe of this somewhere because i love baozi but i don't know how to make them. cheers.

    you've got such a spread there. :)

  4. I'm definitely going to give these a shot at some point! My dad would be so tickled to think about me making them myself.

  5. Man I am so jealous. My dad couldn't heat one up by himself in a microwave correctly.

  6. mmmm, bao! wow, this is inspiring. I gotta try these sometime...

  7. Hi, I Googled for man tou recipe, and your blog came up. I just made them according to your recipe. I made it as plain mantou. I'd say that if you don't intend to have any filling, increase the sugar to 1-2 TBS of sugar. Next time I'd make with some sort of fillings. Thanks for sharing your dad's recipe.

  8. Jenny, I'm so glad you tried it! I actually haven't tested out the recipe myself, so it's good to know little tips like that. If you try it with a filling, definitely let me know how it turned out!

  9. Hey!
    So I found this when I was looking up bao and mantou for some strange reason and decided to give them a try tonight and my parents and I love them! I made bao with a pizza filling, cause I didn't feel like making veggies and I can't eat meat :) The recipe was perfect and I'm super happy with how they turned out. I hope to make several variations on them (maybe jam filled or custard...) sometime soon. Thank you so much for sharing!

  10. Jo, I'm happy the recipe worked well for you. It's nice to have several people testing it out, since I haven't even given it a shot on my own yet!

  11. Oh my god, please tell me how to make the meat filling.

    I've been experimenting with making Mantou for my wife and her parents (from Mainland China). I'm pretty decent at regular bread making.

    This is the third recipe I've experimented with and I took a cue from this recipe:

    I did the initial prep to really grow the yeast. I added a little more water and used 1/4 cup of sugar.

    One thing I haven't yet tried is filling it with meat. After seeing that photo of your dad's meat mixture, I think it should be called Orgasmic.jpg. Please post it :( It will complete me.

  12. Sorry Scott, I don't have a recipe for the meat filling at the moment! But I'll be sure to post it when I get my hands on one.

  13. I've seen a lot of mantou recipes without the egg. What are some differences between mantou w/ or w/ out egg??

  14. hi! i've seen a lot of mantou recipes without the egg. Would you know some of the differences between mantou w/ or w/ out egg???

  15. I don't know, actually. But maybe someone here can chime in?

  16. thank you for the recipe!!!!! turn out really well, I just made it and my husband and my little girl is loving it:)