Monday, 14 March 2011
WHO’S GOT BIG BUNS? NEW TOWN BAKERY
Big Bun Identification Guide. Above is a Pork and Veggie Bun: filling indicated by the circular red stamp on the top.
Ever buy a dozen of these of different varieties only to forget which bun has which filling once you arrived home? Don’t you just hate that?
I usually purchase a dozen freshly steamed buns, individually wrap them in plastic wrap and then put them in a freezer bag for quick lunches and snacks. Big buns are a meal in themselves. The New Town Bakery Steamed Big Buns are juicy and the fillings are yummy. A frozen bun requires a couple of minutes in the microwave. Sometimes this can dry out the bun, so I use a special “bun steamer” for my microwave.
I bought my bun-sized Microwave Steamers at Daiso and it of course was $2.00. You put a little water in the bottom half, place the frozen bun on the plastic rack and cover. It’s a nifty gadget if I don’t want to haul out my stovetop steamer. However, if I have time, the stovetop wok steamer beats all for moist texture. It just takes a heck of a long time to get the centre warmed. If I decide to steam in my wok, I usually nuke the frozen bun for a minute first to get the inside defrosted and finish up the heating up process in the steamer. It works well and the results are like bakery fresh.
This is the bottom half where you place a tablespoon or so of water…not too much!
Place the plastic rack on the bottom. It will elevate the bun above the water so you won’t have soggy buns!
Place the lid on top. There are little steam vents on the side you can adjust.
New Town Bakery’s Special “Big Bun/Dai Bau”: two red dots indicate this Dai Bau…it has Roast Pork, Salted Duck Egg and a ground pork & veggie mixture that is not unlike siu mai in texture. This bun has everything but the kitchen sink!
Cha Siu Bau/Barbeque Pork Bun: plain, unmarked swirl pattern with a pinched knot at top.
My daughters love sticky rice and the ones from this bakery are our favourites. We like the one with green mung beans. My kids are allergic to peanuts so we never buy those ones. There’s always a big fight over the little piece of Chinese Sausage so I solved that readily by cooking up a separate link of Chinese Sausage on the side. Everyone gets some sausage that way…and way more than what you’d find in these thrifty carb-loading, bamboo leaf wrapped dumplings. Actually, not too sure in what way they’re really dumplings other than the fact they’re wrapped in an inedible wrapping of bamboo leaves. Why don’t they call the sticky rice in Lotus Leaves dumplings? Hm? Is it because they’re boiled and the Lotus Leaves dumplings are steamed? ah well.
If you need to heat up a “Dzung/Joan/zongzi” then you need to boil it. This is how they’re initially cooked. The glutinous rice dumplings are so dense they require a long boil to cook. If you’re reheating already cooked dumplings, you still need a good 20-25 minutes of boiling (from refrigerator-cold) to heat it all the way through. I like to start mine in the microwave first to warm up the centre. If you have frozen them like I do, then you just need to nuke them first and then follow by cooking them longer in the boiling water.
After heating through, you cut the strings, unwrap and discard the bamboo leaves and eat…sometimes with some soy sauce. If you’re in our family, you cook up some extra Chinese Sausage to make everyone happy. This is stick-to-your-ribs sort of food. If you’re not crazy about rice or sticky rice, it’s not for you.
Usually, these are made for the Dragon Boat/Rice Dumpling Festival which falls on the 5th day of the 5th month of the lunar calendar, but you can find them all year round at New Town Bakery. Grandmas usually know how to make these too and the fillings vary depending on what part of Asia you are from. I like this version because it has no icky peanuts, and instead has green mung beans, salted pork belly, salted duck egg and Chinese Sausage. I imagine whatever filling your grandma put in the dumplings is probably what you would prefer.
If you find yourself at the Chinatown New Town Bakery, I recommend the little puffy Apple Tarts. They are light and delicious and remind me of the old Hong Kong Cafe that used to be across the street. They’re round, puffy, sprinkled with sugar on the tops and have hardly any apple filling but they are so addictive! I also like the deep fried donuts (salty or sweet) and the sugar-coated deep fried Choux puffs. They are the size and shape of a baseball and the insides are moist…kind of like a cruller.
Unless you want to relive the ‘70s, I would order for take-out if I were you.