When I was a mother already, there was this aisle in SuperSale where I would get my beef asado siopao. They came in packs of 6, and must be chilled or frozen right away, and steamed to reheat/consumed. I liked its dough, but the filling was rather skimpy and had more starchy sauce than meat, although tasty.
Of course, since coming to the US, I have been experimenting. At first I made beef asado roll with the leftover beef pares and the Basic Egg Bread recipe. But that was baked. I had the theory that the same dough used for baking in the oven, when steamed, would give me siopao. The first how-to I found online was Sassy's post on pork asado siopao. (Update as of 3-7-2010: Latest siopao I have is pork siopao, which is sooo yummy! Check it out! Kids gobbled them up quickly!)
However, this time when I experimented, I made use of the dough for Parker House Rolls recipe, which has become one of my favorites, and I have made it my Master Dough for such things as pan de coco, pan de lemon, pan de sal, and anything where I use fillings. It is just so airy and light, and I like its taste. But you may want to consider other classic bread recipes featured in Breadworld.com, like Basic Egg Bread, Old-Fashioned Bread, etc.
What I used, of course, was the leftover from beef pares. I chopped it coarsely (not ground). I heated the excess sauce, seasoned it with sugar, soy sauce, salt, and pepper, then thickened with water-cornstarch mixture. Then I mixed the chopped beef, and chilled in the fridge until I was ready to use it. (Please see my siopao using leftover pork roast here.)
Than I prepared the dough using Parker House Rolls recipe as per intructions UP TO THE INITIAL RISING. The reasons why I like this dough, aside from those mentioned above, was that I could make this at night and refrigerate it for use in the morning or the next supper time. That means I can divide it in half (two birds with one stone), and it is suitable for get-togethers in that I only have to shape and bake them on the day of the party.
PARKER HOUSE ROLLS
Makes 36 Rolls
4-3/4 to 5-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 envelopes FLEISCHMANN'S RapidRise Yeast
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 large egg
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
In large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, sugar, undissolved yeast, and salt. Heat milk, water, and 1/4 cup butter until very warm (120o to 130oF). Stir into flour mixture. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Add egg and 1/2 cup flour; beat 2 minutes at high speed. Stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Cover;* let rest 10 minutes.
Divide dough in half; roll each half to 12-inch square, about 1/4-inch thick. Cut each into 6 (2 x 12-inch) strips. Cut each strip into 3 (4 x 2-inch) rectangles. Brush each rectangle with melted butter. Crease rectangles slightly off center with dull edge of knife and fold at crease. Arrange in rows, slightly overlapping, on greased baking sheets, with shorter side of each roll facing down. Allow 1/4-inch of space between each row. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
Bake at 400oF for 13 to 15 minutes or until done. Remove from sheets; cool on wire rack. Brush with remaining melted butter.
* If desired, allow dough to rise in refrigerator 12 to 24 hours.
Then I proceeded as depicted in the following slideshow:
Please note that it is entirely up to you what dough to use, be it using rice flour, or even using a biscuit dough recipe (like what my friend Ana does; it is time-saving!).
I used coffee filters instead of parchment/wax paper to line the underside of the buns. It was easier to fold several coffee filters into 1/4 size, then cut off the edges to come up with squares.
Before proceeding with the below procedures, start boiling the water in the steamer.
1. Prepare the dough and let rise for 10 minutes. (Note: For my rolls which I fill with something like siopao or pan de coco, I have found that handling and filling the dough is easier when it is cold. The same goes for the filling, especially for siopao and empanada. Do not try to fill the dough with lukewarm, runny filling. It will be frustrating.)
2. Cut the dough using a dough scraper/cutter into 2-inch wide logs, then cut further to make approximately 2x2 cubes. You may use your hand to just pinch off, as long as you don't squeeze them flat.
3. Lay them on a lightly greased baking sheet about 2 inches apart and let rise for further 10 minutes. Not only will this give you more airy buns later, but also allow for easier manipulation when filling them.
4. Using your hands, flatten each piece to about 1/4 inch thickness, thinnest at the sides.
5. Place about 1 heaping tbsp of the filling at the center.
6. Gather the edges and pinch together to seal. Place the dough on the paper with the seam under.
7. Arrange on the steamer pan about 1 inch apart. Cover and let rise 10 minutes.
8. Steam for 12 minutes. Prepare the next batch while waiting.
Notes: (1)I read in another blog to add vinegar to water to help make buns come out whiter. (2) It was advised to put clean dish towel (I used flour sack here) above the siopao doughs to prevent water condensing beneath the cover to drop onto the buns and make them soggy. (3) I tried to steam the first batch for 30 minutes with only a layer of flour sack under the cover, but I had a poor outcome as shown in the photo. Compare the wet bun on the left with the smooth and spongy bun on the right. So I also placed flour sack under the pan of buns, and those two covers gave me the smoothest spongy buns.
9. Cool for about 5 minutes then transfer to wire rack, then proceed with making the next batch.
10. You may eat this now, or let cool completely then place in freezer bags for future eating. (I covered with one coffee filter to help absorb moisture and lessen freezer burn). While I am not in a position to tell you how long it will last in the freezer, I am sure it won't reach one month before you (or family or friends) will consume them. When frozen, reheat for about 1 minute in the microwave. If it is just chilled in the fridge, reheat for 30 seconds.
I made some with chicken-mushroom filling (just shredded chicken mixed with cream of mushroom) because out of the 36 pieces, I had 10 more when I ran out of beef filling. My older son loved the beef, my younger preferred the chicken. Then I offered both types to my in-laws, and they loved the beef as well (It's their first time to try steamed buns). I had hubby try the beef, and he said (in his usual unenthusiastic way) it was good. Oh well, he really prefers plain yeast rolls, especially ones made with wheat.
Special thanks goes to my friend Ana for lending me her steamer (sa uulitin!).
If you do not have enough beef fillings for all the dough pieces, you may keep them refrigerated covered with cling wrap and then bake the next morning at 350 F for 12-15 minutes (depending on the size; watch out as it browns) to enjoy plain buns, or roll each piece first on a plate of breadcrumbs to have pandesal.
For those who want a recipe for siopao sauce, here's one shared to me by an online friend (and a good singer) Jen. I have not tried making this because my siopao does not usually need additional flavor; the filling is already tasty. So, if you feel like experimenting, here it is.
sio pao sauce
1 T oyster sauce
1 1/2 t dark soy sauce
2 t catsup
2 1/4 t white sugar
pinch of ground white pepper
2 1/4 t tapioca starch
5 T chicken broth
1 T vegetable or peanut oil
1/2 c dice onion
3/4 c thinly cut Barbecued Pork
1 1/2 t gin
1/2 t sesame oil
1. In small bowl, combine sauce ingredients and reserve.
2. Heat a wok and add oil. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add pork, gin, reserved sauce mixture and cook for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, until sauce thickens. Add the sesame oil and mix well. Turn off heat and transfer filling mixture to a shallow dish. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until ready to use.
TO BAKE SIOPAO instead of steaming:
Well, after I tried steaming in small batches, I thought it would be easier to bake them, which I have tried (although no pics of those here). Baking the siopao instead of steaming (though by definition, siopao is steamed) , you will come up with rolls which has meat filling instead (sort of like those sold in red ribbon if you shape them like triangles), almost like Hot Pockets. Just flatten them a bit to achieve a more browned look. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with melted butter right after baking. Refrigerate the leftovers (for the sake of the filling, as that cooked meat will spoil if left in room temp for a long time).