A vegetarian version of your favourite Dim Sum dish. Steamed buns are ubiquitous in Chinese cookery, and are eaten at all times of the day from breakfast to dinner, and often as afternoon snacks.
In a saucepan or the microwave oven, bring the milk and half of the water up to room temperature. The liquid needs to be tepid, not hot. Sprinkle with the dried yeast, and set aside while the yeast gets rehydrated.
In a mixing bowl, mix the plain flour with the caster sugar. Form a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, pour the milk mix and the oil. Mix together until you obtain a soft and sticky dough: if the dough is too stiff, add the remaining water by the spoonful, until the dough becomes soft and manageable.
Tip out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead for about 10 minutes, or until it feels less sticky.
Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a damp cloth or cling film, and leave to prove in a warm place until nearly doubled in size.
While the dough is proving, cut out 5*5cm squares of baking parchment, and prepare the filling.
When the dough has risen, knock it back and divide into 6 equal parts, and form into balls. Full sized buns are normally weighted at 100g, while smaller buns should be about 50-75g.
On a floured bench, roll out each ball into a disk about 5mm thick. Fill with about 2 tablespoons of filling (for larger buns), pinch the edge close.
Place each filled bun on a square of oiled baking paper seam side up , and into a steamer.
Leave to steam for 25 minutes, check after 10 minutes to ensure that there is still water in the bottom pot.
Peel and finely chop the ginger.
Wash and dry the bok choi and Chinese chives.
Remove the leafy part of the cabbage, and shred.
Finely chop the chives, and add to the bok choi greens.
Dice the bok choi ribs, and set aside.
Heat the oil in a wok. Stir fry the cabbage ribs, along with the Chinese five spice and ginger.
After about a minute, add the sliced leaf, chives and soy sauce. Stir until the greens have wilted, and transfer to a cold tray. Set aside until needed.
If you cannot find Chinese chives, substitute with regular chives.
You can fill the buns with anything you like, including left-overs from roast dinner, or even sweet ingredients, such as chocolate or custard.
If you are cooking several types of filling at the same time, fold the buns in different manners to distinguish the fillings. You can also mark the buns with a spice mix to reflect the filling inside.
«If you are unsure about proving dough, pinch off a ball of dough, and place in a glass of room temperature water: when it floats up to the surface, your dough is ready. Repeat at each proving stage for perfect timing.»