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.

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