Char Siu haggis + plum bao
I've noticed that a couple of people are asking for more music recommendations, like I did on my old blog - here's a little playlist of some of my favourites over the last couple of months, and I'll work on some proper ones for the future. Let me know what you think! Listen here
Last year, to introduce my sister (and others) to the joy that is haggis, we held a Burns Night cocktail party with various haggis-based hors d’oeuvres and whisky cocktails (whisky + prosecco = some kind of Scottish Royale, I’m sure).
It coincided with the Chinese New Year so I made lots of Char Siu Bao at the time, filled with both pork and black pudding, for a Scottish twist. They were delicious, and even more delicious when reheated the next day and snuck into the cinema as a very upmarket film snack (the woman sat next to us was VERY jealous). I also made an extremely boozy whisky, chocolate and raspberry oat tart with honey ice cream for another Burns Supper which was so strong I think it put you over the limit and I was known as 'the one who made the tart' until at least 8 months later.
This year, I’m upping the ante. No whisky cocktails, but I’m going full haggis in the bao, all of the offal for all of the fun.
You can can shape these in the traditional way, with slits cut in the top that expand with the steam, but I like the look of a sealed bun, and it makes it easier to paint your own symbol on the top with food colouring.
Ive edited the dough recipe somewhat since I took the photos, as it seemed to overproof too quickly from the large quantity of yeast and then collapsed after steaming. This recipe produces beautifully taut buns (yes that’s a deliberate innuendo).
Makes about 24, feel free to scale down or they do freeze very well and you can steam them again from frozen
For the haggis mix
5 plums, peeled and chopped
1/2 medium white onion, finely chopped
450g/ one regular sized haggis
3-4 tbsp oyster sauce
3-4 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
Up to 240ml (1 cup) chicken stock
1 tbsp cornflour
Salt and pepper to taste
For the bao (adapted from Kat Craddock at Saveur)
1/2 tsp active dried yeast
12 oz (2 1/4 cups) plain flour
4 oz (3/4 cup) cornflour
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
- Start by cooking the haggis according to instructions on the packet - I tend to microwave it in a covered bowl because I’m lazy. After it’s cooked, let it cool and break down any big pieces.
- In a sauté pan, add half the chopped plums and 1 tbsp of water. Put a lid over the pan and cook over a medium heat, until the fruit has broken down into a purée - you may have to add extra water.
- Remove the purée and set aside. Now cook the onion in a little bit of oil until softened, then add the cornflour and cook for a further minute, mixing thoroughly. Add the chicken stock bit by bit, reserving a couple of tablespoons to adjust for the final texture.
- Now add the oyster sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil and sugar, and then add the haggis and the plum purée. Cook over medium heat for 4-5 mins until it’s all warmed though and amalgamated.
- Taste it and adjust seasoning. The texture should be like a thick purée (gross I know, haggis doesn’t have the best texture generally) and you should be able to form a mound with a tablespoon that holds its shape. Let it cool before filling the buns.
- In a stand mixer bowl, combine the yeast with 480ml (2 cups) warm water and leave for 10 mins to foam slightly.
- In a separate bowl, mix the flour, cornflour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Add this dry mix to the yeast along with the oil.
- Mix on low speed with a dough hook until it comes together, then mix on medium until it forms a shiny smooth springy dough (about 8-10 mins). Let this rest, covered, for 10 mins.
- Portion the dough into 24 pieces and work with one piece at a time, leaving the others in a covered bowl.
- Roll or press out the dough until you get a circle about 7-8cm and thin the edges out slightly. With the dough in the palm of your hand, place a large heaped tbsp of haggis mix in the centre, and add about a tsp of chopped plum.
- Seal the bao by initially bringing together two adjacent points of the circumference, then make folds all around, bringing each fold into the original fold (look on YouTube for ‘folding a bao’) for help.
- Let the bao rest with the seam down on individual squares of parchment paper for around an hour - they won’t double in size but they should get a little bigger and seem puffier. I like to put my oven on for 5 mins at the lowest setting then turn it off, and use it as a proofing box.
- Steam the bao in batches, as they swell up considerably, and steam for about 15 mins until they spring back and are less tacky.
You can keep these in the fridge from this point and just resteam to serve, or even steam from frozen.
For these Scottish bao, I mixed some food colouring with a bit of whisky and painted on a thistle - you could adapt this to whatever symbol you like! Paint the symbol just before proofing them.