Thursday 20 August 2015

Liu Sha Bao/Salted Egg Yolk Custard Bun 黃金流沙包

My husband absolutely love this. We used to go to Puchong to eat dim sum just for this bao.

For those who do not know what this is, let me give you a quick introduction. Its uniqueness stemmed from its oozing creamy filling in the middle of the bao not unlike that of a molten lava cake. I call it an oriental molten lava bun. This dish is relatively new in the dim sum family. It is normally served hot in order for the filling to remain runny.

So what is the criteria of a good salted egg yolk custard bun? The custard needs to be runny of course, else it wouldn't be called liu sha (oozing sand). Then we need the custard to be smooth. Yes, many a times I experienced lumpy custards (but still runny) in those half-past-six dim sum shops. Really a put off. But most of all, the custard must have the perfect taste combination - not too sweet, a hint of saltiness to balance off the sweetness, and finally that buttery and creamy aroma to make this dish complete. Am I asking too much? I probably am because it took me quite a while to nail this brief.

I used a recipe I found in Youtube (which I am not mentioning the name) and I changed it so much it isn't original anymore. The first time trying turned into a disaster. I did not like the extremely buttery smell. The fire was too big and it caused all the filling to ooze out. I improvised by using half butter and half margerine. Use butter if you have to, this is personal really. In the second attempt, filling was still lumpy and it still leaked. Not about to give up, I finally got it right on the fourth try. Just what I wanted in a salted egg yolk custard bun. I have to tell this to you straight, nailing that brief is not easy so be prepared if you want that restaurant quality liu sha bao. There is a reason why those dim sum sifus are so well paid.

I used the same basic bao skin recipe that I have learnt to love. It is only the filling that I am having trouble as there are many versions, all with different ingredients and portions. I eliminated those that used flour as it would become more of a lumpy consistency.

Now, this is unauthodox but I do have a cheat sheet suggestion in case you are not confident with the taste and you want to minimise wastage. Once you have done all the steps to make this filling, take a small ball/portion and steam it in slow fire until it becomes runny. Dip a piece of white bread to see if you like what you are tasting. If you don't, make adjustments. This way you can see if you like the texture and taste before you move on to the next stage.

Pointers to make this successful:
1. Wrap the filling evenly making sure it is sealed properly.
2. Do not oversteam
3. Do not be greedy and put too much filling
4. Serve bao hot in order to get the oozing filling

Liu Sha Bao/Salted Egg Yolk Custard Bun 黃金流沙包

Makes 17 small baos


1 portion pumpkin bao dough
17 square baking paper/small cupcake liners

Custard filling

70 g castor sugar
65 custard powder
55 milk powder
100 g butter, room temperature
3 salted egg yolk (approx 50 g), steamed and mashed
2 tbsp evaporated milk

Cooking Instruction

1. Prepare the bao dough. For preparation of the pumpkin bao dough, click here. If you like your bao plain click here. (I prefer the pumpkin dough as it gives a nice yellow colour and covers up uneven tone). In the recipe the bao dough is prepared one day in advance and put into the fridge for fermentation. It would taste nicer, like those bought outside. If you do not have the time nor patience, set it aside to ferment for 1-2 hours until it is at least double in size. Then proceed as usual.

2. For custard filling, mix castor sugar, custard powder and milk powder in a large mixing bowl and stir until well combined. Add in butter and evaporated milk and mix until it becomes a paste. Lastly, add in mashed salted egg yolks and mix thoroughly. Put filling into freezer for 1 minutes for it to firm up.

3. Remove custard from freezer and weigh 22 g each. Roll into a ball. Repeat until finish. If custard starts to become sticky, put it into the freezer for 2 minutes and continue. Put custard balls into freezer until needed.

Note: Recommended to use individual moulds for better steam circulation
4. When the bao dough is ready, weigh 32 g of dough and roll it into a ball. Remove filling from freezer. Take a piece of dough and flatten the dough into a flat disk with the outer sides thinner than the middle. Put a custard ball onto the dough and start sealing by taking the sides and pressing it together. Make sure the sides are well sealed so that the custard would not leak out later. Put on a piece of baking paper once finish. I highly recommend the dough to be put into individual round moulds as it would give it a better shape when steamed. Continue until all are done.

5. Set baos aside for proofing for 30 - 45 mins or until the bao almost doubles in size.

6. Boil water in steamer and put baos in once it is ready. Steam on medium heat for 8-10 minutes. At 6 minutes, open the cover just a little to let out excess steam. Be careful not to let water drip onto the baos. After steam is released, continue to steam until ready. Serve hot.

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