Chef Olivia Oldfield-Beechey from Fitzroy’s high-end vegetarian dining offering, Transformer, shares this modern vegetarian take on an Asian classic.
These buns are well tasty and basically incorporate a culmination of all of my experiences in the restaurants I’ve worked in in both England and Australia.
You will be able to find the bao, the gochujang, the Sichuan peppercorns and the kim chi at most Asian supermarkets, but I use Tan Hung on Victoria St in Richmond.
Once marinated in the Sichuan marinade and fried, the haloumi has a meaty quality to it. The longer you marinate the haloumi, the softer it will get – but don’t keep it for more than a week because the fresh ingredients will start to lose flavour. Make sure you marinate the cheese at least overnight.
Don’t be deterred by all the components of this dish. It’s actually quite simple to make – you just have to be prepared!
Makes 4 -6 Bao Buns
4-6 bao buns
¼ tub of kim chi.
¼ bunch spring onions, finely sliced
½ bunch coriander, finely chopped
For the haloumi
250g haloumi, cut into 12 pieces
½ bunch spring onion, roughly chopped
20g peeled ginger, roughly chopped
20ml sherry vinegar
150g sugar (any type)
10 cloves garlic, peeled
two large shallots, peeled, roughly chopped
190ml ketyap manis (sweet soy sauce)
60ml dark soy sauce
1 tsp sichuan peppercorns
For the pickled watermelon
300g watermelon flesh
50 ml rice wine vinegar
Salt to taste (less salt than sugar)
For the cucumber pickles
½ cucumber, thinly sliced
50g sugar (any type)
100ml rice wine vinegar
150 ml water
For the mayonnaise
1 large egg yolk
2 tsp white wine vinegar
½ tsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp salt
¾ cup canola or sunflower oil
2 heaped tbsp gochujang sauce
For the haloumi: Place all ingredients except haloumi in a food processor and pulse until well combined. Pour over haloumi in a container and place in fridge to marinate overnight.
For the cucumber pickles: Heat the vinegar and the sugar and water together until sugar dissolves (don’t reduce or boil the mixture). Cool to room temperature and pour over cucumbers; cover and set aside.
For the pickled watermelon: cut watermelon into 3-4mm thick pieces that are a similar size to the haloumi. Mix vinegar, salt and sugar together, pour over watermelon and set aside. Please note: Pickle the watermelon around an hour before serving to keep it a little bit crunchy.
For the mayonnaise: Whisk the egg yolk and vinegar and salt together along with the mustard to combine. Add a third of your oil over five minutes, very slowly, then add the rest of it in a fine drizzle until the mixture goes thick and white. Add the gochujang paste to taste. Set aside, or place in fridge until serving.
To assemble: Steam the buns according to the directions on the packet. Fry the slices of haloumi in a frypan on both sides until soft and cooked through.
On each bun, spread a bit of the gochujang mayonnaise on the bottom and top with a few pieces of kim chi. Place two to three pieces of haloumi, two pieces of watermelon, two pickles, and top with a generous sprinkling of spring onions and coriander.