How to Eat Mantou?
Mantou is usually a plain steamed bun that is round and flattened on both sides. It is made with milled wheat flour, water and leavening agents. To make white Mantou you will have to use white flour.
Mantou is usually used to describe unfilled steamed bun but in some parts of Southern China filled steamed buns are also called Mantou. The term bao or baozi on the other hand is a more popular name for stuffed steamed buns.
In restaurants, the Mantou served is usually small in size (4 cm) and soft and fluffy in texture. They can also be made to be large(15 cm) and hard and dense in texture and more filling.
In Northern China, where wheat rather than rice is a staple food, Mantou, bing and wheat noodle where eaten frequently. In Southern China the Stuffed Mantou usually uses fillings like minced pork meat, chicken or turkey. The stuffing can even be a combination of minced pork meat, crab meat and roe or pork mixed with prawns. They can also have sweet fillings like that made from sweet red or black bean paste.
Mantou can be fried or steamed. Steamed Mantou makes for a wonderful breakfast or even a snack and is often eaten plain. You can also serve the Mantou as a side dish with meat stew, curry or even a sauce dish. Nowadays they are also served as fast food or with a spicy dip made with chili crab. Deep fried Mantou is usually served as a dessert with sweet condensed milk dip on the side.
The Mantou is usually served in the bamboo steamers in which it has been steamed. They should be soft and yet firm and eaten when they are piping hot.
The fact that nowadays Mantou is sold at Asian supermarkets in air tight plastic containers kept in bamboo holders should speak for the popularity that this steamed bun has gained for itself. They are often precooked and can be prepared in minutes by steaming.
If you are making Mantou at home then you can also pack them in Ziploc bags and freeze them. You can simply defrost them when required and steam them for use. Here is a simple Mantou recipe.
There are two types of original unfilled Mantou. The Flower rolls plain steamed buns which are made by cutting the dough into thin strips that are rolled and twisted into spiral mounds. They are usually eaten with meat stews and saucy dishes. The Silver Thread Buns are also unfilled mantou but inside the long bun there are thin dough strips which when steamed look like silver threads.
Shengjian mantou and xiǎolóng mántóu are actually filled steamed buns or bao. The former is small pan-fried bao that is filled with pork and gelatin mixture which melts into a soup when cooked. The latter, also known as soup dumpling is traditionally filled with pork. It may also be filled with meats, seafood and vegetarian fillings. This steamed bun will also have a soupy filling because of the use of solid meat gelatin inside the skin alongside the meat filling.