Amazing Food CreationsUrban Authentic Chinese BAO
Bite of Bao started with one idea to bring the wonderful taste, quality, smell as well as the looks of real authentic Chinese BAO buns to the Netherlands. In short, we aim to provide the full BAO experience to everyone by making our own buns and unique home-made BAO fillings that you can enjoy and share.
What is BAO?
In China BAO is popular for a fluffy snowy white skin around warm, moist shrimps or juicy pork contents. Other surprising ingredients include Chinese mushroom and Eggplant, while the perfect BAO has a contrasting crunch of fresh bok choy or garlic chives. The round sack-like BAOs are served steamed and sold by the number of bamboo steamers – a lóng (笼) which is one bamboo basket consist of three BAO and two of these are more than enough for one person. Ideally, share a small tower of bamboo baskets that holds different tastes, then use your chopsticks or just simply grab a BAO – the Chinese way. On your table you will find sweet-source sauce and smoky chilli-oil to drizzle into your little dipping sauce dish. Be ready for the juicy BAO contents to burst with flavor in your mouth.
How Bite of Bao began
About a decade ago I used to eat Bapao in the Netherlands, which on the basics compared with BAO are both steamed buns stuffed with meaty fillings. BAO originates from China and in Chinese is it called Bāozi (包子). What makes BAO so special is that it is made from fresh dough that makes it fluffier and therefore more joyful to eat as well as that by using fresh dough the steamed buns themselves become more tasteful. What’s more, a range of new interesting flavors quickly transforms BAO into a trendy food that is convenient to eat everywhere and fun to share with friends as they are sold per sets of three.
In 2007, I traveled to China for the first time with the goal to learn Mandarin. As I ventured into a new world for me at the time, my intention was to immerse myself in Chinese culture so that I would be able to understand the language better. In those first weeks, I wandered around in the Hutongs of Beijing, which is a part of old Beijing that seems to have been lost in time. Lanes of old walled courtyard homes with thick red doors outside truly form a remarkable view for this ancient town that dates all the way back to the Qing Dynasty. Within this slow-paced and village-like town I came across a small food shop that was selling steamed foods. Outside the doorway and under a couple red lanterns locals heated a large barrel of water on which they steamed off these gorgeous stuffed white-looking BAOs. You could smell the buns from around the corner and although the decor has seen better days, this small restaurant had a surprising peaceful setting, which also serves as a teahouse that welcomes you to sit down for an interesting experience.
My first encounter was so memorable that the following 12 times I visited China it became more or less a tradition to taste and have a bite of BAO just right after I landed in Beijing. I really missed those warm fluffy white buns that I got so fond of. Unfortunately, in the Netherlands we don’t have a wide variety of various kinds of stuffing flavors. Nevertheless, I was always in good faith that one day we all can enjoy good BAO in the Netherlands which cherishes the good ways of making traditional BAO while dares to further venture off the beaten path by offering new BAO variations.
How we learned to make BAO
We learned the skill to make BAO from the masters in China. We went from the North to South China to understand what it means and takes to make good BAO. In Tianjin we travelled to a school that specialized in dough where we witnessed the craft of making the fresh dough used for BAO. In Chongqing we were taught how to make our popular juicy pork BAOs. Apart from that, during our time in China we explored more interesting BAO variations.