Sunday, September 26, 2010

Taste of Aloha Part Two: Manapua

Here is a popular snack you'll find in pretty much any Hawaiian
convenience store.

Manapua are a large steamed bun derived from Chinese cha siu baau.
I believe they were sucked into the local cuisine via the merging
of peoples in the plantation culture.

The traditional buns are made with lard filled with shredded
flesh and bbq sauce, etc. But there are popular vegetarian versions
that are either filled with purple sweet potatoes or red beans.

The red bean versions always reminded me of the Japanese Taiyaki
(red bean filled cakes in the shape of fish) that I used to get
in Little Tokyo or at Sumo tournaments. However those are made
with more of a waffle batter, where as Manapua have a light, sticky
steamed exterior.

These are easy to make and very very filling.
They will also puff up quite a bit when steaming, so don't be
surprised when you lift up that steamer lid.

Vegan Red Bean Manapua

2 cups of cooked azuki, red beans
2-3 tbsp agave syrup
2 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1 tbsp baking powder
3 tbsps powdered sugar
2 tbsps earthbalance or vegetable shortening
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Mash the cooked red beans with the agave syrup until it reaches
desired sweetness and is mostly smooth.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl, add the sugar and mix.
Add 2 tbsp earthbalance, cutting in until evenly distributed.

Add just enough water until it comes forms a firm mass.
Roll it into a ball. Cover and let it rest for 30 minutes.
Cut into 10-12 small pieces and flatten in to discs.
Put a spoonful of bean paste onto rolled out dough.
Pull the sides around the filling and pinch together.

You can place on a piece of parchment paper in your steamer
which will make it easier to handle, but it is not entirely necessary.

Brush the tops with vegetable oil.
Then steam the buns for about 15-20 minutes.
Immediately after removing dip tops into a scattering of sesame seeds.

These can even be frozen and reheated later for a nice snack!

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