Thursday, December 13, 2007


I am a friend of steamed buns, whether plain or filled. I've encountered Chinese-style buns in California, Mexico, Indonesia, Germany and Hungary, and home-made, they've become a staple, filled with meat, leeks or cabbage, or -- when I'm not watching my sugar -- sweetened red beans. I like the meat version best, and eat it, as I learned in Indonesia, with sambal oelek and ketchap. Steamed breads probably spread westward from China across Central Asia and the variations on the Mongolian/Turkic mantu and manti are legion, with the Kazakh version, filled with a pumpkin and meat mixture deserving some special mention

One of Christina's grandmothers came from the German minority in Bessarabia, that wedge of land between the Dniester and Prut rivers that has been tossed between the larger neighboring countries for centuries and most of which now belongs to the Republic of Moldova. A favorite there were the large steam buns with a crisp crust on the bottom served with a savory sauce or with potato soup (in Germany similar buns are frequently served with a sweet vanilla sauce). I presume that this steamed bread from the Black Sea region is from the western edge of the transmission chain via Central Asia.

Dampfnudeln und Pfeffersoß

With dough hooks, mix 1 lb white flour, a package of yeast, a bit of salt, and perhaps a bit of sugar with a cup of tepid water until smooth -- about 7 minutes with my sturdy hand mixer.

Cover and let rise in a warm place for about an hour.

Rub some fat (either a mixture of ghee and oil, or lard and oil, or shortening) over the bottom of a large deep pan, cut the dough into four equal parts, and make them into balls, place the balls in the pan, add water to a depth of no more than two centimeters. Cover and let cook until all of the water has steamed away, about 40 minutes, and the buns all have a nice crust on the bottom.

Serve hot with hot or cold Pepper Sauce

made from 5 bell peppers (I use long red Turkish peppers, but my mother-in-law uses a mixture of red, yellow, and green bells) and 1 large onion, chopped to centimeter-square pieces, sauteed in a bit of oil (not olive) , sometimes later adding one medium eggplant, similarly cubed, and then a can of chopped tomatoes, some salt, some parsley, and cayenne to taste (I use 1 tablespoon of hot hungarian paprika and about a half teaspoon of cayenne). Sautee for about an hour at low temperature, adding water as needed. Can be served hot or cold, when warm, with Dampfnudeln or mashed potatoes, when cold, with bread, sausage, or fried eggs.

1 comment:

Elaine Fine said...

The Bessarabian part of my heritage (my maternal grandmother's side) thanks you for this recipe!