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  • Dumplings are humble and homey. They make people smile. I have loved them since childhood, and this site focuses on cooking and finding the tastiest morsels. It's also the companion to my cookbook, Asian Dumplings.


    Andrea Nguyen
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« IACP People’s Choice Cookbook Award: Cast Your Vote! | Main | Asian Dumplings Potluck Tips »

03/17/2010

Comments

Wendy Tien

I remember reading your post about keeping bao white and I'm so sorry about the groggy mistake! It's happened to all of us. I once had to make four times the quantity of pancakes I intended because I forgot how much baking soda I'd added, and then I remembered, and it was too much.

Science-wise, the reason your bao turned brown and shiny was the alkalinity. Baking soda produces an alkaline solution in water and this alkalinity accelerates browning reactions (e.g., the Maillard reaction). This is the reason a baking soda/water wash is recommended for pretzels - to achieve that deep brown color. Actually, lye is traditional, but food grade lye is not readily available to home cooks and most people are squeamish about cooking with a product they associate with toilet bowl cleaner.

Andrea Nguyen

Wendy -- thanks for the terrific food science explanation. Indeed, it has to do with alkalinity. There is a Chinese leavening agent -- potassium bicarbonate -- which is also alkaline and has a similar impact on food. I use potassium bicarbonate solution when I prepare moon cakes. The solution has sometimes been called "lye water" but I believe that that's an incorrect name. Man, I've not made soft pretzels in well... too many years!

In these baos, it's a situation of baking soda gone wild! The metallic taste was just awful.

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Wow, that's dramatic.

At least there's a visual clue, unlike a sugar/salt mixup which is a shock when tasted (I've never done that, but I know those who have).

Nate @ House of Annie

Wow, that's a striking difference, all due to a little chemistry!

"Don't cook until you are lucid." hehe. Great advice! Thanks for sharing your mistake with us and educating us about what is the right ingredient.

Tuty @Scentofspice

Andrea, I had to laugh when I read the "scraping out the filling". I would have done the same thing too. Thank you for sharing the story.

Andrea Nguyen

Bob -- I have mistakenly used salt instead of sugar. I admit it. I'm human.

I'm delighted to share my foibles. Better me than you, eh?

Brian Asis

Very nice save with the filling :D I had to agree with your husband, it still does look good.

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