What to do with leftover bao buns? Make tacos!

If you find yourself with leftover bao buns and aren’t sure how to successfully reheat them (or even if you should attempt such a feat), here’s another option for you: Turn that bao into tasty tacos.

What are bao buns?

In doing some research for this post, I learned that saying “bao bun” is kinda redundant, because “bao” basically means filled steamed bun or filled bread-like dumpling in China. (Bao actually translates to “package” in Mandarin, or “sack” in Vietnamese.) So saying “bao bun” is like saying “ATM machine” or “PIN number” or any other incorrect but generally accepted American term.

Technically – well, not technically … Rather, to be culturally accurate: We didn’t use leftover bao for this recipe. We used leftover Wang Mandoo, which is a giant, northern-style steamed bun from Korea. Wang Mandoo translates to “King Dumpling,” and IMHO is exactly that. It’s the bigger, more-filling-to-bun-ratio version of the Chinese bao gaining popularity across the country. We get ours at the Wang Mandoo stand outside of Joong Boo market that sells football-shaped, softball-size Wang Mandoo for like $3 a pop. They make pork, pork-kimchi (<— get this!!!), and sweet black-rice bun red-bean filled dumplings. You can also get smaller steamed dumplings similar to Chinese potstickers (Bibim Mandoo), which are also tasty but less of a novelty. Anyway, back to the recipe …

How to make leftover bao or Wang Mandoo tacos:*

leftover bao wang mandoo tacos
The other day, our eyes were bigger than our stomachs. (I don’t know about you but this happens to me a lot.) We came home with two pork-kimchi Wang Mandoo, but only ate one. Instead of attempting to reheat it back to deliciousness, because I’m really not confident that a steamed bun like bao or Wang Mandoo would reheat well, we decided to remix it. We ditched the bun and, as my partner Brock said, swapped out the starch delivery vehicle and made tacos. It only took about 10 minutes, and they were really tasty. Here’s how to do it:

Ingredients:

  • 1 leftover wang mandoo (or a few leftover bao)
  • A few tablespoons of chopped onion
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • A few tablespoons of chopped kimchi
  • 2-3 eggs, scrambled with a small pinch of salt
  • 4-6 soft corn tortillas
  • Toppings to taste. We used:
    • Shredded cheddar cheese
    • Chopped cilantro
    • Chopped green onion
    • Kewpie mayo
    • Crunch Dynasty (Basically like an Asian everything bagel mix that’s spicy and savory and crunchy and if you like Asian food and heat and appreciate the added value of crunchy texture in your dishes, trust me, you need this.)

Method:

Heat tortillas. Warm a (non-stick if you’re also doing fillings in here) small skillet over medium heat. Add tortillas one at a time, heat through on each side until they’re more pliable and less likely to break when you fill and fold them, and set aside. Keep them warm in the oven, either on a warm plate with a towel over it, simply wrapped in a tea towel, or wrapped in foil.

With your tortillas ready, move on to the fillings. Wipe out your skillet (or grab a non-stick one), put it on medium-high heat and sautee your onion in a bit of oil with a small pinch of salt. When the onion is translucent and maybe starting to brown, add your chopped garlic. Sautee for about 30 seconds, or until the garlic becomes fragrant.

Reduce heat to medium/medium-low and add your chopped kimchi. Stir and sautee until your kimchi is heated through.

Reduce heat again to medium-low or low, add your eggs. Stir and cook until the eggs are just cooked through.

Turn off the heat, get your tortillas onto plates for eating, and get those tortillas filled up and topped to your delight as fast as possible. Cold eggs are not delicious.

Enjoy.

* Note: If you have two people cooking, put one on tortillas and one on fillings. With Brock on tortillas and me on fillings, we finished up at just about the same time. But if you’re solo, you can only dirty one pan by following the method above. 

Shout out to my buddy Brian for helping with the cultural accuracy of this piece. Anything that’s solid in here is thanks to him. Any errors are solely my own.

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