Tasty pumpkin steamed bun
THE ‘XI BAN’ or ‘hee ban’ is a traditional Chinese steamed bun made of wheat and glutinous rice flour. It can be plain, or flavoured using pumpkin, sweet potato or even pandan, if you like. Some versions also have fillings such as red bean paste.
Recently, I had bought some frozen pumpkin xi ban to try, and enjoyed it. I searched for the recipe online, and discovered that it is easy enough to try making myself.
The ingredients are easily available and the method pretty simple. I even learned that it is of Hakka origin, something that I didn’t know as a Hakka person myself.
According to the Do What I Like blog, xi ban is usually served during special occasions such as celebrations, funerals, and prayers.
Being made of flour and glutinous rice flour, it makes a filling snack, so that the guests will feel full and eat less of the main dishes later.
As the Hakkas were both poor and thrifty, this helps them save some money on the main dishes.
The recipe I used for the pumpkin xi ban has been adapted from a few recipes I found online, namely mykitchen101en.com for the ingredients, and guaishushu1.com for the method.
Ingredients (makes 12 buns) 240g pumpkin, diced 2 pieces pandan leaves 90g fine sugar 1 tsp dry instant yeast 130g plain flour 130g glutinous flour 1 tbsp vegetable oil 1 tbsp water Baking paper (non-stick) or banana leaves
Method 1. Using a Chinese rice bowl as a guide (about 10cm diameter), cut out 12 pieces of baking paper, or banana leaf circles. If you have traced out the circles with pen or pencil on baking paper, cut about half a centimetre inside the circumference to prevent the carbon or ink from staining the buns. 2. Steam the diced pumpkins together with pandan leaves for 20 minutes until soft. Remove the pandan leaves. 3. Blend or mash the steamed pumpkin together
with the sugar. 4. Mix the plain flour, glutinous flour, blended pumpkin, yeast, vegetable oil, and water together to form a dough. If using banana leaves, brush some oil on one side. 6. Divide the dough into 12 balls (about 50g
each). 7. Coat your palms with oil and roll the dough into balls. Place each ball on the baking paper/banana leaves. Press down gently to flatten them. Cover under a damp cloth and leave to proof for about an hour. 8. Once the dough has expanded, boil some water in a steamer. Steam the buns for 15-20 minutes. It is best to line the inner side of the steamer cover with a towel to absorb the condensation from the steam. 9. When done, leave the buns to cool for five minutes in the steamer, before removing them and serving them warm. 10. If you have leftovers, they may be kept in the refrigerator or freezer, and re-steamed the next time you wish to eat them. 5.