Bao Down To Your New Dinner MVP, Plant-Based Bao Buns

Originally from Germany, chef Catharina Thuemling has appeared on numerous German cooking shows and now lives in Brisbane with her husband. She works as a freelance food photographer, stylist and writer, but most importantly right now, she’s the creator of our new hero-dish for post-lockdown dinner parties; the plant-based bao bun with glazed tofu.

For the Aussie’s in the back, bao buns, or gua bao, are a type of lotus leaf bun originating from Fujian cuisine. Bao buns, commonly made with pork belly, are also found from street markets to high-end establishments around the world, but notably in Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Japan. And they are drool-inducing.

Thankfully, Thuemling has removed the majority of sin to make this treat even more heavenly.

So get to work this arvo and have them prepped in time for your first Freedom Day feed.

Supplied: Califia Farms

Serves: 3-4 | Prep Time: 60 minutes | Cook Time: 20 minutes

IngredientsBao Buns

500 g all purpose flour plus extra for dusting

25 g potato or corn starch

1 tbsp brown sugar

2 level tsp dried yeast

100 ml Califia Farms Unsweetened Almond Milk

3 tbsp rice bran oil (or other neutral tasting oil) plus extra for brushing

2 tbsp rice vinegar (or white vinegar)

1/4 tsp salt

IngredientsGlazed Tofu

500 g firm tofu

Rice bran oil for frying

1 tsp miso paste

1.5 tsp soy sauce

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp date sirup or brown sugar

1/2 lime, juice only

1/4 cup water

1 cm fresh ginger, finely grated

1 glove garlic, finely grated

1 fresh chill, finely chopped

1 orange carrot

1 purple carrot

1 cucumber

2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves

1 tsp sesame seeds


  1. In a medium bowl combine flour, potato starch, brown sugar, salt and dried yeast.
  2. Add Califia Farms unsweetened almond milk, rice bran oil and rice vinegar.
  3. Knead until an elastic and smooth dough forms.
  4. Cover the dough with a clean and damp tea towel and let proof in a warm spot for about 45 – 60 minutes.
  5. Dust a working surface with some flour and knead the dough again carefully. Form a long sausage and divide it into 12 pieces equal in size.
  6. Form each dough piece in a round ball, flatten with a rolling pin (about 1 cm thick), fold them over and let the buns rest for another 10 minutes.
  7. In a medium pot bring water to the simmer over medium heat.
  8. Place a bamboo steamer lined with baking paper on top of the pot.
  9. Brush the bay buns with a little oil and steam for 7 – 8 minutes. Don’t open the lid while steaming. This might cause the bay buns to deflate.
  10. Cut tofu in long and 1 cm thick pieces.
  11. Heat oil in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat and fry tofu until crisp.
  12. In a small bowl combine miso paste, soy sauce, sesame oil, date sirup, lime juice, water, ginger and garlic. Stir until all ingredients are well mixed.
  13. Heat marinade in a small sauce pan over medium heat until thickens.
  14. Pour over crisp tofu.
  15. Julienne carrots and cut cucumber in ribbons.
  16. Fill the warm bay buns with tofu, carrots and cucumber. Garnish with sesame seeds, chilli and fresh coriander leaves.