Bet you haven’t seen bao buns like this! We’re making steamed homemade bao buns from scratch using the new Marion’s Kitchen Bao Bun Meal Kit (although we have a DIY version for our non-Aussie community!), then filling ‘em with tender-as-heck cheesy meatballs and the most flavoursome marinara sauce ever. These are our meatball sub bao buns… and they are bao-yoo-tiful!
vegetable oil, for greasing
250g (9 oz) beef mince
100g (3.5 oz) pork mince
¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
1 tbsp milk
50g (1.5 oz) ricotta
1 garlic clove, finely grated
¼ cup finely grated parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve
½ tsp fennel seeds
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp sea salt
Miso tomato sauce:
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 bay leaf
1 whole star anise
1 dried red chilli
1 x 400g (14 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp shiro miso paste
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley, plus extra to serve
To make the bao buns, empty the bao mix into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in water and oil according to packet instructions, then mix until the dough starts to come together. Lightly grease your work surface with oil, empty mixture onto your bench and knead for 5 minutes until smooth. Shape into a ball, then transfer to a clean bowl. Cover bowl with cling film and set aside for 90 minutes to proof.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 160°C (320°F). To make the meatballs, combine the ingredients in a large bowl. Mix until just combined, as overmixing will result in a tougher texture. Form mixture into meatballs a little smaller than a golf ball. Place the meatballs onto a tray lined with baking paper. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until lightly golden.
For the miso tomato sauce, heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for a minute until fragrant. Add the bay leaf, star anise and dried chilli. Then add the whole peeled tomatoes, including the juices. Break up the tomatoes a little with a wooden spoon. Add the tomato paste, miso paste and soy sauce. Mix, then simmer uncovered for 30-40 minutes, stirring every so often (if the sauce starts to thicken too much, add a little water).
Let’s get back to the dough. Once it’s risen, knead the dough for another 5 minutes, then divide the dough into 6 even portions. Next, divide each of the 6 portions in half again so you have 12 in total, then roll each out into a sausage-like shape. Cross over 2 logs at their centre, then braid each end over one another, and tuck the edges under. Transfer to a tray lined with baking paper, then repeat with remaining dough to create 6 braided subs. Allow to rest for a final 15 minutes.
Place in a steamer basket and cook for 10-12 mins, or until light, fluffy and cooked through.
Remove and discard the bay leaf, star anise and dried chilli from the miso tomato sauce. Carefully transfer the cooked meatballs into the tomato sauce and gently mix – those meatballs will be very tender! Add the parsley and carefully mix again. Set aside for later.
Butterfly the baguette baos in half without cutting all the way through, then open up and place the saucy meatballs inside. Top with a little extra sauce, plenty of parmesan cheese and some extra chopped parsley.