Super popular street food! Everywhere! In every province! Different recipes! Different colors - green (with pandan leaves flavor!), light violet (with taro flavor)!
Bánh bao always associated with two images in my childhood!
For those who live in Asia and martial art fan - probably know a famous novelist Jin Yong (Kim Dung or his real name Louis Cha), in many of his novels - bánh bao has been described as no filling (không nhân) and only for the poors or good knights (hảo hán!).
I love Jin Yong's martial art novels and remember bánh bao in his stories!
By the way I heard the origin of bánh bao related to famous Chinese historical character - Zhuge Liang (Khổng Minh Gia Cát Lượng), he created small steamed buns filled with horse meat in the shape of human head in order to save his soldiers from the sacrifice to some angered river's spirits!
After 1975, i.e after the liberation, bánh bao was so unaffordable to me! Especially those big ones from famous stalls, filled with ground pork, egg, Chinese sausage...it was a dream for me - a little kid at that time!
It was a pungent smell or we say "khai" in Vietnamese (literally smell of urine!). I still remember one of my childhood friends said "if it's not smell as urine, it's not bánh bao!". In order to let bánh bao dough rise, they used probably large amount of poor quality baking soda, creating that unusual smell!
That was in old days, not good old days!
I tried bánh bao in Osaka, a popular brand in the city train station and in Taipei - small stall near to my hotel, I passed by every day but only bought it in my last day! My mistake!
I should say the one from Taipei is the best! Very smooth soft outside and filled with simply veggie but tasty! I was probably very hungry in that rainy day in Taipei!
Bánh bao could be filled with either ground pork, wood ear mushroom, shiitake (nấm đông cô), Chinese sausage, salted egg or chicken, or just veggies or sweet egg custard! I love baking and bánh bao is always in my wish list! But still thinking the recipe for more authentic filling!
Most popular filling: ground pork, mushroom, glass noodle, chinese sausage & salted egg yolk!
I recently tried bánh bao Bà Cả Cần (*), after almost 10 years, and I have to say it's the best. Much better than popular brand Thọ Phát that we see at many places in district 5!
(*): it seems morning, even at the same place, they sell not bánh bao Cả Cần as in the evening, the quality is bad, the overall look is also different! Better check out the evening sale, make sure you get bánh bao in paper box with Cả Cần brand!
Checked, it's true! Morning - one vendor, afternoon & evening - another and better one!
As it stated on the box "Morning & Afternoon - different"!