Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Little shrimp and chive buns

Oh wild yeast, wild yeast, why wont you grow faster, why oh whyyy..... whyyyyyy....... little buds of life, in the wind they fly, but what we need are proofing beasts, oh why oh why oh whyyyyy

That is the song running in my mind, a piece I created specifically for this moment. Actually, I made that up right at this moment, and yes, I apologize, it's a pretty bad song.  

I was determined to collect some wild yeast and after complaining to anyone who would listen to me, I finally complained to the right person. A coworker mentioned that his wife harvested yeasts from the skins of dried fruits for her bread making.

After hearing this, I was ecstatic and eager to go off and soak whatever dried fruits sitting around in water to collect whatever was growing on them. I managed to find some old organic prunes with some white fluff proliferating on their skins and let me tell you, I've never been so happy to see mold.

After soaking the prunes for about a day and removing the de-molded prunes, the water with the precious organisms was what remained. With a bit of flour, salt, sugar, they were ready, set,... GO!

And well, 'go' they didn't. It's been 2 weeks of feeding and they still grow quite slow. I'll continue to experiment with salt and sugar concentrations as well as incubation temperatures, flour types, amount and types of waters, and more importantly to tell myself to be patient: THEY WILL GROW BETTER.

Until then, the culture has been used mainly for pancakes and buns and some really weird breads.

Let's do the buns today.


250 mL wild yeast starter, 100% hydrated
1/2 tsp salt
280 g bread flour

1 cup chives, chopped about 1cm length
20 -22 shrimp size 51/60, pounded and broken down with cleaver (roughly 1/2 pound shrimp, pounded)
1 large egg
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 sprig green onion, chopped finely
2 red radishes, julienned
1 1/2 tsp soy sauce

Pinch of chili flakes

Small dish of cooking oil to shape dough
4 or 5 Kale leaves or cabbage leaves used to line the steamer and prevent buns from sticking

To make dough, add salt into starter and mix. Add bread flour bit by bit while mixing until all flour is incorporated. Cover and proof for a few hours until it has reached about 1.5-2x of its initial size. Because I used wild yeast and it wasn't quite optimized yet, the proofing took about 5 hours. If using instant yeast or bread yeast, proofing will definitely not take as long. The two week old wild yeast also developed a nice tangy smell and flavour that usually isn't present in instant yeast but you can try adding a touch of rice wine vinegar into the starter. This should give a nice flavour in combination with the chives and shrimp filling.

In a large bowl, combine chives, pounded shrimp, egg, garlic, green onions, soy sauce, and chili flakes and mix well.

Take out dough and knead roughly but not too much. You will feel that the dough is still springy and not entirely deflated. Dab some oil onto your palms and pinch off about 7g from the dough and roll into a ball. Flatten to about 1/2 cm thickness, fill center with chive/shrimp filling. Bring the edges up toward the center and twist and pinch to seal.

Continue until all the dough or filling has been used up. In a large steamer, line the steaming grate with kale leaves. Gently place buns on top and steam for about 20 minutes on medium heat.

But wait! I want it to be droolingly delicious for you: serve with vinegar, soy sauce, and thinly sliced ginger.

What kind of filling do you like in your buns?


  1. Wow these are made using wild yeast? You definitely have the right coworkers! They look fantastic!

  2. Oh Jen, you bring me home with your cooking! Love steamed buns! Wish I could be where you are to try this. And wild yeasts, wow, I think they did a great job!

  3. Hi Jen! Thanks for your response! That sounds wonderful, looking forward to it! Whenever you are ready, please let me know. You can perhaps send me a copy of the post by email, maybe an HTML file or I can also cut and paste whatever you send. If you don't mind while you are preparing for the pancake, do you mind sending me your post on the congee? I can do that for your first guest post and then later when you are done, the egg pancake. Thanks again!

  4. mmm this recipe totally inspires me.

  5. i would love to hear you sing that song...haha.