Yesterday I tried to make manapua and I’m no expert on the correct names and origins of this food but generally I think you could also call this hum bao or bao buns or steamed buns. I have never made this before or seen anyone make it, but my cousin Lisa told me she made them once and it was easy.
So I made the filling and that went fine. I didn’t like the recipe’s filling so I invented my own which was chicken and pressed tofu baked in homemade bbq sauce and then minced carrot, turnip, onion and mushroom sauteed in a bit of bbq sauce and mixed with the tofu/chicken.
Then I made the dough and that actually turned out okay too except it seemed to need an awful lot of flour and I had a tough time getting it all mixed in and the recipe said to be careful not to knead too much because you didn’t want gluten to form.
I did all the steps, did the dough rise, rolled out my dough, filled em up and here’s where the problem came in. The recipe guy said he steamed them in a bamboo steamer in his wok. Since I don’t have a bamboo steamer or a wok, I decided to use the steamer insert in my soup pot. He said he did 12 at a time, two layers of six, but as I made mine I thought, “Hey, I can fit 12 at a time, in two layers,” and I packed them all in elbow to elbow.
So when I did the rise, the buns all fused together into a giant lump of dough and then when I did the steam/cook part, the only part that cooked was the bottoms and along the sides. Then when I took them out, the individual buns were all stuck together and when I tried to separate them, the filling flew out. So bascially I ended up with a manapua dough cobbler. We threw them on a cookie sheet and baked them in the oven and salvaged them somewhat. But I was quite disappointed as this was a fairly labor intensive meal. At least I know what I did wrong for next time.