A vegan version of Taiwanese-style Gua Bao (割包), with flavors just as you would find on the bustling streets of Taipei. Pulled Jackfruit “Pork,” Fried Mustard Greens, and Peanut Sugar all in the warm embrace of an ultra-fluffy home-made Gua Bao.
Some of my most cherished memories involve these humble Gua Baos. Everytime I hold a taiwanese gua bao in my hands, I think about my grandpa, who passed away an year ago. For some reason, I could clearly picture the first time I held a gua bao in my tiny little hands as a six-year-old, with my grandpa smiling, holding one in his hands as well. I remember it like it was yesterday.
Unlike most asian grandparents, my grandpa was a stoic, seemingly emotionless man. I hardly ever see him smile, let alone cry, or utter the words “I love you.” But he was wise, humble, focused, and loving in every other way. I started golfing since I was six, and every week, I would play with my grandpa at the one golf course he loved. Every time we went, we would each buy Gua Bao at the resting stop and eat them together. Wish we could enjoy that moment again. This recipe is dedicated to him.
HOW TO GUA BAO (Easy Method)
#1: Make the Dough. In a large bowl, combine all dough ingredients and mix together until a shaggy dough forms. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth. Since the dough has high hydration, it may be a bit sticky. But as you knead it, all the flour & clumps will slowly unstick from your hands. This should take around 7 minutes. Once smooth, place the dough into a clean, lightly oiled bowl and let it proof covered for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size.
#2: Form the Gua Baos. After proofing, deflate the dough turn it onto a clean surface. You can very lightly oil the surface if you find that it’s sticking. Roll the dough out to a large circle of around 1 cm (0.4 inch) thickness. Use a 10 cm (4 inch) round cutter (or bowl) to cut circles. For each circular dough, brush on a little bit of vegetable oil (prevents sticking), stretch slightly, and fold over to form the Gua Bao shape.
Quickly place the folded Gua Bao onto a piece of parchment paper that’s been cut out to a rectangle (around double the size of each bao). Repeat this for the rest of the dough. Reform the remainders into a ball, roll it back out, and repeat the whole process until little to no dough remains.