Crispy bottom pan-fried fried vegetable buns made with no yeast, are perfectly crunchy and crispy on the outside, yet tender and chewy on the inside with a savoury vegetarian filling made with stir-fried mushrooms, carrots, and vermicelli noodles. Say goodbye to takeout and serve this popular Chinese snack at home with a homemade vinegar dipping sauce.
What are Crispy Bottom Vegetable Buns?
Crispy bottom vegetable buns are a popular Chinese street food, also known as shui jian bao (which translates to "water fried bun"). They are first fried to get that iconic golden crispy bottom, and then steamed to cook the inside and give the buns their soft and fluffy texture inside.
Here is what you will need to make these vegetable buns:
- bun dough - made with all-purpose flour, salt, and boiling water. Adding hot boiling water in flour is a technique known as flour scalding, which breaks down starch in the flour and makes the dough softer and more stretchy. It also makes the dough much easier to knead.
- rice vermicelli noodles
- brown mushrooms
- green onions
- seasonings - soy sauce, sesame oil, white pepper, vegetable stock powder (optional), and salt.
- cornstarch - if needed to thicken up the filling.
- vegetable oil - for stir-frying the filling, and for pan-frying the buns.
- black or white sesame seeds - to coat on the buns.
- vinegar dipping sauce - made with black vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and green onions.
How to Make the Best Crispy Bottom Pan-Fried Vegetables Buns with No Yeast
First, make the dough. In a large bowl, whisk together flour and salt to combine. Slowly add in boiling water and stir well to combine, until there are no dry flour particles visible in the bowl. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Cover and let the mixture rest for 10 minutes.
Then, transfer the dough onto a clean and lightly greased surface, and knead the dough for 5-10 minutes until the dough is smooth and not sticky at all. Transfer the smooth dough back in the mixing bowl and cover with cling wrap. Let rest for 20 minutes, while you are prepping the filling.
Next, prep the filling ingredients and stir fry them together. In a large skillet or wok, heat oil over medium high heat for 1-2 minutes until the oil is hot and starts to sizzle. Add in all the filling ingredients and stir well with a wooden spatula to mix evenly, about 2 minutes. If you find the vegetable mixture is a bit watery, add a teaspoon of cornstarch to thicken it a bit. Transfer the mixture onto a plate and let it cool down to room temperature, about 15-20 minutes.
Now let's shape the dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a log and divide it into 10 equal pieces using a bench scraper or knife. Take one piece of dough at a time and flatten it with a small dough roller or with your palm.
Shape the dough into a 4-inch circle. Note that the centre should be slightly thicker than the edges. This dough should be particularly softer and more pliable because of the hot water scalding flour technique.
How to Fold Crispy Bottom Buns
Place 1 tablespoon of filling into the middle of each rolled out dough. Bring the edges of the dough up, enclosing the filling, and pleat the edges together into a little bag to seal the mixture inside.
Add sesame seeds into a shallow dish. Dab the smooth side of the bun with a little bit of water and gently press it into the shallow dish of sesame seeds. The water will help the seeds stick to the bun. Place the bun on a baking tray and cover with a tea towel to prevent it from drying out.
How to Pan Fry Crispy Bottom Buns
In a large non-stick skillet, heat oil over medium high heat for 2 minutes. Place a batch of 5 buns with the sesame seeds side facing up and placed 1/2-inch apart to prevent them from sticking together. Cook for 1 minute until the bottom turns golden brown.
Turn the buns over and add 1/2 cup of water into the pan. The water should start sizzling and boiling immediately. Make sure the water is about 1/2-inch deep and covers about one-third of the buns’ height. Cover with a lid and cook covered for 5-6 minutes until almost all the water has evaporated.
Take off the lid and lower heat to medium. Cook for another 1 minute until all the water has been absorbed and the sesame seeds side has turned golden brown and crispy as well.
How to Serve Crispy Bottom Vegetable Buns
Serve these pan-fried buns hot with a side of vinegar dipping sauce. To make the dipping sauce, combine black vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and green onions in a small bowl and stir to combine.
Tips for Making Pan-Fried Buns
- Make sure the dough is well-kneaded. A well-kneaded dough should be smooth and bounces back quickly when poked with your finger. If the indentation doesn’t bounce back right away and stays like a dimple, keep kneading for a few more minutes.
- Customize the filling. There are endless ways that you can customize the filling. You can use different vegetables such as beans sprouts or chives, or add in your favourite protein such as minced pork or chicken. The key is to keep the filling thick and not too runny. If you find it too runny, drain the extra liquid or add cornstarch to thicken it up.
More Dim Sum Recipes
- Crispy Fried Vegetarian Spring Rolls
- Shanghai Style Vegan Steamed Buns
- Spicy Chili Oil Wontons
- Egg and Chive Vegetarian Dumplings
- Savoury Chive Pancakes with Sourdough Starter
- Chicken and Cilantro Wontons
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