What the heck is this stuff? (Vietnamese lunch treat)

My co-worker, a native of Vietnam, left early today so he could prepare for his vacation there so he and his family could visit mom. He shared some meat filled pastries for breakfast and offered me his lunch when he left. In the bag was a white blob that has a squashy but somewhat firm texture like a boobie but somewhat more trapezoidally shaped, kind of like a truncated pyramid. It’s filled with meat, onions and spices. What the heck is the squashy stuff containing it all? Thong left so I can’t ask him.

A few years ago I had a client with three dogs hand the receptionist a brown paper bag which she thought contained stool samples from her 3 pets. The bag went to the lab, was opened, and found to contain an apple, sandwich, and can of soda. Seems she had collected samples the previous day, placed them in empty margarine containers, bagged them, and placed them in her refrigerator.

She also packed her husbands lunch. Wonder what he thought when he sat down to eat.

The OP reminded me of this situation. :slight_smile:


The food is called bun bao (phonetic). I think it’s spelled “banh bao”. The white stuff is steamed dough. Those things can be pretty tasty depending on what’s inside.

That’s what I was thinking too. I went to a Korean market recently and got some steamed buns with red beans inside, but the texture was weird, as described in the OP, like flesh. I wound up unable to eat them, because the texture was … too fleshy. I’ve never actually eaten uncooked flesh, but the stuff FELT so much like what I’d imagine it to be that I couldn’t swallow it. Nasty.

So how do you like your flesh? I take it you don’t like rare steaks. No tartare for you.

Thanks for the feedback. Interesting stuff. It was more uh, translucent than I thought dough could be. I hadn’t had Vietnamese food in a long time when we went to lunch Monday at a new restaurant he found. We had a sliced beef and meatball soup that was extremely yummy and I even managed not to spill noodles on my coat. He probably thought I was staring at him but I explained that I was trying to copy his chopstick technique with the loose noodles.

One of my favourite Cantonese dim sum dishes is ‘cha siu bao’, or ‘barbecued pork bun’. It’s really tasty pork in barbecue sauce, in one of those steamed dough buns. The dough is a little sweet. And in some places (notably Gerrard Street in Chinatown, London) they do it in a baked glazed bun too. Highly recommended.

My Vietnamese aunt (wife of my mother’s brother) makes something very much like this and calls it “hum bao” (per Hyperelastic, also phonetic). Delicious, but I have no idea about the recipe.

I have no idea how to spell the Thai word for the stuff - sirrabao, maybe. Bao seems to be a common denominator among Vietnamese, Cantonese and Thai so far… Interesting.

I’ve got sone Banh Bao (called Tai Bao in Cantonese, I think) in the fridge as I type this. I eat a few of 'em a week. They are a round white bready dumpling about the size of a tennis ball, only with a flat base. They are traditionally served steamed, although the prepackaged ones do great as a microwaveable snack. The inside of them is basically pork, egg, and a small amount of green vegetables. They are very mild in flavour, and not at all spicy. They really need a spash of soy and also some chilli sauce.

The char siu bao that jjimm mentioned is closely related, and is also very tasty indeed, but a little smaller, richer and heavier. It’s usually available when you go to eat dim sum. There are inumerable other variations, most of them sweet, containing bean paste and the like. I’m not keen on those ones.

I just went and checked the packet of three of these things in my fridge. The first two listed ingredients are self-raising flour and plain flour. The white stuff is just a type of dough.