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Among all the great to-go options out there, the Bao—a small, round, brioche-style sandwich that is steamed and stuffed with meat and veggies—is definitely a must. And with good reason! Sort of like an Asian hamburger, it’s both comforting and bursting with flavours and textures. Originally from Taiwan, the Bao became an instant success in Asian countries and among street-food enthusiasts the whole world over. Today, there exist several variations, such as the gua bao, a sandwich version of the bao. To enjoy the bao to its fullest, it’s best to consume it hot—you’ll better appreciate the bread’s light and moist texture. When it comes to toppings, the most popular recipe combines glazed pork and fresh and pickled vegetables. A delicious medley that offers a tasty contrast in flavours and a whole lot of freshness! Cilantro and hoisin sauce make great flavour enhancers . . . guaranteed to make every bite finger-licking good! A versatile dish, the bao is also yummy with other protein options, such as shrimp, grilled chicken, and tofu (you HAVE to try our recipe for maple-glazed tofu gua bao!). If you feel like switching things up, try swapping the hoisin sauce with a spicy peanut sauce or sriracha mayonnaise. For an express version, forgo the julienned veggies and instead use a mixture of store-bought pre-cut vegetables that you can season to your liking (think rice vinegar or sesame oil). The possibilities are endless . . . and delicious!

MAPLE-GLAZED TOFU GUA BAO

Prep time: 30 minutes Cooking time: 15 minutes Portions: 4 to 6

Ingredients

Bao buns Maple-glazed tofu
  • 450 g (1 lb.) firm tofu, cut into ½ cm-thick cubes
  • 45 ml (3 tbsp.) olive oil
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) maple syrup
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp.) soya sauce
  • 2 limes, zest and juice
  • Salt and pepper
Pickled coleslaw
  • ½ purple cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 250 ml (1 cup) cider vinegar or other, to taste
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) maple syrup, honey, or sugar
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) water
  • 5 ml (1 tsp.) salt
Seasoned radishes
  • 1 watermelon radish, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 daikon, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch of French radishes, thinly sliced
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp.) olive oil
  • Zest from 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper
Tahini-lime sauce
  • 45 ml (3 tbsp.) tahini
  • 45 ml (3 tbsp.) yogurt
  • 45 ml (3 tbsp.) maple syrup
  • 2 limes, zest and juice
  • Water, as needed to dilute
  • Salt and pepper
Toppings (optional)
  • Roasted and chopped peanuts
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Lime zest
  • Chopped green onions

PREPARATION

Step 1 Tofu: In a bowl, marinate the tofu with the rest of the ingredients for at least 3 hours. Heat a drizzle of oil in a pan and cook the tofu until caramelized. Set aside. Step 2 Coleslaw: Divide the vegetables among one or several Mason jars. In a small pot, bring the vinegar, maple syrup, water, and salt to a boil. Let cool slightly then pour over the vegetables. Close the jar or jars. Step 3 Seasoned radishes: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Set aside. Step 4 Tahini sauce: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Season to taste and set aside. Step 5 Assembly: Open the bread and stuff with tofu, coleslaw, and radishes. Drizzle with tahini sauce and garnish with the toppings of your choice.