This is my friend Mr Pork Bun. I’m guessing that’s not his real name (although given the variety of ‘English’ Chinese names I’ve encountered – Fancy, Echo, Green Leaf, – Pork Bun is not that far-fetched) but that’s how I think of him. He is a champion steamed bun maker and he has very plump hands and a face that reminds me of the soft doughy baozi themselves.
Bāozi 包子 are surprisingly easy to make at home – the dough is a simple mixture of flour, water, yeast and a little sugar, and the filling is as diverse as you’d like to make it – fragrant pork mince, a delicious savoury tofu and green herb combination, red bean paste (possibly not to everyone’s taste), and custard (definitely not to everyone’s taste). Red pork buns, char siu bao, beloved of every Australian child I know, are Cantonese and
therefore not as easily available in Shanghai. This has been a major disappointment for some of our smaller visitors, until they taste the Shanghainese pork bun – it is less sweet, juicier and more meaty than it’s Cantonese counterpart.
As Mr Pork Bun lifts the lid of the steamer clouds of billowing steam envelop him temporarily. His hand reaches through the steam with the tongs and plucks the plump bun off the bamboo tray, and into a handy bag. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love a steamed pork bun, I mean, what’s not to love? Thank you Mr Pork Bun, see you next week!
For more on street foods in Shanghai, click on any of the links below. Deliciousness guaranteed. I’m working my way through all of Shanghai’s street foods, one by one. This is Number 6 in the Shanghai Street Food series. Enjoy tasting them all!
Number 3 Liangpi – a spicy cold noodle dish
Number 4 Langzhou Lamian – hand-pulled noodles
Number 5 Cong You Bing – fried shallot pancakes
Number 6 Baozi – steamed buns, Shanghai style
Number 7 Jian Bing – the famous egg pancake
Number 14 Bao Mi Hua – exploding rice flowers
Number 16 Bing Tang Shan Zha – crystal sugar hawthorns
Number 21 Suzhou Shi Yue Bing – homestyle mooncakes
Number 22 Gui Hua Lian’ou – honeyed lotus root stuffed with sticky rice
Number 23 Cong You Ban Mian – scallion oil noodles
Number 25 Nuomi Cai Tou – fried clover pancakes
Number 26 Da Bing, Shao Bing – sesame breakfast pastries
Number 27 Ci Fan – sticky rice breakfast balls
Number 28 Gui Hua Gao – steamed osmanthus cake
Number 29 Zongzi – bamboo leaf wrapped sticky rice