This Microwave Hack Is The Key To Making Perfect Steamed Buns

Chinese bao buns today come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and fillings. Asian Recipes lists nine, including the milky white cha siu bao, whose jagged tops reveal spicy chunks of Chinese pork barbecue or char siu; dou sha bao, which are smooth and round and filled with red bean paste; the nai huang bao, filled with a sweet, vibrant yellow custard; and the yacai bao, made with the stems of the mustard plant. There are even unfilled buns known as mantou, and bao buns used to hold thin slices of braised pork belly called gua bao

No matter how they look or what they are filled with, Chinese buns are generally steamed in large bamboo baskets over boiling hot water. As Red House Spice explains, Chinese buns thrive when they are cooked in traditional bamboo steamers because they don't trap any liquid and cause condensation, and because the bamboo essence and smell may be transferred to the food for a unique flavor. But what happens if you have one or two buns to reheat and all you've got is a microwave oven?

One Japanese user swears by this hack to reheat bao

While using a microwave might give you the quickest route to reheating, it isn't expected to yield the best results. While there are some ways you may have been using your microwave all wrong, if these buns aren't microwaved properly the bao can end up wet with condensation and chewy in texture, according to Kitchen Appliance Answer. To avoid this, the site suggests using a microwave steamer to heat the bao, wrapping the bao with a damp paper towel, or microwaving the baos on a plate on high for a minute, with a cup of water next to them.

But Japan Today swears by a hack popularized by Twitter user Mugi Rice who has suggested that a microwaved bao can be elevated if it is nuked on top of a mug containing one centimeter of water and then heated for two minutes. The trick is said to work because the water in the mug heats the bun in a similar way that it would in a traditional steamer, which leads to the desired texture and moistness levels in the food. While the hack isn't going to work if you have more than one or two bao to heat up, its good to know that any buns you might have picked up outside won't go to waste at home just because a proper bamboo steamer isn't handy.