We’re big Firefly fans in my house. If you’re sitting there saying to yourself, “What’s Firefly?” I gotta say, I don’t blame you. Firefly only ran for one season back in the early 2000s, and not even a full season at that. If you blinked at the wrong moment, you probably missed it. But after its cancellation, Firefly gained a substantial cult following through the sale of DVDs.
In 2005, Universal Studios responded to fan demands and released the movie Serenity as a sequel to the TV show. Both the Firefly TV show and the Serenity movie are awesome, and I can’t recommend them enough!
For today’s recipe, I took inspiration from the Firefly episode “Our Mrs. Reynolds.” This episode is one of my favorites, in which Mal finds himself inadvertently married to a “sweet” young woman named Saffron (I won’t spoil it to those of you who haven’t seen it yet, but let’s just say Saffron isn’t all she appears to be 😉 ). Trying to convince Mal that she’d be a good wife, Saffron prepares a homecooked meal aboard the ship: fresh bao.
The culture in the Firefly ‘Verse is a mixture of influences from China and the American frontier, so bao fits perfectly with those Chinese influences. Bao is a Chinese steamed bun stuffed with filling. There are a variety of different fillings, but Saffron probably used a meat filling for the dinner she made for Mal. Pork is probably the most traditional meat to use for the filling, but since it can be hard to come across supplies out in the Black, use whatever ground meat you have handy.
I adapted this bao recipe from China Sichuan Food to make Saffron’s recipe for fresh bao.
Saffron’s Bao Recipe – Firefly
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1/2 lb. ground meat
- 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped carrots, cooked
- 1/2 tsp. sugar
- 2 tsp. sesame oil
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- Mix together all the dough ingredients.
- Knead the dough for 5 minutes, either by hand or with an electric mixer with a dough hook attachment.
- Allow the dough to rise for an hour, or until doubled in size.
- Brown the ground meat, and mix in the rest of the filling ingredients.
- Roll the risen dough into a long log shape.
- Cut the dough into 8 sections, and roll out each of the sections into flat circles.
- Place 2 Tbsp. of the filling onto each dough circle, and seal the buns in a cinched pattern on top.
- Spray a frying pan with oil, and place the bao on the pan.
- Cover the pan with a lid, and cook the bao on medium heat for 2 or 3 minutes, until the bottoms are browned.
- Pour 1/2 cup of water into the pan with the bao, and cover the pan again.
- Cook the bao in the water and steam for about 5 more minutes, or until the water is evaporated completely.
I loved using this method to make bao since I do not have a steamer at home. The crispy brown on the bottom of the buns contrasts so nicely with the fluffy steamed top.
Dip the bao in your favorite sauce, and serve it with rice and veggies to make a complete meal. To make enough for the whole crew, double or triple the bao recipe as needed. Just don’t ask Zoë to cook.
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