A night of making and building bao
The bao has become a big thing. Nothing beats a steamed bun sliced in half and stuffed with fresh fillings. I’d argue that nowhere does these beautiful Taiwanese buns better than Baowow in Bristol, which recently held a ‘Build your own Bao’ event to the delight of street-food enthusiasts.
If Baldwin Street is your budget-bite destination, you’ll be familiar with the long lunchtime queues this intimate venue – offering the finest in Asian street-food – gathers. Only a handful of places in Bristol serve true Vietnamese soul food. Thankfully, Baowow is top for steaming bowls of pho and super-fresh Eastern flavour.
The few who bagged tickets to this sold-out event were treated to an evening of making AND tasting, organised by Foozie, a website dedicated to listing and hosting foodie and boozie events in Bristol. Huddling into the restaurant and taking seat a-top tiny stools, we were warmly welcomed with ears, eyes and mouths wide open. Kevin from Crane Brewery brought the booze, and his whistle-stop tour through Japanese beer whet our appetites for the main event. Tumblers of Japanese craft beer were dished out in abundance – the winning tipple was a red rice ale from Hitachino Brewery, sweet yet refreshing.
The cooking course commenced as Baowow owner Som brought out the bamboo steamer basket. Having learnt about the variations of bao made across Asia, we were treated to a satisfying squeeze of dough and a practice at shaping our very own buns.
Full of knowledge but feeling famished, the real fun began whilst filling our buns and stuffing our faces. From pulled pork and beef brisket to homemade kimchee and powdered peanuts, we were treated to a great range of classic ingredients. I started with marinated tofu and steamed pak choi, topped off with ample amounts of fresh chilli, coriander and sliced cucumber. Having filled a gap but eager for more, I moved onto meat. Taking inspiration from the Baowow menu board – particularly the Chairman Baow – I teamed praised pork with crushed peanuts, coriander and sugar before adding my own smothering of sriracha sauce. I firmly believe sriracha is a must-have for any chilli fanatic, and the sharp yet sweet heat worked really well with pork.
The secrets of South Asian cooking are something that frightens even the most adventurous of foodies. Build your Own Bao has inspired me to tackle authentic recipes and invest in a few extra utensils and cookware, chopsticks at the ready. Boxing up an extra-stuffed bun to takeaway, I headed home with a full tum and a chilli-tingling tongue.
Check out Baowow on Baldwin Street, Bristol. @baowow85